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Louis C.K. cancels his cancellation, wins a Grammy and triggers a backlash

Louis C.K. is shown at the Tribeca TV Festival's sneak peek of Better Things at Cinepolis Chelsea on Sept. 22, 2017 in New York City.
Ben Gabbe
Getty Images
Louis C.K. is shown at the Tribeca TV Festival's sneak peek of Better Things at Cinepolis Chelsea on Sept. 22, 2017 in New York City.

Editor's note: This story contains language that some may find offensive.

Louis C.K. brought home a Grammy on Sunday despite having admitted to sexual misconduct and subsequently enduring almost five years in professional comedy purgatory.

C.K.'s album, Sincerely Louis C.K., beat out five other nominees — including Lewis Black, Kevin Hart and Chelsea Handler — for best comedy album at the 64th Grammy Awards. The comeback album was his first release since the 54-year-old was accused of masturbating in front of multiple female colleagues in November 2017.

Twitter users lashed out almost immediately following the Recording Academy's announcement, many of whom pointed out the irony that C.K.'s winning album made light of the very misconduct that derailed his career years ago.

"Rewarding the man that makes light of sexual harassment and assault while having allegations levied against him?" one user tweeted.

"The Grammys are a great reminder that 'cancel culture' doesn't exist and no white dude has ever been successfully cancelled for anything terrible that they do," posted another.

In 2017, five women shared experiences with The New York Times, alleging that C.K masturbated in their presence along with other sexually inappropriate behavior. The comedian had initially denied the allegations, NPR previously reported, but ultimately admitted to his wrongdoing.

"At the time, I said to myself that what I did was OK because I never showed a woman my dick without asking first, which is also true. But what I learned later in life, too late, is that when you have power over another person, asking them to look at your dick isn't a question. It's a predicament for them," C.K. said in a 2017 statement. "The power I had over these women is that they admired me. And I wielded that power irresponsibly."

The fallout after his admission came almost instantaneously. On top of the public outcry, networks such as HBO, Netflix and FX cut ties with the formerly revered comedian and pulled past and upcoming programs alike.

Not even one year later, C.K. was back onstage at a comedy club in New York City. However, C.K. has more or less remained out of the spotlight until his latest album. But now he's back on tour. According to his official website, C.K. will spend May and June visiting several European countries, with some of that tour's shows have already sold out.

Copyright 2022 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Dustin Jones
Dustin Jones is a reporter for NPR's digital news desk. He mainly covers breaking news, but enjoys working on long-form narrative pieces.