Louis CK’s Grammy Victory Leads to Backlash

By | April 5, 2022

Last fall, after the nomination of Louis CK and others like Marilyn Manson — who is facing an investigation over multiple sexual assault — drew public ire, Harvey Mason Jr., the chief executive of the Recording Academy, defended the right to nominate anybody as long as they met the organization’s eligibility rules.

“We won’t look back at people’s history, we won’t look at their criminal record, we won’t look at anything other than the legality within our rules of, is this recording for this work eligible based on date and other criteria ,” he told the trade publication The Wrap. (Marilyn Manson was later removed from the nominations list as a songwriter on Kanye West’s track “Jail,” but remained eligible as one of West’s collaborators on “Donda,” which was up for album of the year.)

Rather than weighing in on who could be nominated, Mason said the Grammys would instead draw a line around who was invited to the ceremony, held this year in Las Vegas. The comedy award was one of dozens of presented in a ceremony that was held before the prime-time broadcast and was shown online only. Louis CK did not attend. Representatives for the Recording Academy did not return requests for comment.

On the album, amid bits about religion, aging and sex, Louis CK addresses his misconduct a few times, mostly jokingly. “Man, I was in a lot of trouble,” he says in the opening. “Wait till they see those pictures of me in blackface. That’s going to make it a lot worse. Because there’s a lot of those, there’s thousands of pictures of me in blackface. I can’t stop doing it. I just — I like it. I like how it feels.”

This trophy is the third Grammy for Louis CK in the comedy album category.

The Recording Academy does not release details of how its more than 11,000 eligible members vote. Members are limited in the number of categories they may cast a vote in, as the academy tries to encourage them to vote in their various areas of expertise. The nominations process was tweaked for this year’s awards after complaints of secret agendas and uneven playing fields, and boycotts by major artists like the Weeknd.

In recent years, the Recording Academy has also been roiled by allegations that it did not include or acknowledge enough women or people of color, and the organization has pledged to do better. But a report last month from the Annenberg Inclusion Initiative at the University of Southern California found that the number of women credited on pop songs has remained largely unchanged for a decade, and that a Grammy-led effort to hire more female producers and engineers did almost nothing.

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