PBS, obviously acting in light of the new atmosphere of zero tolerance for sexual predators, decided to cut Sen. Al Franken’s (D – MN) part of the ceremony honoring this year’s recipient of the Mark Twain Prize for American Humor, bestowed annually by the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts on one who has contributed to the tradition of American humor. Sen. Franken, as I’m sure you are all aware, was recently exposed as a sexual predator by a couple of women who worked with him many years ago during his career as a comedian, before he ran for and won a Senate seat from Minnesota.
But, in what can only be described as either bizarre, unintentional irony, or the suffering of a massive group stroke causing serious memory loss among the doyens of the Kennedy Center, this year’s recipient is none other than David Letterman! Yes, you remember, the David Letterman of Late Show fame, who confessed in 2009 to having illicit sexual encounters with women on his staff.
This really makes one wonder how seriously the entertainment industry is taking the sexual assault of women. I’m still waiting for someone – anyone! – to stand up for the many children who have been sexually assaulted by adults in Hollywood, though I understand that the civil authorities are considering beginning an investigation. We’ll see how far that goes.
It is, of course, a good thing that sexual predators in entertainment are finally being made to answer for their behavior and are no longer allowed to hide behind their wealth and power. One would have thought the Bill Cosby scandal, or even Letterman’s own repugnant behavior, would have inspired a widespread cleaning of house, but no. For whatever reason, it took Harvey Weinstein’s downfall to bring the darkness to light. But, how serious is tinseltown, the Kennedy Center, or PBS about the sexual exploitation of women when they are honoring a man who confessed to sexually exploiting women. For those who say that Letterman’s affairs were consensual, I’m sorry, but NO! When the person who is responsible for writing your paycheck makes it clear he wants to have sex with you, there is no way that is consensual. It is abuse of power, pure and simple.
Oh, and look! Amy Schumer was there to laud Letterman for his outstanding contributions to American humor. I guess the prospect of a gig in front of millions of viewers, doubtless with an eye toward a ceremony honoring her in the future, was too big an opportunity for Schumer, so she decided to set aside her championing of women’s rights (read: abortion rights) to help honor a serial sexual abuser. Egg doesn’t look good on you, Amy.
Now, the announcement that Letterman would receive the prize, and the October 22 ceremony, all came before Hollywood saw the light about sexual abuse, sparked by the revelations surrounding Weinstein. But, isn’t that rather the point? In Hollywood, there is now BH and AH (Before Harvey and After Harvey). The Kennedy Center knew of Letterman’s history of sexual assault before they chose to bestow the prize on him. So did all those big name entertainers who took part in the ceremony. None can claim ignorance. Instead of ignorance, there was silence. Did not one think it inappropriate to honor a man who is a known sexual abuser of women? No, they didn’t. Because all of this took place before the proverbial caca hit the fan. All of that was BH. Now, we live in an AH world, and only now do the big wigs in entertainment give a rat’s patooty about the sexual abuse of women (though, there is still largely silence over the abuse of children). And, boy, do they really care now! They care so much that they cut Franken’s contribution to the show. Though they don’t care so much to realize that maybe honoring Letterman in the first place was a mistake.
Look, I’m all about redemption. David Letterman acknowledged his crime and apologized and, for their own reasons, the women he abused decided not to bring formal criminal charges against him. Letterman should be allowed to live the rest of his life in peace. But, that’s a totally different proposition than an industry actively honoring a man for his contributions, while entirely ignoring his behavior, committed during the time he was at the height of his popularity and power in the industry. If Letterman should be allowed to live in peace, then his history ought to permanently remove him from any list of honors.
Be Christ for all. Bring Christ to all. See Christ in all.