Mindy Kaling's attendance at Aziz Ansari's show Friday night sparked a heated debate between the comedienne and her fans and critics about defending those accused of sexual assault.
Ansari's latest performance on his "Road to Nowhere" tour drew a crowd of some of his industry colleagues, including Ocean's 8 star Mindy Kaling. When the comedienne posted a photo of her ticket stub on Instagram, with the caption "Funniest shit ever," a legion of users decided to chime in on her continued support for Ansari.
Amid the wave of backlash, Kaling spent the remainder of the evening doubling down on her support for Ansari. "I’m a feminist and standing up for women is very important to me," she wrote in response to one of the comments. "I’m not rehabbing him Bc I think he did a fine job doing it himself."
Kaling also deleted some of the remarks she took offense to, including one which compared Ansari to R. Kelly, the singer facing 10 counts of felony criminal sexual abuse. "I think comparing Aziz to R. Kelly was offensive and degrading to the victims of R. Kelly, so yeah, I deleted it," she wrote, according to BuzzFeed.
In 2018, Ansari was the subject of an online article written by a woman he allegedly pressured repeatedly into having sex with him. The woman, who identified as the pseudonym Grace, claimed that Ansari failed to acknowledge both "verbal and non-verbal cues" that indicated she was not comfortable being intimate with him.
In February, the comedian addressed the incident for the first time since releasing his initial statement after the allegations were published. He repeatedly apologized and signaled that he had spent considerable time reflecting on his behavior. "There were times I felt really upset and humiliated and embarrassed, and ultimately I just felt terrible this person felt this way," the Master of None star told a crowd in New York City.
“I definitely don't separate the art from the artist," Kaling wrote in another response. "His experience has shaped his art and he talked about [it] eloquently. I hope you check it out."