Or should that be moron apologies? Since writing my piece the other day I’ve spent a bit of time thinking about the way people apologise. One particular type of apology that has been happening a bit lately and really pisses me off is when public figures do or say something that they realise after the fact is deemed socially unacceptable. This usually takes the form of hurling racial epithets and the big examples from the last year are Mel Gibson, Michael Richards and Don Imus.
When will one of these people stick to what they say instead of backing off in a desperate attempt to cover their arse? When it’s blindingly obvious that, from what they say, the celebrity in question doesn’t like, say, black people… why don’t they just say so? So long as they aren’t actually inciting or committing violence (and admittedly this may well be the case sometimes) why can’t they just say it?
“You know, I really don’t like black people. They make me uncomfortable. I don’t know any, I don’t hang out with them and I feel like they blame me for things that aren’t my fault. I don’t go out of my way to hurt black people but when they get up in my face it pisses me off. I’ll stop saying ‘nigger’ when all the rappers do.”
***NOTE*** The above is not actually my opinion. I’m simply extrapolating from some people’s outbursts what I suspect their true feeling are. All the same, feel free to leave some ignorant comment labelling me a racist. I enjoy laying into fuckwits.
Mel Gibson I find kinda funny because although he did the obligatory apologies at first for his bizarre, drunken anti-semitic rant, in more recent interviews he’s essentially said “I’ve already apologised for that. Get over it, what’s your problem?” And, despite the fact that the bizarre rantings of his father and the church he belongs to tend to support charges of anti-semitism, I tend to think that blaming Jews for your drinking problems points more to insanity than simple Jew-baiting.
Michael Richards I find more pathetic than anything. He was clearly out of his depth and in his stress and frustration he lashed out in a rather vile way. I suspect he’s no more racist than the average white person prone to muttering “stupid nigger” in traffic but his public grovelling made me feel more than a little sick. A slightly more honest response would have been:
“Those guys were really obnoxious and were ruining my act. They weren’t respecting me as a performer and I didn’t feel like respecting them as people. I knew I had the power position and I could really hurt them by calling them niggers. I didn’t think it through and I lashed out, now I’m gonna pay for that and I probably deserve to. I tried to turn it around into a Lenny Bruce thing but I couldn’t get it together. I don’t think I’m a bad person and I don’t have a problem with black people but if people don’t want to forgive me for fucking up then I guess I’m screwed.”
Don Imus just flat out pisses me off. This fucking blowhard was doing what he always does and comes out with a pathetic “I said a bad thing but I’m not a bad person.” He’s free to think and say whatever he wants but when he’s employed by someone else they’re free to sack him. He’s a long way from being the worst of the shock jocks but from what I’ve read he should have been sacked earlier. Some right wing conspiracists actually believe he’s the canary in the coalmine – with his scalp taken the dreaded liberal conspiracy will go after some of the seriously big right wing names. We can only hope.
Anyone who’s been paying attention to my writing would know I don’t advocate the banning any type of speech but Imus was in the commercial marketplace – that’s what led to his downfall. Whether or not his employers were truly morally outraged by what Imus said, advertisers were pulling the plug so Imus had to go. I have to seriously doubt that the broadcasters themselves were troubled by what Imus said – isn’t that the sort of shit he’s expected to do?
Of course it may be that I’m simply deeply cynical. The fact that I see their “apologies” as nothing more than a desperate attempt to protect their commercial interests could be a reflection on me more than them.
Maybe I should apologise.
12 responses to “More on apologies”
Well, at least you don’t live in a country where the news becomes obsessed on a month basis by apologising for stuff we did hundreds of years ago.
Last month it was slavery, (200th anniversary of the laws banning slavery in the UK) and all you could hear was “Tony Blair stopped short of apologising for slavery today”. It was 200 years ago! Get a grip! If every country has to apologise for every shameful episode in its past there will come a point in the future where apologising is a 24/7 business for government; and they’ll have to divert resources away from police, education and health care to deal with it. (But naturally, they’ll apologise about that.)
Come to think of it, “a point in the future” could well be Saturday at this rate.
In these cases it’s sounds more like “I’m sorry I got caught”, or something equivalent.
It’s funny I just read this: http://www.compleatsteve.com/essays/apology.htm
An apology by Steve Martin. Hilarious!
What about people who immediately check into Rehab when they are caught doing something bad?
also it’s part of the “how can i take you back if you won’t ever go away” cycle. they have to fuck up, apologize and disappear, before they can stage a surprising comeback – and if they can’t get it together to do the comeback, then they can’t get the TV movie based on their life story, or the book rights, or make the rounds of the talk shows again. we all love the comeback kid.
in the old days you had to get crucified before you could be resurrected. now you only have to say something stupid!
Well they should end their comments with ‘if you don’t like it – fuck you in the neck with a meat cleaver’.
Massif: then you’d love the Australian PM – he refuses to apologise for past treatment of aborigines. Considering people my age were subject to forced separation from their parents I have a little suspicion that this one might actually be worth apologising for.
Michelle: I think that sums it up.
Maliha: yeah, that the other copout – look, not my fault, I’m in rehab now.
tom: we’ve set the bar rather low
Sandra: At least I could respect that 😀
People use apologies in so many ways.
There’s the one which means “please still like me”, and – bitch that I am – I say “I do still like you, but you did fuck up. Live with it”.
Then there’s the one which means “Ow, ow, I’m in (emotional) pain, make it go away” and I am even less sympathetic with that one.
So many apologies are emotional tricks to get people let off the consequences of their actions:
“I’m sorry I’m late” to which the only possible reply is – “fine, but if you actually are sorry you will never be late ever again. If you think you will in fact be late some time in the future please don’t lie to me now by saying you are sorry”.
And as for people and governments apologising for the actions of their predecessors! How does that work? I am not responsible for the actions of my grandparents. How can I conceivably apologise for them?
Ohhhh, the late one, I hate that. I had an ex who was late all the time, particularly when I was picking her up from work and had to wait in a no-standing zone during peak hour. She always had some great excuse about a phone call or last minute critical work discussion. I had a great solution: don’t answer your phone for the last 10 minutes you are there, or find another way to get home.
OK, so apologising for recent history makes sense. But apologising for something we actually outlawed 200 years ago is silly. Especially as we probably apologised for it at the time.
Perhaps some sort of public record of apologies needs to be kept, so we can point to past apologies whenever anyone says we need to apologise for e.g. the treatment of Jews in england in the middle ages.
Hell, a pro-forma apology for the standard sins could be made up while we’re at it. Running late because you missed the bus you only half-heartedly tried to catch because you didn’t really want to go shopping with your girlfriend and all her friends? Just use apology 2234.
I actually think apologising for slavery is more than mildly stupid. Apart from acknowledging that it was fucked up and too bad we can’t go back in time to change things, what the fuck does an apology actaully achieve? Mind you, there are those who seem to think slavery was a fine idea and them uppity nigras never had it so good.
Well, lets see… 2000 years ago here in Greece we’d make slaves of each other, so I suppose I have to apologize to myself.
That’s the polite thing to do.