Charlie Rose; Louis CK and Matt Lauer
Charlie Rose, Louis CK and Matt Lauer (Photos: Rex Features, Getty Images)

OPINION

Just six months after #MeToo began, is it too early to debate “comebacks”?

There is already talk of redeeming the men accused of sexual harassment. But we mustn’t forget the women who are still asking to be heard, says Emily Baker

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By Emily Baker on

Matt Lauer – the former co-host of NBCs The Today show accused of sexual harassment by multiple women – is reportedly ready for his comeback. “Lauer is said to be testing the waters for a public comeback by coming out of hiding from his Hamptons home,” says a Page Six article. “With his marriage to Annette Roque now over, he’s ready to restart his life, pals say.” The comments were made after Lauer was spotted having dinner with a sporting-goods mogul in a Manhattan restaurant.

Coincidentally, Louis CK – the man who took multiple women to his hotel room and masturbated in front of them – may also be on course for a career resurgence. In a new article, The Hollywood Reporter have interviewed a range of comics inviting their thoughts on how (not if) CK could work his way back on to a stage. Should he appear on 60 Minutes? How about a comedy special, addressing how he has made amends? If we bring him back under the spotlight, “maybe he can save a couple of girls from unnecessary and unwanted incidents,” posed comedian Aida Rodriguez, who recently ran into CK at restaurant.

The conversation surrounding the men toppled by the #MeToo movement has well and truly passed the “himpathy” stage and now teeters on a period of redemption, rebounds and comebacks. At the beginning of the month, The Hollywood Reporter – again – brought the mental state of a “broken” Charlie Rose to our attention. In the introduction to the sycophantic piece, explaining how “lonely” the disgraced former talk-show host is after multiple women accused him of unwanted sexual advances, the site called Rose a “legendary man-about-town” and reminded us of his work as “one of TV’s most feted journalists”. To prove their point, the article opens with a description of the warm welcome Rose recently received at a New York restaurant.

Has anyone checked on Harvey Weinstein’s dining habits? Because this is where the comeback narrative begins. After making us feel sorry for the men in question – who are also sorry, by the way – PRs, anonymous sources and the press remind us why they were pedestaled in the first place. Before we know it, the conversation has moved on from whether a man should be granted a path of redemption, to questioning not only how, but how quickly we can restore them to their original status – reputation and worth intact.

In the mere six months since the #MeToo hashtag began to sweep across social media, it seems the men in question have been named, shamed, sacked, rehabilitated, forgiven and rebooted

No one is surprised by the recent murmurs of comebacks – women, especially, knew it was going to happen. After all, alleged domestic-abuser Johnny Depp will appear in the next Fantastic Beasts movie; Mel Gibson has recently appeared in a “family-friendly” comedy and was nominated for a best director Oscar in 2016; at this year’s Oscars, amid the black dresses and Time’s Up pins, another alleged domestic-abuser won the best actor award. Sitting atop this throne is Donald Trump, who is so untouchable that he has never needed to “comeback” from the 16 allegations of sexual harassment against him.

It’s the speed at which these stories have surfaced that feels most uncomfortable. In the mere six months since the #MeToo hashtag began to sweep across social media, it seems the men in question have been named, shamed, sacked, rehabilitated, forgiven and rebooted before the world has had a chance to really take stock of what the movement means – after all, #MeToo is still a living, breathing crusade against patriarchal power in the workplace. In the same six months, women bravely speaking out about their experience with sexual abuse have been accused of lying to “get significance”, of starting a witch hunt against men, accused of playing the victim and of being “silly”.

Predictably, in these – the reversal of fortune stories – it’s the women who are completely forgotten. Focus is solely on how Louis CK can regain what he has lost, not the women whose careers were derailed by his actions. We care about Matt Lauer’s seat behind the Today programme desk, not the NBC employee who will have to cope with her abuser returning to the industry. We care about how “lonely” Charlie Rose is, not the emotional state of the eight women he harassed between the 90s and 2011.

Apparently, it takes just six months for the public to forgive a once-loved celebrity for their alleged sexual abuse. How long for a survivor to forget?

@emilyrbakes

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Charlie Rose, Louis CK and Matt Lauer (Photos: Rex Features, Getty Images)
Tagged in:
#MeToo
Opinion
sexual harassment
Sexual abuse

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