We all know the drill, a celebrity/company/athlete/(insert a public figure here) does something, says something or acts a certain way and the immediate reaction is to release a very public and very sincere (read PR planned) apology, and everyone forgets about it a few weeks later, days if it’s something a bit more minor and the (insert entity here) is beloved.
In fact, it is so routine, so common, so deeply in sync with our culture, that I feel an indignified rage when I don’t see the generically worded apology plastered all over my Facebook timeline 24 hours after an incident explodes. Statement of deep remorse/regret/never condone this behavior yadda blah blah is commonplace to resort to when you want to rebuild your PR image.
So, this begs the question: Do the apologists mean it?
When I was younger, whenever I did something wrong, I was always told to apologize. I would bow my head down, quiver my lips for some sympathy, don the best puppy dog eyes I could muster at the moment (bonus points if I can get misty-eyed as well, that’s a killer combo) and say “sorry Mummy/Daddy/Sister/Brother/Whoever I managed to piss off today” and hang my head further down to signify shame. I was a master manipulator. After that, they will cross their arms, give me a stern stare, and warn me to never do whatever I did again. I would nod my head vigorously whilst smirking on the inside, feeling real smug of my ability to once again, evade any real punishment. And then a few weeks later I’ll repeat the same offense and bam! Same routine.
That’s honestly how apology statements feel at this point.
It happened with the Logan Paul scandal at the start of the year. This is where he filmed a dead body in Japan and made incredibly insensitive comments about the horrific situation. The backlash was swift, with the entire YouTube community at large condemning his actions with the weapons of the 21st century: tweets. Celebrities weighed in, calling him to go to hell, people voiced their disgust, and even mainstream news picked it up.
And then came the apology.
The one minute forty-five seconds video is titled ‘so sorry’ as seen from above and as one can deduce from his teary eyed and masterfully crafted tone, he is so, just oh so, sorry for doing something that would’ve been considered desecration if he had gone just a little bit further.
Look, at this point, you’re probably scratching your head and wondering, what could’ve he had done? Wasn’t an apology enough? How is someone supposed to react to a situation when it blows up in their face and they have an angry mob chasing their tail with pitchforks and torches?
So, let me make it clear: I am a firm believer that everyone deserves a second chance as long as they see the error in their ways. Absolutely. However, I just cannot for the life of me see anything remorseful about Logan Paul and his bullshit apology video, or the fact that he donated money to a suicide prevention organization or the fact that he went on a bloody apology tour. Why? Because in the very same video where he announced his pledge, he said, and I quote “I know for a fact everything I do from this point on will get criticism. It will get backlash because I’m a very polarizing dude.”
Are you absolutely fucking kidding me?
He also dismissed actual criticism as “hate from strangers” and regarding all of this as simply “noise” to him. I’m sorry, but if a guy has the gall to call people condemning his actions “haters” then his bloody apology video means absolutely nothing.
When are we, as a society, actually going to do something about this epidemic of apology? Saying sorry and going on a tour isn’t a remedy for an offense. Actions speak louder than words, and if we continue to let people go simply because we think they look remorseful, then we’re shaping a future where forgiveness is never earned, but given freely.