how not to apologise for sexual harassment allegations
Pro tip: don’t sexually harass anyone in the first place.
“While I do not recall the events at the 2009 Golden Globes Party transpiring the same way, I feel tremendously guilty now that the things I did have been made public,” tweets a Very Famous Man from a poolside lounger at his Beverly Hills mansion. Pausing briefly to pluck a sesame seed from his pearly veneers, he resumes prodding his Samsung Galaxy with a single forefinger: “I imagined that any woman would have been thrilled to see a tiny penis peeking out from below my pasty, middle-aged paunch like the head of a geriatric albino turtle moments from death, and of course now I realise my behavior was wrong. In conclusion, I will devote my life to finding the real Golden Globes party molester.”
Surprisingly, the above is not one of the numerous soul-pulverisingly pathetic ‘apologies’ from one of the cesspit of rich and famous men who’ve been accused of sexual harassment recently. It’s the work of writer Dana Schwartz, from her depressingly amusing Celebrity Perv Apology Generator. The site does what it says on the tin -- generates apologies that could be lifted straight from the press releases that celebrity pervs pump into cyberspace following sexual harassment allegations, primed for Twitter annihilation.
"I imagined that any woman would have been thrilled to see a tiny penis peeking out from below my pasty, middle-aged paunch like the head of a geriatric albino turtle moments from death, and of course now I realise my behavior was wrong."
The sad genius of the generator is that it highlights just how formulaic these faux-poligies are. Take a bit of memory blank (“while I can’t remember this particular incident”), mix it with some deflected responsibility (“sorry if you feel hurt”), bake it all up in some good old fashioned women ‘love’ (“some of my best children are female”), and pop a cherry of completely irrelevant information on top (“btw actually I’m gay!”). And hey presto, the antithesis of what an actual apology should sound like.
So, what should an actual apology sound like? “I wish it were this easy, but I think the point of a good apology is there is no template,” Dana explains. “The main tip is apologise like, five years ago or whenever this happened and not just because you got caught. These apologies are inherently disingenuous as they’re coming only now that there is finally the chance there might be consequences for their actions.” But if you are a gross human who finds themselves of accused of sexual harassment in any situation, celebrity profile or not, “Be apologetic, take responsibility, and don’t make excuses.”
“The main tip is apologise like, five years ago or whenever this happened and not just because you got caught."
Dana’s no stranger to ghostwriting prose on behalf of insufferably self-righteous men. She’s known for her popular Twitter account @GuyInYourMFA (Master of Fine Arts), in which she fires off the type of gratingly self-indulgent opinions that, as the handle suggests, the guy in your MFA would probably actually write:
And while -- like the Apology Bot -- they’re dolled out with a dash of dramatic exaggeration, the tweets all have roots entrenched in the truth, using a bit of creative license to crystallise the underlying psyche that fuels such cringeworthy remarks. Take, for example, @GuyInYourMFA’s tweets about the viral and ripped-from-your-diary-relatable short story Cat Person:
And then go and read this ‘account’ from Robert’s perspective that literally no one is here for. Or don’t, it’s crap.
On the parallels between @GuyInYourMFA and the apology bot, Dana explains, “There’s a certain entitlement some men have, this fundamental belief that their worldview is the most important and their storyline is central to the plot of the world." But while both trigger our gag reflex, to equate their offensiveness is reductive. “The difference between these men and the @GuyInYourMFA character is he’s just insufferable. We all have a little bit of that pretentiousness in us,” Dana explains. “But these men are criminals. They hurt people.” Echoing the instinctive impulse that sees our Twitter feeds erupt in kilometres of snarky memes and sarcastic quips, Dana concludes, “sometimes I just get so angry it feels like I have no idea where to direct my frustration, and so I made jokes.”