On Sunday, Parks and Recreation star Retta hosted an event at the Vulture Festival in Manhattan to promote her new show, Good Girls, and her new book, So Close to Being the Shit, Y’all Don’t Even Know. At some point in the midst of all the plugging, someone managed to slip in a question about January’s Babe.net article detailing a young woman’s sexual misconduct allegation against Retta’s Parks and Rec co-star, Aziz Ansari. Retta “didn’t appreciate” the piece, she said.
According to Vulture, reporter Alex Jung asked Retta, who is friends with Ansari, to address the Babe.net story, in which a 23-year-old woman named Grace alleged that on a date with Ansari in September 2017, Ansari persuaded her to engage in certain sexual acts, despite her verbal and nonverbal protest. The piece sparked conversation about what falls under the #MeToo umbrella that burst open last year after dozens of women accused mogul Harvey Weinstein of sexual assault. It specifically called attention to the line where bad sex meets sexual misconduct. But apparently that’s not a conversation Retta thinks is worth having.
“I feel like a lot of people and a lot of other outlets were like, ‘Why did you even run this story?’” Retta told Jung. “I’m giving my personal opinion, and I don’t want fucking people coming at me. You know what I mean? But I feel like I’ve been on that date so many times. I was like, ‘If you haven’t been on that date twice, are you even living a life?’”
It’s true that Babe.net racked up some criticism for the piece, including from Jezebel, in part because its execution left so much room to hold Grace culpable for Ansari’s actions. It was set up in such a way that made it easy for detractors, like Retta, to dismiss it by pointing to their own similar experiences, instead of explicitly inviting critics to examine where coercion could bisect assault. Many of us have been on “that date,” but that doesn’t mean we should call Ansari’s alleged behavior acceptable, whether or not it is technically criminal.
Retta’s not having it, though:
I’m not going to judge [Grace], because I don’t know her. I know personally—I had this conversation specifically with one of my good girlfriends, and she was like, “I don’t know how this is a story. I didn’t get it.” I don’t want to get into it. I didn’t like it. Because I’m the first person to be like, “Fuck that mother fucker. He’s an asshole. He’s a fucking asshole.” And I didn’t think he was an asshole and I didn’t appreciate it.
In all fairness, it’s hard to publicly call friends out when they’re being shitty. Right, Diane Keaton?