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Celebrities' Sexual Misconduct Apologies Become Shorter And Far More Honest When All The Nonsense Is Removed

by Penn Collins

November 20, 2017

Along with the disturbing prevalence of sexual misconduct complaints aimed at celebrities comes a familiar cycle: Following an accusation, an oftentimes rote and formulaic “apology” will follow from the celebrity’s PR camp, conveying sadness and perhaps shouldering an abstract blame, but often failing to express genuine contrition.

Celebrities know that hedging their words may satisfy the public’s desires for an admission while still stopping well short of accepting responsibility and consequences for their actions. The vaguer the apology, the less damning the charges may ultimately be — and the more likely the celebrity in question may recover from their scandal with career and reputation intact. 

It’s understandable why any celebrity, guilty or innocent, would do this, but that doesn’t make the act of submitting a hollow response to serious charges any more palatable. 

Poet Isobel O’Hare has found a clever approach to the empty words that many celebrities are offering up in response to sexual misconduct charges: Armed with a black marker, they’ve (O’Hare uses gender-neutral pronouns) taken to redacting the superfluous and distracting language to get to what many are seeing as the heart of the matter. 

O’Hare’s edits may, to many, be just as distasteful and subjective as the original statements. However, their desire to take meaning from words that have been written solely to serve the accused rather than the victims offers a fascinating perspective on what underlies these Machiavellian apologies. Below are a few of their works amid the nauseating cycle of accusations and apologies. 

Harvey Weinstein

Jess Lacey

Jeremy Piven

Louis C.K. (Version One)

George Takei

Louis C.K. (Version Two)

Speaking to The Daily Dot, O’Hare explained why they undertook 17 revisions of C.K.’s statement. “The Louis C.K. statement in particular, to me, seemed like it was Louis C.K.’s last chance to make everyone look at his dick one more time,” O’Hare said. “Really, dude? Did you have to say ‘my dick’ in your statement about what you did?” 

O’Hare, a survivor of sexual abuse, originally created these modified apologies to share with friends, but upon witnessing the surprisingly positive reaction to the more candid edits, shared the works online. Modifying the narrative to suit someone other than the accused is a powerful weapon at the public’s disposal.

“If I have in some way provided survivors with a tool of empowerment that they can bring into their art and their conversations, then I think that’s fantastic,” O’Hare said. 

Share image via Isobel O’Hare/Instagram.

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