Public Hollywood Apologies Become Part of the Zeitgeist

Opinion: Apologies Becoming a Part of

A few days ago, two attorneys made news by issuing a public apology. Now public apologies are becoming the norm in our society — more about that later — but let’s get real: Lawyers never say “I’m sorry.”

The attorneys in question represented a young gay man, Michael Egan, who charged that two prominent Hollywood producers had lured him into a sex ring. The charges (against Garth Ancier and David Neuman) proved to be untrue, and the lawyers did the unthinkable: They apologized for their involvement. (Of course the apologies might have been unthinkable for the lawyers, too — they were a condition of a settlement with the two men.)

The case caught my eye, because issuing public apologies seems to be affecting people in all walks of life, involving issues both serious and frivolous.

Every day I read about an actor, politician or even a teacher, who, fearful that he’s stepped over the delicate line of political correctness, promptly runs for cover. “I am the one to blame,” blurted director Cameron Crowe in a prototypical apology for a controversial casting decision he made for his latest movie “Aloha.” Not that he did anything wrong, but that’s beside the point.

Given this propensity to cower, I thought it might be useful to start a non-apology club. It would consist of people (celebrities or otherwise) who don’t believe it’s either honest, or instructive, to plunge into apology mode.

My first invited member would be Chris Pratt who, noting the problems that have enveloped fellow stars, decided to apologize up front for remarks he hadn’t yet made on a press tour for “Jurassic World” that hadn’t yet started. “I want to make a heartfelt apology for whatever it is I end up accidentally saying,” Pratt wrote on his Facebook page. “It was never right to say the things I definitely didn’t want to but probably will have said anyway.”

In being overly defensive, perhaps Pratt read about the blitherings Crowe encountered over casting blonde, blue-eyed Emma Stone to play a character who is one-quarter Chinese and one quarter Hawaiian. A pressure group representing Asian Americans protested.

Crowe was quick to surrender. He’d already been beaten up in a hacked email from then-Sony Pictures chief Amy Pascal in which she called his script “ridiculous.” To be sure, no one should have been allowed to read (or publish) her emails to begin with, but they nonetheless triggered apologies, thus instantly qualifying the former studio head for honorary membership in the non-apology club.

Demands for apologies are now raining down on Charlotte Laws, a former talkshow host and political activist who authored a proposed bill titled the Intolerant Jackass Act. Her bill represents a response to an initiative authorizing homicidal action against gays and lesbians. The initiative’s author, an attorney from Huntington Beach named Matthew McLaughlin, has not volunteered an apology, but has demanded one from Laws for calling him a jackass. I’m not sure I want either of them in my club anyway.

While I understand the need to be politically correct, thus avoiding serial apology, many new issues are emerging that render it difficult to know which side is PC. In an April interview with Diane Sawyer, Bruce Jenner (now Caitlyn Jenner) proclaimed, “My brain is much more female than it is male.”

Whoops — feminists promptly demanded that Jenner, and transgender activists, apologize for that transgression. “Their truth is not my truth, snorted Elinor Burkett, a filmmaker and academic, in the New York Times. Wrote Gina Rippon, a neuroscientist: “You can’t pick up a brain and say, ‘That’s a girl’s brain.’ ”

Perhaps the only way to deal with explosive issues like these is to start with an apology and proceed from there. Alas, my apology club is going to get too big to survive.

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  1. Speaking of Apologies:

    Mel Gibson to Attend Film Screening and Book Signing at ADL this Thursday June 25th

    Mel Gibson, who’s film “Passion of The Christ” which stirred controversy upon release with the Anti-Defamation League has been invited and is expected to attend the film screening of Blues by the Beach and book signing of MIKE’S PLACE graphic novel, which is based on the film. Co-author and suicide bombing survivor Jack Baxter will be on hand to introduce the film and sign copies of the graphic novel.
    The appearance of Gibson could be seen as an olive branch to the Jewish community for comments made in the past which labeled him an anti-semite. There is also speculation that Gibson could be interested in the rights to turn Baxter’s story into a screenplay and eventual film. see link below for event details

  2. TheBigBangOf20thCenturyPopCulture says:

    I tried to stay away but this zeitgeist headline lure dragged me back. If new age filmmakers will say they’re sorry for a movieland where no ones fits their roles and special effects are the stars, then I apologize for saying that most modern entertainment sucks and great media ended with he end of the 1900s. Now excuse me if I live in the past where writers had plots, actors charisma & directors vision.

  3. BillUSA says:

    I’d name my non-apology club the One Finger Salute Society.

  4. EK says:

    How appropriate that you foster a non-apology club as it’s charter member. Doesn’t get you off the hook though. So many arrogant memos and columns that even a blanket apology probably wouldn’t suffice. After all, everyone knows that a VARIETY EVP stripe is just cover for demotion, sort of like Brian Williams being exiled to MSNBC, still with a voice but with reduced credibility.

  5. TM says:

    An apology is called for from Variety and other press who reported Michael Egan’s accusations as if they were fact without the slightest effort to challenge the veracity of his claims. The tragic and shameful result is that readers of Variety and other press all believe that those accused by Egan in his wildly theatrical press conference really are guilty of all the hideous and horrible things he described — and those named continue to suffer from the slander engendered by your reporting.
    It is the Fox News theory of reporting — if you repeat something that was said by someone else, regardless of whether it is true or not, it becomes its own form of “truth” for their viewers. That’s why a majority of the country believed Saddam Hussein possessed WMD’s as we prepared to invade Iraq, and that’s why a large percentage of citizens believe that Barack Obama is not a citizen, and torture of detainees resulted in useful intelligence for the war on terror.
    The purpose of an apology is to provide assurance that those committing the regrettable error realize they made a mistake, and they want to reassure you that they won’t do it again. I’d love to hear that promise from the editors of Variety in regard to their Michael Egan coverage.

    • BillUSA says:

      I read the articles which reported on Michael Egan’s accusations and they were as professionally written as I’ve read elsewhere. Variety never stated that they had the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth. They peppered the pieces with deft writing that indicated a mature approach to a hot topic without putting themselves in a position to be sued. They didn’t bang the drums for any one side.

      FOX News is no different than any other news source. The fact that the only conservative news channel out there gets mentioned says a lot about the motives of those who suggest that FOX is doing something so different and wrong that no other news organization does.

      Another thing. There is absolutely no doubt that Hussein had WMD’s because he used them. That they weren’t found doesn’t mean they weren’t there. Ever make the geographic/political connection between Iraq and Syria?

      Finally, torture does produce results. Only a fool would assume it doesn’t. Since I wasn’t there I can’t say for sure whether or not any evidence of value was yielded as a result of water-boarding. But neither were you, so – moot point.

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