George is Tired…Of Terrible-Ass Apologies

We have already been in the month of January for 525,600 minutes and we have not only brought the B.S. of 2018 with us but compounded it with even more foolishness. However, since I love social media, petty moments, and celebrities’ inability to find good PR professionals these days, you could say I’m in heaven.

A few weeks ago, I wrote about how I was tired of Kevin Hart. A few weeks later I am STILL tired of Kevin Hart. Kevin Hart’s timeline from the past five weeks has sort of read like this:

“I apologized for being homophobic so I’m not going to apologize again, but then I lost the Oscar hosting gig so I then apologized again, but it was found out that the apology after losing the Oscars gig was actually my first apology and the myth that I told everyone was an apology was really me calling LGBTQ people too sensitive for my humor which has now sent me on a promo tour about my new boring ass movie where instead of talking about the movie I talk about how I have moved on over, and over and over again, proving that I haven’t moved on but that my ego is too strong to let it go because I’m used to getting away with everything — look at both my marriages!”

Where is the damn PR industry? One thing about social media is that a story that usually would last a day or two at the most can now last for a person’s entire career if they handle it wrong. Kevin Hart’s story has been going on for 10 years now. However, this is a story that won’t die because of his own doing.

Now listen. I am not expecting every straight person to want to be LGBTQ people’s best friends, nor do I want to be the reverse of that. What I do expect is respect, and for you to understand the damage that is done when you talk badly about a marginalized group in your own community. Had Hart, when initially questioned simply apologized, this would not be a thing. Unfortunately, people have become so ego-driven that they think they can operate above the law because they have wealth and some power. That’s not how any of this works, though, and being un-humble and disrespectful could end your career.

Because, honestly, If people began addressing things when they happened, if they ever popped up again they could simply repost the original apology and then reiterate what was once stated. But that’s not what we have anymore. What we have is a system where people do things that are dead-ass wrong, and then they remain silent until an opportunity is threatened by it years down the line.

Which is how we get to Lady Gaga, who decided to pull out her Notes app and apologize to herself more than anyone else. And the timing, four days after a shocking loss of the Golden Globe to Glenn Close and shortly before the Oscar nominations, is questionable.

I understand people need the time and space to grow. People who may have been misogynistic, homophobic, etc. in the past can definitely show growth over the years and become advocates in places where they were once abusers. However, that doesn’t absolve you from addressing your original mistake.

It was 2013 when, at age 27, Gaga decided to work with R. Kelly. Yes, the R. Kelly who at that time had 20 years of sexual abuse allegations under his belt. Not only did she work with Kelly, but when questioned about it, she made a statement saying, “R. Kelly and I have sometimes very untrue things written about us, so in a way, this was a bond between us.”

First of all, yuck. Secondly, her decision to double and triple down against Black victims of R. Kelly was very telling. However, by 2014 Gaga started talking about her own sexual assault and became the voice against it…still never talking about the R. Kelly situation. A situation that she has been questioned about in 2013, 2014, 2015, 2016, 2017, 2018 and the first week of 2019 prior to her apology, which conveniently came during award season.

And then there is the apology. A very long explanation saying everything except “I messed up.” There was legitimate talk of her own bouts with sexual abuse, but sweeping generalizations of apology towards others and no specificity towards the Black women she hurt.

So last night I saw a question posed about what would be an acceptable apology. The first step is timing. The closer to the offense the better.

A great apology should follow these six steps:

  1. I messed up
  2. This is how I messed up
  3. This is who I harmed by messing up
  4. I apologize to all that I hurt by messing up (not that “may have offended” crap)
  5. This is what I have learned since messing up
  6. Moving forward I plan on doing these things to fix it and not mess up again

Easy, breezy, beautiful APOLOGY. I hope folks move to a place of sincerity and accountability, with the understanding that all may not forgive. If you are giving apologies simply looking for praise afterward, then the apology wasn’t real to begin with.


George M. Johnson

George M. Johnson is a black queer journalist and activist located in the Nyc area. He has written for TheRoot, ET, HIVequal, TheGrio, TeenVogue, NBC News and several other major publications.

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