Sarah Silverman is attempting to battle the other side with a tool which has rarely been used in American political life over the last couple of years: empathy.
As Hulu decided to renew her late-night talk show, I Love You, America, for a second season, the comic seems to have adopted a perspective in which the American people need to reach out and build bridges rather than mocking people who disagree with us or have wronged others. If America truly has to become a cohesive society, Silverman seems to tell us, we need to embrace conflicting ideas and sit down for a discussion rather than trying to shut the other person up. It is a little ironic considering that Silverman has made a name for herself by actually adopting mockery as a veritable comic tool for the better part of her career.
In the show, Silverman traveled to deep red states and attempted to reason with Trump supporters, trying to find a middle ground with Middle Americans. But it doesn’t necessarily limit itself to the political sphere, with Silverman discussing topics that would otherwise be difficult for female comics to deal with.
You can sort of imagine what we are getting at — the Me Too movement.
Speaking about her conflicting relationship with Louis CK, Silverman told GQ that coming to terms with what the male comic, one of her best friends for the last two decades, did in front of women (he masturbated in front of quite a few different women on different occasions) was a tough time for her personally. But she is trying to make peace with it. According to her, now that she has had some more time to dwell on it, she believes that artists like Louis CK deserve another chance because his actions have truly stirred a change in him.
Silverman pointed out that unlike many sexual predators who double down on the accusations made against them by women, people like Louis CK have accepted the results of their actions and deserve the chance to continue being artists.
“I think that there are people who were caught and there were people who were not caught, but the important thing is that they are forever changed. And if that’s the case, I don’t see any reason why they can’t continue being artists.
“Now, whether they’re popular artists or not is up to the audience. I have compassion. There are people that just deny everything they’re accused of and they continue to be the politicians or the filmmakers that they are. And there are people that come and say, I’m guilty of these things, and I’m wrong, and I want to be changed from this. And yet those are the ones that kind of are excommunicated forever. He’s my brother, so it’s hard. I may not have a very clear perspective on it, but I’m trying to.”
Silverman also noted that although she was grossed out when she heard about the accusation against Aziz Ansari, another fellow comic, she believes that he falls in the same category as Louis CK. For her, the accusation would have made someone like Ansari look inward, which would, in turn, help him become a better person.
“I was just like, ‘Gross, I don’t wanna know that about Aziz!’ Hopefully, he’s dealing with things, looking inward, and will blossom from it,” Silverman said.
She also defended former senator and comic Al Franken, who had to step down from the Senate after being accused of inappropriate behavior by eight women. Silverman said that she doesn’t believe the accusations against Franken, although she refused to blame the women either. For her, what might have been an innocuous touch could have felt as something more than that.
“I believe in my heart of heart of hearts he never copped a feel. The sketch, the whole Leeann Tweeden sketch, is online. You can see it for yourself. It’s not funny, but it’s innocuous. He may have touched some sideboob by accident, or a tush by accident, but I’m telling you, [Franken’s wife] Franni is his best friend and constant companion, and he has eyes for no one else.”
It remains to be seen if people like Silverman agree with her views about giving Louis CK, Aziz Ansari and Al Franken another chance, but with I Love You, America, we are definitely seeing a different Sarah Silverman from the one we thought we knew.