The recent spate of accusations of sexual harassment and abuse has netted many prominent people. While this has of course caused considerable consternation, it struck me that once the names were revealed, there was no one for whom I was utterly shocked. I want to distinguish being shocked from deeply disappointed, which is what you feel when people whom you admired for their skills (such as Kevin Spacey’s acting) or thought were on the right side of issues you care about turn out to have done such things. I mean being shocked because what you could glean about the person from their public persona seems utterly at odds with such actions.
This made me try and think about which people would really shock me if they were accused. It is hard enough to gauge people whom we know personally as to what they are really like, so trying to do so at a distance with public figures is almost impossible since we can never really tell based on what we see in the media. But even with that limitation, I gave it a go.
One name that came to mind was Stephen Colbert. Every report I had heard about him from people who have met or worked with him suggest that he is an extremely decent human being. As Mark Frauenfelder writes:
I had the privilege of being on the Colbert Report twice. Each time, Colbert came into the green room and spent about 20 minutes chatting with me. He was really nice. I also noticed that the crew adored him and had a great relationship with him.
Below is a one-hour interview with Colbert where he talks about the mechanics of running his current show. I had not known that the show is taped straight through live before an audience from 5:30 to 6:30 pm before being shown on TV at 11:30pm. He talks about how on election night in 2016, they ran the show live at 11:00 pm and had to deal with the most unexpected outcome of the four possibilities they had considered, where the fact of Trump winning became clear early on. He also talks about what he had to do to get increased diversity in the writing room. Now half are white men while the rest are women and people of color.
Another person whom I would be shocked to see accused is Yo Yo Ma. I was reminded of Ma because of an appearance on NPR last Friday where he spoke about his lifelong relationship with Bach’s Unaccompanied Cello Suite No. 1 and how that relationship has evolved as he grew older.
You can see a video of the slightly longer interview below.
Apart from being an acclaimed cellist and supportive of a wide array of worthy causes, Ma seems to be a really nice person, modest, self-effacing, and also playful. These qualities shine through in the above interview and also in two of his multiple appearances on Sesame Street from many years ago. Here is the first appearance.
In the second, he allows Hoots the Owl to make fun of his name before they have a Deliverance dueling banjos type of interaction.
Another person I would be shocked to see accused is Seth Meyers.
I am sure that if I think hard enough, I could add to that list but it was rather sad that more names did not immediately come to mind.
I would be curious to see what names readers would like to add in the comments.