‘Christians Against Masturbation’ Spokeswoman In Old Louis C.K. Video Now Seems Surprisingly Insightful

‘Christians Against Masturbation’ Spokeswoman In Old Louis C.K. Video Now Seems Surprisingly Insightful

Actress Liz Holtan portrays an earnest representative of Jesus’ commandments against lust in an old Louis C.K. comedy bit. Today she sounds far from crazy.
Mary Rose Somarriba
By

Louis C.K. has been dominating the sexual harassment news for the past week, after five women came forward in a New York Times story accusing the comedian of sexual harassment and misconduct. According to the accounts, Louis C.K.’s misbehavior came in the form of asking to, or simply proceeding to, masturbate in front of women who often were less prominent colleagues.

Since the story broke, TV and film execs have halted all of Louis C.K.’s works in progress, of which there were many. C.K.’s agent Dave Becky, who is thought to have helped cover up accusations, has been under fire; and C.K. himself has admitted “these accusations are true,” offering a public apology, which has continued to receive scrutiny.

The majority of the news coverage seems to agree: Louis C.K.’s behavior was inexcusable and abhorrent. Never mind that his jokes about masturbation and irrepressible male sexual urges received laughs from many of these same folks not long before the scandal. As many outlets have noted since the scandal broke, Louis C.K. employed the topic of masturbation frequently in his comedy.

Nevertheless, the entertainment industry, now aware of his misconduct, has all but blacklisted the comedian. “Now is not the time for him to make television shows,” FX wrote in a statement, upon severing all ties with C.K.

‘It’s Like Telling People Not to Breathe.’ Maybe You

This week, I skimmed the archives of some of Louis C.K.’s past comedy bits on masturbation, partly out of curiosity, partly to prepare to never watch his comedy again, because I’m too repulsed. Along the way, I found a video that struck me as possibly having more longevity than anything else C.K. may have produced. It was a satirical TV segment the comedian included in a 2011 episode of FX’s show Louie, that happens to strike some insightful chords on the very topic of the scandal.

After a few minutes of watching, one quickly gathers that Ellen Farber, identified as a spokeswoman for Christians Against Masturbation, must be a joke. Indeed, she is actress Liz Holtan pristinely portraying an earnest representative of Jesus’ commandments against lust. Despite her naive demeanor and measured voice, within today’s context, she can’t help but sound far from crazy.

At one point, when Louis C.K. says he finds all this funny, Ellen replies, “That’s what’s so sad. That you don’t know the darkness that you’re living.” “No, I know the darkness,” C.K. replies. “You don’t have to live this way,” Ellen says with evangelistic fervor. “There is a life of joy and passion waiting for you, if you just stop hurting yourself.”

“How can you tell people not to masturbate?” Louie says, frustrated. “It’s like telling people not to breathe; it’s not fair.” “Have you ever tried?” Ellen pursues. And on goes the conversation, where it becomes more and more evident that Louie is addicted to a behavior that ultimately brings him only more loneliness and darkness.

Now that we know Louie’s masturbating habit led to grave sexual misconduct, the grim warnings of the faux anti-masturbation spokeswoman sound all the less laughable.

Hyperbole and some theological inaccuracies aside (she says lust is restricted to the confines of marriage, for instance, while the Christian belief is that lust is always sinful; it’s sexual activity that is restricted to the confines of marriage), Ellen’s goody-two-shoes caricature now offers fewer laughs on masturbation, and possibly more caution that our culture could probably use more of.

That’s because if there’s something these nonstop sexual misconduct accusations can tell us these days, it’s that uninhibited sexual behavior, however much we may have convinced ourselves is an amoral given in society, isn’t so harmless after all.

Full Program Trancript

GREG GUTFELD

Ellen, welcome to the program.

ELLEN FARBER

Thank you for having me; it’s a pleasure to be here.

GREG

Well, pleasure—I believe that is the issue here; is that what your group is against?

ELLEN

Of course not. We believe God put us on this earth to enjoy life, and to enjoy the world he created for us.
GREG

But why form a group against something like this?

ELLEN

Thank you for asking me that. I wouldn’t be doing this if I didn’t think it was very important.

GREG

But there are people who would say, come on, it’s just masturbation.

ELLEN

I don’t think of it as just masturbation. Frankly, I think of it as a tragedy.

GREG

A tragedy, like a tsunami or Rwanda?

ELLEN

Yes, I think it’s that serious. Because those events, while certainly tragic, affected only one region of people in the world or another. While masturbation is a crime against God and against the person who does it to themselves. Young people, all over the world are depriving themselves of the greatest gift that the Lord bestowed upon them at their birth– their purity, and grace, in his eyes.

GREG

Well that’s very compelling. Let’s bring in our next guest, comedian Louie C.K., who some might call an aficionado of masturbation. A man who is well known for being a prolific masturbator, who even brags about it. Is that fair to say, Louie?

LOUIE C.K.

Yea, that’s fair.

GREG

In fact, you’re the only person we could find who would come here to defend masturbation.

LOUIE

Well I like it. It’s easy, and it’s fun, and nobody gets hurt.

GREG

Well isn’t that the point here, Ellen—with all due respect, why do you care about what a man does in the privacy of his own house?

ELLEN

God cares. The Bible teaches us that lust in your heart is a sin, when acted upon outside the context of marriage.

LOUIE

Well I’m not married, so anything I do is outside of that context.

ELLEN

I’m not against having sex. I believe the Lord put desire in your heart as a beacon for love; it’s a way we can find someone and marry them, and enjoy each other under his loving gaze.

LOUIE

You mean God watches married people having sex?

ELLEN

Well, God watches over everything!

LOUIE

So we’re like porn for God. He watches us, and then he probably masturbates!

GREG

Okay that is way out of line, Mr. C.K. This young lady—

ELLEN

That’s alright. I know you’re a comedian, so this is probably so funny to you.

LOUIE

Yea, it’s pretty funny.

ELLEN

That’s what’s so sad. That you don’t know the darkness that you’re living.

LOUIE

Uh, no, I know the darkness.

ELLEN

You don’t have to live this way. There is a life of joy and passion waiting for you, if you just stop hurting yourself.

LOUIE

How can you tell people not to masturbate. I mean nobody can not do it. Since there’ve been people, all of them, every single person ever has masturbated. Gandhi, Joan Jett, Shakespeare… it’s like telling people not to breathe, it’s not fair.

ELLEN

I pity you, that you think that; that you can’t not do it. Have you ever tried?”

LOUIE

Tried not to masturbate?

ELLEN

Yes.

LOUIE

Well sometimes I won’t do it for like a week but that’s so when I do it again it will be way better.

ELLEN

But what if you really stopped? What if you saved that urge inside of you and thought of it as something sacred? Until you meet the right person and you love them and get married to them, and then you can give it to them as a gift, that you’ve cherished and saved?”

GREG

That’s beautiful.

LOUIE

[To Ellen:] Have you ever been married?

ELLEN

No.

LOUIE

I was married for nine years, and believe me, God was not smiling.

ELLEN

And now you’re alone, and you masturbate and you’re alone. You asked me Louie, have you ever been married? Now I ask you, have you ever been happy? Are you happy now?”

[prolonged awkward silence]

GREG

So Ellen, how does your group get the word out? Are there rallies? Where is the picket line for this?

ELLEN

Oh no. We have meetings; it’s like a town hall. We bring people together and inspire them to walk a path of purity. [To Louie:] You’re welcome to come. I’d be happy if you did.

LOUIE

[Angrily] Sounds like a lot of bullshit. You know what pisses me off about people like you? You think you have the keys to how to be happy. You don’t know me, okay? And you don’t know God. God probably hates people like you who are telling people what to do.

ELLEN

Wow, masturbating’s really important to you.

LOUIE

Yea, it is. It keeps me sane. I’m a good citizen, a good father, I recycle and I masturbate. And I’m proud of it. And God’s happy. And later I’m going to masturbate, and I’m going to think about you, and there’s nothing you can do about it.

Mary Rose Somarriba, who completed a 2012 Robert Novak Journalism Fellowship on the connections between pornography and sex trafficking, is editor of Natural Womanhood and associate editor of Verily Magazine. Follow her at maryrosesomarriba.com.

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