On Monday night Aziz Ansari performed at a “pop-up” comedy show in New York, and Vulture reported the comments Ansari made on stage addressing the sexual misconduct allegation against him last year.
The Master of None star has been laying low since January, 2018, when an anonymous New York-based photographer accused him of coercing her into performing sex acts following an early 2017 date.
At the time, Ansari addressed the claims in an issues statement, explaining he and the woman in question had engaged “in sexual activity, which by all indications was completely consensual,” and revealed he had “responded privately” to the female to discuss the incident.
“I took her words to heart and responded privately after taking the time to process what she had said.” he continued. “I continue to support the movement that is happening in our culture. It is necessary and long overdue.”
At his comedy show this week, Aziz Ansari addressed the scandal for the first time in public, and his comments actually seem refreshingly thoughtful. According to the Vulture reporter, he sat down and changed his tone to somber before discussing the allegation and the fallout.
“There were times I felt really upset and humiliated and embarrassed, and ultimately I just felt terrible this person felt this way,” he said with an apparently wavering voice. “But you know, after a year, how I feel about it is, I hope it was a step forward. It made me think about a lot, and I hope I’ve become a better person.”
Ansari then recalled a conversation in which a friend told him it made him rethink every date he’s been on, commenting that,
“If that has made not just me but other guys think about this, and just be more thoughtful and aware and willing to go that extra mile, and make sure someone else is comfortable in that moment, that’s a good thing.” he continued. “And I think it also just gave me perspective on my life.”
After all the hand wringing over whether the Ansari story meant #MeToo had gone “too far”, here is Ansari saying that he thinks it helped him and others gain important perspective. Nice to see him address it directly. https://t.co/Is7IkOyx5I
— Emily Rose Fisher (@emfish55) February 12, 2019
Ansari also admitted that he feared he would not be able to return to his career in the wake of the accusation. But as we know, more often than not, that is generally untrue for men involved in these kinds of scandals.
All in all, Aziz Ansari’s comments pass the (very low) bar for how we hope to see people respond to #MeToo. There is still need for improvement in how men can sidestep taking full responsibility for their actions, but this is at least a step in the right direction.