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Fred Willard, the actor you'll recognize from Best in Show and WALL-E even if you don't quite know his name, has become a pop culture punchline in the last few weeks after he was arrested for "lewd conduct" in an adult movie theater in Los Angeles. Willard has handled it well, even tweeting jokes about his circumstances, but it hasn't done much to stem the fallout: he was fired from a gig at PBS a few weeks ago, and now has lost another one.
Yesterday ABC pulled the plug on Trust Us With your Life, the improv show led by Willard that had just aired a few episodes. The show was low-rated, sure, but it's also the summer and the middle of the Olympics-- what did they really have to lose? It seems clear ABC is responding to some kind of viewer pressure-- maybe a group like those One Million Moms jerks who called in and said Willard was a menace to their televisions. But it feels like we're forgetting that Willard hasn't even been convicted of anything, much less gone to trial, and the entire American judicial system is based on the idea that you're innocent until proven guilty. Now it's possible, especially for celebrities, to be tried and punished so thoroughly in the media that the court system really has nothing to add when it's all over.
If Fred Willard really did what he's accused of-- and it's hard to be falsely accused of exposing yourself in a porn theater, sure-- then he made a big mistake. But it's not the kind of mistake that ought to ruin your career, especially when you're a grown man making comedy for other adults, all of whom understand what porn is and won't be utterly scandalized by the mere knowledge that Fred Willard once watched it. Our society is bizarrely sex-phobic in the best of times, but situations like this one honestly bring out the worst in us.
Vote in the poll below and let us know if you agree that Willard deserves better treatment.
Does Fred Willard deserve to keep losing jobs?