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Aziz Ansari Responds to Sexual Misconduct Accusation: Everything That Happened ‘Was Completely Consensual’
Aziz Ansari has responded to the accusation of sexual misconduct leveled against him, saying that the activity he and his accuser (who chose not to reveal her name) “by all indications was completely consensual” and that he was “surprised and concerned” when she told him the following day that she felt differently.
The woman, who is 23, told Babe the two went on a date last year that “turned into the worst night of my life” when he initiated sexual contact after she expressed discomfort.
Here’s Ansari’s full statement:
“In September of last year, I met a woman at a party. We exchanged numbers. We texted back and forth and eventually went on a date. We went out to dinner, and afterwards we ended up engaging in sexual activity, which by all indications was completely consensual.
“The next day, I got a text from her saying that although ‘it may have seemed okay,’ upon further reflection, she felt uncomfortable. It was true that everything did seem okay to me, so when I heard that it was not the case for her, I was surprised and concerned. I took her words to heart and responded privately after taking the time to process what she had said.
“I continue to support the movement that is happening in our culture. It is necessary and long overdue.”
“Last night might’ve been fun for you, but it wasn’t for me,” she said in her text message. “You ignored clear non-verbal cues; you kept going with advances.”
Ansari responded, “I’m so sad to hear this. Clearly, I misread things in the moment and I’m truly sorry.”
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‘Star Trek: Discovery’ Review: ‘The Wolf Inside’ Confirms Our Worst Fears, but the Darkness Remains Intriguing
[Editor’s note: The following contains spoilers for “Star Trek: Discovery” Season 1 Episode 11, “The Wolf Inside.”]
Hoo boy. So. We’re still in the Mirror Universe, and Burnham is still grappling with her command of the brutal ISS Shenzhou, where execution by transporter is a regular thing and instead of being her commanding officer, dear Saru is her slave who bathes her.
But while she’s trying to figure out a way to get data to the Discovery that could help them find a way back to the Prime Universe, Burnham gets another chance to perhaps change things for the better back home: When tasked by the Emperor to hunt down and kill the “Firewolf,” the Klingon who leads the multi-species resistance against the Terrans, she instead takes this as an opportunity to learn how, exactly, a Klingon might come to lead a group of disparate races with very different ideologies.
Burnham and Tyler make it to the rebel headquarters, learning that the Firewolf is the Mirror Universe’s version of Voq the Torchbearer, the albino Klingon from the early episodes of Season 1. Turns out that he’s also working with Andorians and Mirror Universe Sarek(!) who makes an appearance to mind-meld with Burnham and verify to Voq that her intentions are pure (despite her Mirror Universe self’s reputation). Annnnnd turns out that seeing the Mirror Universe version of Voq triggers the hidden truth in Tyler — that he’s been Voq the whole time.
That last thing is a shock to no one in the audience, given the way it’s been planted over the last few episodes, but Burnham takes it pretty hard, especially when Tyler completely surrenders to his true Klingon nature and tries to kill her. Burnham takes this opportunity to fake out Tyler’s execution in a way that not only gets him back to the Discovery, but transfers the Defiant data along with him — but before you get used to good news, the rebels Burnham was hoping to save get blown up — by Emperor Philippa Georgiou!
A Follow-Up Regarding One Quick Prediction, Before We Really Get Into It
CALLED. IT. Well, it wasn’t that big a leap to make, guessing that Captain Georgiou’s Mirror Universe counterpart was the unseen Terran Emperor. But even beyond the sweet vindication of being right, it was a thrill to see Michelle Yeoh in full bad-ass regalia, and we can’t wait to see more of her next week.
Love In Space
Theoretically, we’d been bracing ourselves for this moment for months, ever since a) Tyler and Burnham started getting closer and b) that fan theory began to circulate in earnest. But that said, watching Burnham discover the truth about Tyler was still quite rough, especially given the violent turn the scene takes — and the genuine sweetness of their earlier scenes, in which they seem to cement their status not just as lovers, but committed partners.
There’s something beautiful about a scene that’s not technically a love scene, but a scene that takes place after the trip to Pound Town, that intimate and quiet space where you might truly speak truthfully to a partner. Seeing two characters get that moment on a “Star Trek” series is relatively bonkers, but it speaks to the character-oriented storytelling the show has truly championed this season.
“You’re Not You”
One interesting element of Tyler’s “tether” story is that it seems to confirm something we’ve been a little unsure about — whether or not Tyler was a “real” person prior to Voq’s transformation. The level of detail and specificity does seem to imply that Lt. Ash Tyler, Starfleet officer, did exist at some point, and that his consciousness resides somewhere inside Voq.
Speaking of the whole Voq situation… basically, now that we’re past the point of the reveal, the question becomes what’s next? Is the Ash Tyler we’ve gotten to know over the past several episodes gone forever? Is Voq now here to stay? And is any sort of redemption for this person possible? Shazad Latif has been a wonderful part of the ensemble, and it’d be sad to see him go — but there are major question marks around what role he’d play in the show’s future.
Take It Off
“Star Trek” has never been very sexually charged as a franchise in the past, but “Discovery” has seemed pretty devoted to changing that. From Tyler being shirtless to Burnham’s choice of sleepwear to the full-on flashes of naked Klingon breasts in Tyler’s flashbacks, this episode in particular seemed interested in challenging just how much sex we might expect to see, which on the one hand feels a bit out of line with the franchise — but is also totally in line with a show about real people with real bodies who lead real lives. Yes, this is fiction, but after watching the “Black Mirror” episode “USS Callister,” this concept has taken on a whole new meaning.
Quote of the Episode
“Please, sir. I no longer have my pips, but I’m still Starfleet. Don’t force me to slaughter this coalition of hope.”
One of the biggest knocks against “Discovery” as a series, according to some, is that it lacks the optimism previously established by the “Trek” franchise. But really, it’s moments like this that prove that really, “Discovery” gets the ethos of “Trek” just as well as any of the shows that have come before it — but it chooses to show this by putting its characters in situations so dark their idealism shines through. Burnham is trapped in the worst of circumstances, but her genuine goodness can’t be suppressed, and the contrast is proving fascinating.
Also, let’s use this opportunity to shout out the new layers of her bond with Lorca, who is now the closest thing remaining to a “tether” Burnham has on that ship. While that should have us all very worried for Burnham’s well-being, given that Lorca’s emotional stability wasn’t too great before undergoing 24/7 Terran torture, Jason Isaacs’ performance in that major scene had us once again truly rooting for the character.
This is a quibble with the execution that may or may not be a big deal, but the use of flashbacks to pound home the point that Tyler was not who he appeared to be was a bit excessive, to the point of “WE GET IT ALREADY HE’S VOQ.” Perhaps it’s because our viewing of the episode is of course preceded by the “Previously on…” segment (which included duplicate footage to some degree) but the point got hammered a little bit too hard.
However, beyond that “The Wolf Inside” was a compelling tale, making the best argument possible for “Discovery” spending multiple episodes of its first season in the Mirror Universe. Getting to see Burnham grapple with the ethical quagmire that is playing captain in the Terran Empire is tough in the most interesting ways, as the journey “Discovery” is taking us on grows more and more complex.
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“We don’t have a lot of debates or disagreements ever here, which is wonderful. But I was ready to argue for that if it came up,” Holmes said in an interview with IndieWire as the comedian was putting the finishing touches on the sophomore HBO show.
Holmes’ central character (also named Pete), closed out the first season of the show in a decidedly mixed place. After watching his marriage dissolve and his comedy career begin to ascend at the same time, a lingering shot of Pete munching from a takeout container might seem like a counterintuitive way to pick things back up. But for Holmes, that opening sequence (which he says was even longer in the original edit) was true to the same personal experiences that helped drive Season 1.
“I love those moments. To me, divorce felt like blinds-drawn, Chinese food, masturbation. And we represent that. And I was proud of that,” Holmes said. “I never see the solitary kind of grieving that some people like myself do. If something bad happened to me back then, I would hole away. I had a lot of friends that would get obsessed with video games. We didn’t go to bars or talk to the bartender. We certainly didn’t get a six-pack, drive to the airport, lay on the windshield and watch planes fly overhead. You medicate. And that’s all you have.”
Those personal experiences are starting to give way more and more to the organic evolution of “Crashing” Pete’s story (“There’s fewer and fewer things that are being drawn upon from my actual experience,” Holmes said), but the opening episode of Season 2 — “The Atheist,” co-written by Holmes and Judd Apatow — also gave the show a chance to drop in a tiny reference that shows the different ways beyond food that Pete is dealing with the changes in his life.
“Pete even opens his laptop and you see there’s a ‘Mad Men’ decal. That’s also in my mind this wink to the audience that he got obsessed with a very long TV show. He isn’t necessarily dealing with his feelings. He’s binging a lot of TV, so much so that he bought a decal on Etsy,” Holmes said. “When I was actually divorced, I got really into ‘Rescue Me’ for some reason. These hypermasculine shows. Women, and this is a compliment, are more like, ‘Let’s feel it, let’s talk about it, let’s wrap around it.’ Men are like, ‘It is what it is’ and then they go fight somebody. Being a very feminine-energied person my whole life, I was drawn to masculine shows. And that’s why I think Pete is drawn to ‘Mad Men.'”
Once Pete eventually leaves his home base and the audience sees him back in the familiar comedy club environs, the character also encounters a mammoth change in the way conceives of his faith. One fateful conversation with Penn Jillette represents perhaps the biggest shift yet in Pete’s relationship to his Christian faith. For Holmes, he wanted that to come from someone who wouldn’t represent that worldview in a pejorative way to either side of the conversation.
“Penn Jillette was my first choice, and I was concerned there might not be a second choice. You think, ‘Who can represent atheism as a really beautiful thing?’ I think atheism can easily be a beautiful thing, but it doesn’t always appear beautiful,” Holmes said. “Once Penn was in, we spoke on the phone and I loved it, specifically the way he views the world to be very hopeful and lovely.”
The Pete/Penn conversation is another in the “Crashing” series of contrasts, putting its main character into situations that challenge his perception of the world and other ways of thinking.
“Obviously, in my real life, I’ve met all different types of atheists, but when I talked to Penn in real life, I wanted 15 of the 22 minutes to just be him talking because he was so great. It was the hardest scene by far to edit this season, because he makes so many wonderful points. Points that I ultimately don’t embody. I don’t stand on his square. If it makes sense, I do agree with him, but I just look at it differently,” Holmes said. “It’s the scene on the show that got applause. Everybody on the crew, the sound guys, everybody put down their stuff and clapped when it was done. I was just like, ‘It’s a really good sign.'”
Another of Season 2’s major changes finds Pete back in the dating pool, newly single with no conception of how to make his feelings known in an environment that he still doesn’t completely understand. One scene late in the premiere finds Pete making uncharacteristic advances towards Ali (Jamie Lee), a female comic. Given the way that the comedy world has changed in recent months, Holmes approached the sequence differently from when it was written and filmed.
“The original scripted version of that scene was far more aggressive. The joke was how aggressive Pete was being. To me, the joke was ‘Pete doesn’t know what he’s doing.’ So it’s that rookie mistake of just being very forward. There’s still things that we’re watching, like, boy, even if it’s just a masturbation joke,” Holmes said. “Those we left in knowing that it might be a little bit uncomfortable, but we took out stuff that was like, ‘Pete seems like an asshole.’ Nothing essential, and honestly nothing hilarious. But just little things where we were like, ‘The story is that Pete doesn’t know that he’s being too aggressive,’ and now we’re like, ‘I don’t want to perpetuate that even as a gag.'”
Approaching a difficult subject with an open mind is in line with what Holmes wants to do with Season 2. Not having Pete be constricted to one seismic change or one overarching anxiety is what he wants to see the character and the show experience.
“It’s not just that Pete’s gonna be getting drunk and sleeping around, it’s more that he’s experienced an inner freedom. It’s not as simple as a loss of faith. I don’t think actually losing your faith is actually what’s interesting about transformation. It’s the moment where you consider that maybe it’s another way,” Holmes said. “And I love those moments and I still look for those moments in any belief that I have, because it’s a very interesting place to stand. When your mind softens for some reason and you don’t just convert to someone else’s ideology, but you go, ‘Maybe it’s not what I thought.'”
“That’s the Pete that we follow through Season 2, is a guy that’s more confused than wayward,” Holmes said, but not before adding with a chuckle, “He’s both confused and wayward.”
“Crashing” Season 2 airs Sundays at 10:30 p.m. ET on HBO.
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