Fuck that bitch!
Aziz Ansari, in his first standup Special since he was falsely accused of sexual assault on a date gone awry, should have opened his show with, “Fuck that bitch!”
Because his comedy has been ruined by the accusation of that anonymous cunt! A year after the furor, he’s back on stage in AZIZ ANSARI: RIGHT NOW, but he’s not all there. And he’s not concerned with “right now” so much as re-litigating “back then.” This once-energetic performer, who used to challenge Chris Rock in the panther energy stakes, stays mostly seated and sedated on a stool, in a clunky one-shot where we see him in the foreground, with the background all in focus as well, showing stage exits and crew silhouettes. What the hell kind of…?
Filmed at the Brooklyn Academy of Music in May 2019, Spike Jonze directs, actually manning the up-close Steadicam onstage. Even before Aziz puts us off-balance by addressing his accusation (early in the set, because – elephant in the room), Spike has already made us feel uncomfortable with this weird non-subjective framing! Spike is no novice, so this is obviously intentional.
Then there’s the stage dressing: there IS none. Completely bare, we can see from the rafters to the back wall (and all the aforementioned exits and worklights back there). And Aziz is presented no different, dressed like a bum, in Metallica t-shirt, jeans and running shoes. (I guess they didn’t want any distraction or facade to ruin the metaphor of him “baring himself.”) Watch any one of Aziz’s other standup Specials – he’s a snazzy-suit guy. But now, his minders are re-imagining him as an Everyman. Why? Because his snazzy persona was the seductive pickup artist, his 2015 book Modern Romance: An Investigation only enhancing his image as a Ladies’ Man. But seductive doesn’t sell in times of #MeToo.
Aziz’s accuser (who crawled out of the woodwork and made her claim during the fervor of #MeToo) considers her date with Ansari “the worst night of her life” but has anyone considered it was actually the worst night of HIS life due to that indefinable spark she has robbed him of, that will affect the rest of his comedy career? Though Aziz successfully achieves many laughs in RIGHT NOW, the overall tone of his set is cowed and introspective. Like he’s got something to apologize for. Which he doesn’t. That accusation haunts his every line of delivery, every situation he discusses, every insult that doesn’t go far enough. It’s like he’s asking forgiveness. For what exactly?! In the end, Aziz either becomes more of a man (in the eyes of women), or more of a woman (in the eyes of men). Let’s let social media decide. Because, surely, we can’t think for ourselves anymore…
Everyone is entitled to say no, and afforded the respect to say it, so the woman that accused Aziz is a cunt NOT because she didn’t give it up to him, but in the way she handled her rejection of him. She could have said no and left his home and flicked herself to sleep, hoping her next date would yield the prince of her finicky romantic ideals; instead, she said no, then stayed with Aziz for nearly an hour while he continued to try to stick it in (which is the preprogramming of every male of every species if the female remains in the vicinity), then she blabbed about her dissatisfaction in a public forum (to what end, we’ll never know), to a reporter with her own credibility issues (Katie Way, whose verification protocol was highly questionable).
From that woman’s own account, Aziz didn’t have sex with her, didn’t rape her, and both of them performed oral sex on each other more than once. Are we all adults here? Don’t we all know what this is? Was the woman waiting for her libido to kick in? Was she disappointed there was not enough alcohol in her system to fuel her desire toward Aziz? Was she waiting for him to offer to pay her bills? Was she hoping he would pull out an uncharacteristically enormous wang for a little Indian guy?… It was a simple date gone awry for myriad reasons, where the woman suddenly remembered that society has given her a politically-correct excuse for embarrassing dates. Aziz is no more guilty of “sexual misconduct” than every single man who has tried to get laid on a first date. Reading the woman’s account, it’s like a gullible child’s idea of what grownups should do on a night out. One of her texts to her friends after the date: “He wanted sex. He wanted to get me drunk and then fuck me.”
How old do you have to be, to NOT know this about all men, let alone international entertainers? Are you seven? She went up to this world-traveled actor’s house! What did she THINK was going to happen?! I guess the enabled, privileged prude wanted to be wooed in a way that suited her and was just not responsive to Aziz’s methods of seduction, so… sexual misconduct.
The content in RIGHT NOW (written by Aziz), though very well-constructed and humorously delivered, is irrelevant. More important is the tone. And that’s why every bit sounds so careful, so examined, so trimmed of offense. Don’t get me wrong: Aziz is still very funny, and still commands the respect of his audience as he playfully tears down a few individuals within it, but on the whole, we won’t be talking about the actual “bits” in years to come, but rather how this Special sits within the Aziz legacy. His marketers, managers and manservants (and Aziz himself) don’t want to look back in five years and have people say “too soon!” They don’t want this Special dismissed as callous and inappropriate for being released so quickly on the heels of his “scandal.” They want it to seem like a worthy, thoughtful “comeback.” So everything is homogenized with qualifications and apologia and empathy and seeing both sides.
Woke is all the rage. Ironically making Aziz seem more asleep. For the sake of that elephant…
…But fuck that! Comedy is not meant to be this safe, this eggshell-treading. It’s meant to be dangerous and take you out over the edge. And maybe even drop you a few times. That’s why Aziz – whom we all know is innocent of rape, or sexual molestation, or even inappropriate behavior – should have faced his accuser from this powerful platform and told us straight-up: “Fuck that bitch!”
Then there’s that second elephant: R. Kelly. Yes, the rapper who kept underage female sex-slaves chained in his mansion, and pissed on them. During many routines in his past standup catalogue, Aziz has proclaimed R. Kelly’s genius, doing bits about his concerts, meeting him, and just all-round worshipping his talent. Well… those bits aged well. And poor Aziz finds himself almost groveling in his repudiation of the platinum-selling urolag.
Of course, this whole situation puts paid to Aziz’s overtly misogynistic womanizer character, Raaaaandy. Very sad to see that priapic energizer bunny disappear from Aziz’s standup landscape.
The trailer shot says it all in body language: head bowed, pensive, repentant. That’s not Aziz in attack dog mode. That’s cow mode. And if Aziz is going to bend over and let people do this to him without hitting back hard on his innocence, then –
Fuck that bitch.