Apologizing is really difficult for many people. And rare. Especially for the empowered, elite and entitled. The type of person who can deliver a credible apology typically doesn't find himself in the situation where he'd need a good public apology. That’s because the evasiveness it takes to serially abuse or otherwise harass, torment or hurt people over a long period of time — or even once — is typically inconsistent with the type of person who can express non-defensive contrition. The world at large is being inundated by apologies ranging from the bad to truly odious, and Hollywood is, in many ways, leading the pack with superficially sincere but ultimately bankrupt mea culpas.
And it's worth noting perhaps that apologies don’t fix anything, per se. But bad apologies can make things worse. They can inflame and extend hurt. Bad apologies also come in several different styles, and there are no shortages in creativity when it comes to the pretzels these jerks can try to twist themselves into. Some are denials posing as apologies. A few are straight denials. Regardless, here’s a look back at some of 2017’s missteps and linguistic disasters thanks to some of Hollywood’s highest-priced crisis PR firms, in no particular order. Keep in mind, we still have a few more weeks to go in 2017.
Earlier this month, former Mad Men writer Kater Gordon accused show creator Matthew Weiner of sexual harassment. Weiner issued a sort of verbal apology during a recent talk with Orange Is the New Black showrunner Jenji Kohan with a novel twist — it's essentially a back-door plea for pity:
I don’t want to speak to someone else’s character, but I will say this: I have hired dozens of women over the years and dozens of people. I am a demanding boss. Especially in the early years, it was very hard to do it. I had a lot of stress and — you know this — it’s very lonely. When I think back on it, if I had to do it differently, letting people go and being mad about having to rewrite everything — I was just angry a lot of the time.
Translator: “I’m just a lonely asshole showrunner. Is that a crime?”
Not long after human apology-generating machine Lena Dunham said we should trust all women who are coming forward with stories or accusations, news broke that an actress had accused Murray Miller, one of Dunham's Girls staff writers, of assault. Dunham claimed that Miller was one of the 3 percent of cases where a victim is lying. Over the weekend, Dunham changed her tune and finally issued a (bad) apology. The nut of it is that “it was absolutely the wrong time” to come forward with her personal belief that Murray was innocent. Check it out:
As feminists, we live and die by our politics, and believing women is the first choice we make every single day when we wake up. Therefore I never thought I would issue a statement publically [sic] supporting someone accused of sexual assault, but I naively believed it was important to share my perspective on my friend’s situation as it has transpired behind the scenes over the last few months. I now understand that it was absolutely the wrong time to come forward with such a statement and I am so sorry. We have been given the gift of powerful voices and by speaking out we were putting our thumb on the scale and it was wrong. We regret this decision with every fiber of our being.
Like basically everyone on this list, no one in Hollywood was particularly surprised when at least three allegations of sexual misconduct against human fedora Piven started trickling out in the past month. Instead of going for some sort of apology or excuse, he pulled the full denial. But not before claiming how strong victims must be to come forward with painful stories. Jeremy Piven is a human fedora and deserves no one’s sympathy for his unconvincing performative wokeness.
Piven told Deadline:
I unequivocally deny the appalling allegations being peddled about me. It did not happen.” He followed with: “It takes a great deal of courage for victims to come forward with their histories, and my hope is that the allegations about me that didn’t happen, do not detract from stories that should be heard.
Former comedian and politician Al Franken fucked up big time, and this one we have documentation of. After being accused of groping and harassing a reporter during rehearsal for a sketch during a USO tour, Franken initially offered up this half-assed statement to the press:
I certainly don't remember the rehearsal for the skit in the same way, but I send my sincerest apologies to Leeann. As to the photo, it was clearly intended to be funny but wasn't. I shouldn't have done it.”
Later, Franken issued a follow-up statement, which vaguely resembles an apology:
The first thing I want to do is apologize: to Leeann, to everyone else who was part of that tour, to everyone who has worked for me, to everyone I represent, and to everyone who counts on me to be an ally and supporter and champion of women. There's more I want to say, but the first and most important thing — and if it's the only thing you care to hear, that's fine — is: I'm sorry.
While it may seem like he’s copping to what he did here, there’s the “there’s more I want to say” bit, which is code for, “I still have to tell my side of the story.” Hard pass.
Sentient bad meme George Takei was recently accused of groping. In addition to an immediate denial, he pulls the “you don’t know how much pain this accusation has caused ME.” Jesus fucking Christ.
But those that know me understand that non-consensual acts are so antithetical to my values and my practices, the very idea that someone would accuse me of this is quite personally painful.
Scientology-adjacent and general asshole Jeffrey Tambor is stepping down from his “prestige” TV show Transparent because of allegations made by a co-star. In maintaining his innocence, he issued this word salad posing as a sort-of apology, from Deadline:
I’ve already made clear my deep regret if any action of mine was ever misinterpreted by anyone as being aggressive, but the idea that I would deliberately harass anyone is simply and utterly untrue,” Tambor asserted as well. “Given the politicized atmosphere that seems to have afflicted our set, I don’t see how I can return to Transparent.
Translation: “I’m sorry you felt that way. I have to quit my show because of PC culture.”
Kevin Spacey twisting the allegations of sexual misconduct against him into a coming-out moment is peak 2017. The disgraced actor tried to use gay identity as a shield for accusations of rape and pedophilia, which is a truly dishonest conflation, and no one bought it. He also alludes to substance abuse. It’s still truly bizarre that this person has not been held accountable in any meaningful way. Losing a Netflix show isn’t accountability.
Instead of pulling an excerpt, let’s just run with the entirety of this uniquely disconcerting apology. Every sentence is extremely bad:
I have a lot of respect and admiration for Anthony Rapp as an actor. I'm beyond horrified to hear his story. I honestly do not remember the encounter, it would have been over 30 years ago. But if I did behave as he describes, I owe him the sincerest apology for what would have been deeply inappropriate drunken behavior, and I am sorry for the feelings he describes having carried with him all these years.
This story has encouraged me to address other things about my life. I know that there are stories out there about me and that some have been fueled by the fact that I have been so protective of my privacy. As those closest to me know, in my life I have had relationships with both men and women. I have loved and had romantic encounters with men throughout my life, and I choose now to live as a gay man. I want to deal with this honestly and openly and that starts with examining my own behavior.
Before women went public with their allegations against him, it was long rumored that Louis C.K. liked to express his “alt comedy” power by masturbating in front of young, not-so-powerful comediennes. It’s one of the enduring symbols of this whole wave of victims coming forward.
He used the ensuing, now famously bad apology to talk about his dick some more:
At the time, I said to myself that what I did was OK because I never showed a woman my dick without asking first, which is also true. But what I learned later in life, too late, is that when you have power over another person, asking them to look at your dick isn’t a question. It’s a predicament for them.
What writer-director James Toback, who has been accused of sexual harassment by at least 38 women, told Rolling Stone in an interview in late October is a full denial and in no way to be mistaken for an apology. But I’d be remiss in filing this piece without including what is probably the grossest thing anyone on this list uttered in response to their respective allegations:
The idea that I would offer a part to anyone for any other reason than that he or she was gonna be the best of anyone I could find is so disgusting to me. And anyone who says it is a lying cocksucker or cunt or both. Can I be any clearer than that?
I doubt this needs a preface:
I so respect all women and regret what happened.