Tuesday, September 8, 2015

Why Celebrities Should Stop Apologizing For Racist Comments

Lately it seems like there's a new celebrity every week that makes the mistake of uttering a racist comment. Just as frequently there also seems to be some underground video or audio recording that ousts a celebrity as many as ten years after the comment has been made. Like clockwork the shamed and ostracized celebrity will release a statement through or often written by their publicist explaining away their choice of words and apologizing for having uttered them in the first place. Unlike the general public, I see no need for the theatrical production that is the public apology. Personally, I think racist celebrities should just stop apologizing for their comments for three main reasons.

1. They Don't Mean It

A forced apology is a false apology and that in itself is insulting. The fact is, no matter the circumstances surrounding the comments, the person who uttered them meant every word. I may not like what was said. I may be offended, infuriated, and disappointed. But an apology is something that is meant to be expressed in situations of sincere regret. But what exactly are the celebrities regretting? Do they regret their opinion? Do they regret that their opinion hurt my feelings? Do they regret that something that was meant to remain private has been released to the public via TMZ or some other paparazzi medium? Unless the celebrity truly regrets what they said, I really don't want to hear an apology because they don't mean it. It would be better for them to become enraged with whomever recorded them or exposed them in the first place, that person who blackmailed them and violated their privacy. That, I can understand and accept.

2. You're Allowed To Be Racist

As quiet as it's kept, you are allowed to be racist. It would be an unpopular choice and you are sure to find yourself surrounded by people who truly believe that violence is in fact the answer. But you are allowed to be racist. Your beliefs are your beliefs. As long as you are willing to accept the consequences of making your socially unpopular beliefs public, I have no problem with a celebrity being racist. Celebrities apologize because they don't want their record sales to go down like John Mayer when he claimed his penis was a white supremacist when asked how he felt about his black, female fans. People were livid but I wasn't. If John Mayer doesn't like black women, that's his prerogative. I know plenty of black women with black supremacist vaginas. Don't apologize for your own preferences. I don't like undercover racists. I like to know what I'm dealing with at all times. I don't like finding out after I've spent money on an album, movie, or some other merchandise that the actor, singer, or artist doesn't like people like me. An apology for comments like John Mayer's tell me that person is embarking on a campaign of deception to cover up their true feelings just so they can get my money. I'd rather deal with the unapologetic racist.

3. Everyone Is Racist

Just because people don't want to admit it, doesn't mean it isn't true. We're all guilty of saying something racially insensitive when we think no one is recording. We all have our stereotypes about other races. The sooner people can accept that no one is perfect, the sooner we find ways to end the stereotypes. I also don't see the point in apologizing for a comment made many years ago that your side chick decided to record like Hulk Hogan, Donald Sterling or Mel Gibson. People change. People say things that they no longer agree with a decade later. People also say the most evil things they can think of to say when they're angry. Think about a person you know that is in a toxic relationship. Think about the cruel things they say to each other when they are trying to hit below the belt. Celebrities are not exempt.

If you're going to apologize, there is a way to do it. Take Hulk Hogan for example. I didn't like his apology. Saying he grew up hearing that word as a reason for why he did it, didn't apply to the recording that was released. That's something you say when you use the n-word as a term of endearment or in an attempt to appropriate hip-hop culture. In Hulk Hogan's situation, he clearly was an angry father looking for anything to grasp as a justification for being angry. I don't think he has a problem with black people but I do believe he really doesn't want his daughter to be with anyone who isn't white. Again, that's a preference he's entitled to have, although it would inevitably make him a social pariah. Hulk Hogan should said, "I apologize for the pain my comments caused. I was an angry father back then and I really needed to vent my frustrations. I did so under the belief that I was with someone trustworthy, who has clearly to be anything but. I do not have a problem with the African American race. But if given the choice, I would prefer that my daughter date within her own. It is a culture with which I am familiar and therefore more comfortable supporting." More people would have been understanding and could probably outright identify with that same statement.

But then, I'm not a celebrity publicist.

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