Last week, Marella Gayla examined two new works that wrestle with the ambiguities of the #MeToo movement — a novella that appeared in The New Yorker called “This is Pleasure” and stand-up comedian Aziz Ansari’s Netflix special “Right Now.”
Ansari was famously accused of coercing a 22-year-old woman into unwanted sexual acts — though the account that appeared on the web site babe.net got a lot of pushback, with critics saying the comedian appeared guilty of no more than boorish behavior.
Ansari addresses the incident in his comedy special and Gayla wrote that the performance, while sometimes affecting, seemed to be implicating the viewer in his redemption. “This is our moment,” Ansari says at one point.
“At that point, the spell dissipated for me,” Gayla wrote. “Was it ‘our’ moment? Was I trying to be part of Ansari’s moment? And hold on: Shouldn’t his revised outlook on life involve being more thoughtful, rather than simply relishing ‘the moment?’”
An online commenter who goes by the name “GeoLove” took a different view:
[Gayla] seems to believe he was being shallow, perhaps even disingenuous, with his questioning of “the moment,” whereas I saw it as a sincere request for affirmation that we were all on the same page, that we, as the audience, were, by mutual consent, on the same path with him. . .
The implication, at least for me, was that Mr. Ansari now realizes, as he perhaps did not in the past, that his perception of events is not the only one in the room, and that he, and we, must be ever vigilant lest we let our own personal perception of “the moment” override the true moment, the one we are sharing, and in so doing, taint, or even destroy the moment.