My recollection of the dog days of August in years past is that the news normally doesn’t get much beyond heat waves and the occasional hurricane. This week, other than the general Olympic and Political missives, there is a spate of what I would term non-apologetic “apology” stories.
Maybe it’s the result of the rise of thinking “hey I can say and do almost anything without giving thought to possible ramifications,” not to mention personal responsibility. Turns out that it’s still true that when people do things, in particular when they do things to other people. Gee what a concept, it matters.
At least three people in the news this week have expressed some sort of ‘regret’ for things that they’ve said or done. These are “things” that range from insidious threats and insults, to serious criminal accusations, to sheer idiocy.
The expectation is that you’re supposed to actually say “I’m sorry.” Not only that, but also to express real understanding of what one did, and real sympathy and today’s version of sympathy, “empathy,” for the person to whom one did it. There are probably lots of legal reasons, in some cases, why you can’t. And, in the age of instant analysis and over-analysis and internet wild-fire-spreading, there might actually be no good way to craft a heartfelt statement that would be acceptable to all. Or, maybe these folks went to their own personal limits of sorry-dom and for some of us it’s just not enough.
It does seem to me that these three apology/not apology items, all stemming from actions that each of these three individual men took, whether once or serially, are tough to take. Each in their own way strikes me as it does when a child is told, forcefully, that they MUST APOLOGIZE for some infraction, whether grand or minute. I’ve seen my own kids and many others say some form of “I’m Sorry I Made You Feel Bad” in such a way that they might as well be saying “But I don’t really understand what these words actually mean or even why I am in trouble in the first place but I hope after I’m done talking that noone will yell at me any more.” But 6 or 11 or even 16 is not 30- or 70-something years old.
Donald Trump’s general “regret” about “causing personal pain”, even when it stemmed from racism, hateful xenophobia, sexism, or infantile mocking, is kind of laughable but I kind of get it. This is just not a person who has shown one iota of empathy, sympathy, common sense, or knowledge of basic facts, let alone the capacity to think he did anything wrong. Ever. The amazing thing is that people talk about it like they’ve never met anyone else like that. I know lots of people like that! In business, in life. But yes the amount and degree to which the fomenting of vitriol is the main mode of conversation is pretty extreme. And not to excuse the milder versions, but at least they are not trying to be the President of the United States.
The second item this week is yet another take on how and if one can ever separate an artist’s art from his behavior. The easy thing is to dismiss the behavior as being well in the past, or during an era of different cultural norms. But in this case the easy thing to do would be the wrong thing to do. Reading what amounts to an explanation more than an apology, I wonder if it is ever enough for the person, the person in this case being novice film director Nate Parker, to claim that he is trying to understand “how much confusion and pain this incident has had on so many”? Especially when that ‘incident’ was rape, sexual assault, and ultimately involved a suicide? Even when part of the argument seems to be that he should get some credit for making an important film that was itself a long struggle to make. One that by subject matter alone is supremely worthy and speaks to people who are historically and currently unfairly disadvantaged? I’m really not sure.
Finally, veering back to the Trumpian trap of being amused more than outraged, but now knowing the dangers of that, I am truly fascinated by the sheer drunken, privileged idiocy taken to new and offensive heights of one: Ryan Lochte. All I can say is that of all my accomplishments in television, I am proud to have passed on his reality show. Twice.
Perhaps I am as ungenerous as the next guy — and by next guy I do mean ‘guy’ in these three cases — and should reach deeper to grant some sense of acceptance of their apology, no matter what its form.
August had been feeling, in a good way, like a long month. A couple of LZSP’s ago I shared the best bounce-back emails from subscribers. I wish nothing serious had happened this past couple of weeks month so I simply could have led my editorial note with this new and improved first-place finisher for the best out-of-office email:
“I am currently out of the office on vacation.
I know that normally, people say they’ll have limited access to email blah blah, but that’s not true for me. I’ll actually be out in the middle of the ocean in a submarine. So, even if its urgent, I won’t know about it till September 2nd….Otherwise, I’ll respond when I return…
Next week, I hope to share with you some great news about some film and tv projects I’ve been working on. In the meantime, submerge into the depths of this week’s news and pop culture by and about (but not exclusively for) women in politics, business, politics, technology, media, film, tv, fashion, sports, literature and general pop culture. It’s also our final week of Olympics coverage.
For more news during the week, follow me @LZSundayPaper.
Keep sending any items of interest or send questions/comments: here.
See you next week, still August and everything!
THE PIC(K) OF THE WEEK:
OTHER NEWS, BUSINESS, & INSIGHTS:
ARTS & POP CULTURE:
AND OUR FINAL OLYMPIC ‘WHAT’S NOT TO LOVE ABOUT’:
The LZ Sunday Paper™ launched at the dawn of 2014. We expose and recirculate interesting content that is about, and frequently by, women in business, with a dose of ultra-relevant culture. We think that culture comes high and low, not much in between. Our audience is vast and not gender-driven. Every week we expect to deliver at least one good laugh. Send suggestions, clips, or names of people you think might enjoy this to LZSundayPaper@gmail.com.