Four years after having a #MeToo scandal of his own, Aziz Ansari is doing just fine. He has continued touring as a top-selling stand-up comedian, and he has a new stand-up special on Netflix, Aziz Ansari: Nightclub Comedian, his second post-scandal, plus he dropped a new season of Master of None on Netflix last year. And now he’s coming back to the film side of things in a big way, with a new film he will produce, write, direct, and co-star in alongside Bill Murray, to be released in 2023 by Searchlight Pictures. Ansari will adapt the script from surgeon Atul Gawande’s book, Being Mortal: Medicine and What Matters in the End. So, no doing time in the B-list ranks or working his way back up the ladder, Ansari is popping out right at the top, working with the best people, supported by one of the most prestigious distributors. Cool cool cool.
Not that I think Ansari’s life should have been ruined in 2018. Among all the MeToo garbage that got taken out, his scandal—a bad date that included a questionable-consent physical encounter—was hardly the worst we heard, though in many ways it is the best representative of the kind of day-to-day, almost casual harassment and assault society has normalized. It just bugs me that the only thing that has really changed for Ansari is that he switched his stand-up act from arenas to clubs, like nothing happened, like there wasn’t a real conversation to be had about consent and dating culture. But make no mistake, venue change aside, he’s still doing phenomenally well as a touring comedian. In 2019, one year after his scandal broke and the last year before the pandemic wrecked live performance revenues, he was one of the top 10 highest paid comedians, according to Forbes.
And now he’s resuming his auteuristy filmmaking career with nary a bump on the road. Or maybe, at best, a speedbump, a small check in momentum in which he had to acknowledge in whispery voice in front of a paying audience that he was embarrassed for a minute in 2018. Again, not saying the dude should be deep-sixed forever, but if you needed any more evidence that 1) cancel culture is not real, and 2) no one learned a goddamned thing from MeToo, this is it.