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Meet the apology addicts

August 12, 2012

It is but one of many repeating patterns in today’s media landscape; a proven strategy with a high success rate for those who are most inclined to use it.  While everyday life situations seem to have little use for such a common tactic, scouring the internet or news headlines will definitely turn up a recent, successful execution of it.

It is…the demand for an apology.

One does not need to purposefully seek out the latest apology demand of the week to understand how they inevitably go.  The script is always the same – people claiming to be from an oppressed group demand a retraction of offensive statements.  The person of whom the demand is made then has three options: refuse, humor the agitators, or act sincere.  Refusal isn’t very likely, humoring isn’t very assuring, and sincerity isn’t very effective aside from its potential to act as an extortion mechanism.

A multi-tiered example of this addiction to apology and what it means comes from a post at Higher Unlearning, a place to go when you need a reminder of how our culture absolves women for the consequences of their own behavior.  There’s the hubbub over Chris Brown’s apparent refusal to keep apologizing for the incident with Rihanna even as he has a history of being so sorry for offending the LGBT crowd.  In addition to that, there’s a video of a 17-year-old Tupac recognizing what he was undoubtedly not supposed to about the ways women respond to men.

Skimming over Brown’s life story and media appearances, I read about Too Short being “accountable” for pretty much giving out advice that the enforced pseudo-niceness crowd didn’t like.  One apology wasn’t enough and so, he followed that up with a bunch of contradictory ideas of how even though he made his fame and money from being yet another bad black male rapper, he never really meant it and so on.  Obviously, the crowd eats it up and he gets to act like he’s a truly changed man now.  This being Too Short, I’d have though he of all rappers would have abandoned the pretense that going soft would have accomplished anything, but then again, it is just the entertainment world.  Going soft is only bad for the proles, it seems.  Lest you doubt me, you can react with predictable horror when the next male of “questionable” gender expression turns up dead.

All this – and other media controversies ending with an apology – tells me is that the demand for an apology is a test of one’s real power.  Having real power means no need or desire to apologize.  Having the appearance of power and fearing its loss means a need to apologize.  Recognizing that the power of the apology fetishists exceeds your own in an area where it really matters means a desire to apologize that surpasses any need to.  Chris Brown doesn’t need to swear to never act in anger towards a woman again so long as he has a legion of dedicated female fans.  Too Short may really mean what he said, or said enough for his controversy to die down, or (if my cynicism serves me well) engaged in enough damage control to ensure his offending speech wouldn’t kill his career.  Regardless of which it is though, he went to the other extreme.  She who wields the demand for apology wields a significant share of the power in the media, and it couldn’t be more perverted if sex tapes were involved.

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3 Comments leave one →
  1. August 24, 2012 8:08 pm

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    issues. When I look at your website in Firefox, it looks fine
    but when opening in Internet Explorer, it has some overlapping.
    I just wanted to give you a quick heads up!
    Other then that, superb blog!

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