The Quick 10: 8 Famous Apologies (and two that never happened)

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The past seven days or so have been chock-full of apologies, haven't they? Joe Wilson issued an apology for yelling "You lie!" at Barack Obama, Serena Williams apologized for threatening to shove the [expletive] ball down the line guard's throat on Saturday, and now Kanye has said he was sorry for stealing Taylor Swift's thunder at the VMAs Sunday night (not to mention David Letterman's apology to Sarah Palin from a couple of weeks ago). But they're definitely not the first people to retreat hastily at the frantic urging of their publicists "“ here are others who issued public apologies after some pretty major faux pas"¦ and a few who should have apologized and didn't.

grant1. Jay Leno gets all of the apology scoops "“ Kanye, sure, but in 1995, Jay was also the one who got Hugh Grant to offer the world his strangely charming apology after being arrested for lewd conduct in a public place with Hollywood prostitute Divine Brown. ""I think you know in life what's a good thing to do and what's a bad thing, and I did a bad thing, and there you have it," he said. It was one of the first times a celebrity decided to face an embarrassing episode head on instead of spin the issue or go into seclusion and pretend it didn't happen, and it paid off: the public forgave him and he continues to have a booming career today (particularly if you're a fan of romantic comedies). Here's the Jay Leno interview, if you're interested.

2. Bill Clinton, of course, had a lot of "˜splainin to do after the whole Monica Lewinsky scandal. In what was perhaps the most public apology of all time "“ a nationally televised address "“ Clinton said, "Indeed, I did have a relationship with Ms. Lewinsky that was not appropriate. In fact, it was wrong. It constituted a critical lapse in judgment and a personal failure on my part for which I am solely and completely responsible."

3. Celebrity sex tape scandals are almost getting to be commonplace these days. In fact, some celebrities would probably die for that kind of publicity. A sex tape involving a minor? Now that's bad news. Just ask Rob Lowe, whose sex tape involving two girls "“ one of them a 16-year-old "“ got him in big trouble in 1988. He apologized for his bad behavior, although he didn't know the girl was only 16 (and it was later proven that they met at a bar she had lied about her age to get in to) and after a couple of years of being on the outs with Hollywood, he rebuilt his career.

4. John Lennon's the-Beatles-are-more-popular-than-Jesus statement is one of the original P.R. snafus. After making an offhanded comment about how crazy Beatlemania was getting, the Vatican denounced the Fab Four, people all over the world burned Beatles records, and death threats even started to roll in. The Beatles held a press conference on August 11, 1966, in which Lennon explained that he was simply referring to the madness of their popularity, and that the statement was "never meant to be a lousy anti-religion thing."

PEOPLE WILLIAMS5. Probably the worst thing you can do when you're pulled over by a cop is to assault him or her with ethnic slurs. Mel Gibson learned that the hard way. A totally tanked Gibson told the Jewish officer, "[expletive] Jews... The Jews are responsible for all the wars in the world. Are you a Jew?" This among other things, apparently, that were not released to the public. Once sober, Gibson realized the error of his ways (read: wanted to save his career) and issued the following lengthy statement:

"After drinking alcohol on Thursday night, I did a number of things that were very wrong and for which I am ashamed. I drove a car when I should not have, and was stopped by the LA County Sheriffs. The arresting officer was just doing his job and I feel fortunate that I was apprehended before I caused injury to any other person. I acted like a person completely out of control when I was arrested, and said things that I do not believe to be true and which are despicable. I am deeply ashamed of everything I said. Also, I take this opportunity to apologize to the deputies involved for my belligerent behavior. They have always been there for me in my community and indeed probably saved me from myself. I disgraced myself and my family with my behavior and for that I am truly sorry. I have battled with the disease of alcoholism for all of my adult life and profoundly regret my horrific relapse. I apologize for any behavior unbecoming of me in my inebriated state and have already taken necessary steps to ensure my return to health."

6. Christian Bale: the egotistical, f-bomb dropping tirade that was heard "˜round the world. I know you've already seen it, but in case you haven't, here you go. And in case you haven't seen it and you're at work, here's the summary: the director of photography disrupted Bale's concentration by walking into his line of sight (twice) and Bale let him have it for nearly four minutes. He later called in to KROQ radio station in L.A. and said,

"It's been a miserable week for me. I know I have a pottymouth, everybody knows that now. I have no confusion whatsoever. I was out of order beyond belief, I was way out of order. I acted like a punk, I regret that and there is nodbody that has heard that tape that has been hit harder by it [than me]. I make no excuses for it, it is inexcusable and I hope that is absolutely clear."

sheen7. Charlie Sheen has done a lot of things he should have probably apologized for over the years, but the most recent one is from 2008, when he publicly apologized for the names he called Denise Richards in a 2005 voicemail that was "leaked" to the public: the C-word and the N-word. Yes, that N-word. There was also an e-mail which told her to "Go cry to your bald mom" "“ Richards' mother was going through chemotherapy at the time. He didn't apologize for that, but he did apologize for his choice of insults. He told Us Weekly, "I deeply apologize by my choice of words to all I have obviously offended; especially to Tony Todd, an African-American, who was my best man at my first two weddings. Three and one-half years later, the reasons that caused the anger and frustration displayed on that voice mail continue to be manifested on a daily basis"¦ my children did not show up today for a custodial visit without explanation." Convenient time to name-drop, no?

8. Surprise: this isn't Kanye's first apology. Last summer, he apologized to fans after he kept them waiting for two hours at Bonnaroo. But if you ask me, it was a pretty half-hearted apology: ""This is the most offended I've ever been ... This is the maddest I will ever be. It broke my heart that I couldn't give these fans 'Stronger' in its finest form. I'm sorry to everyone that I didn't have the ability to give the performance I wanted to. I'm sorry."

9. Did you know Johnny Cash single-handedly depleted half of the world's California Condor population at one point? He was driving in Los Padres National Forest in California oil from a cracked bearing dripped onto the wheel and caught the truck on fire "“ which also caught the grass on fire. The fire caught fast, but Johnny managed to save his fishing pole from the back, and then he pretended to be so engrossed in fishing in a nearby creek that he didn't notice his truck had caught the forest on fire. He had to go through depositions and was quite biligerant during the line of questioning. Straight from his autobiography, here's an excerpt:

"Did you start this fire?"
"No, my truck did, and it's dead, so you can't question it."
"Do you feel bad about what you did?"
"Well, I feel pretty good right now." (he was on amphetamines,for the record)
"But how about driving all of those condors out of the refuge?"
"You mean those big yellow buzzards?"
"Yes, Mr. Cash, those yellow buzzards."
"I don't give a damn about your yellow buzzards. Why should I care?"

Yikes. So he wasn't very apologetic at the time, and it doesn't really look like he necessarily apologized in his biography, either, and was more concerned with how much the government sued him for (he ended up paying them $125,000 in 1964 money) and said he was the only person the government had ever sued and successfully collected from for starting a forest fire (that was as of 1997).

10. In 1990, rapper and television personality Dee Barnes interviewed Ice Cube about leaving N.W.A. In 1991, Dr. Dre retaliated for her negative publicity by kicking the crap out of her. According to Rolling Stone, he ran into her at a record release party, where he kicked things off by slamming her face and the right side of her body into a wall over and over. His bodyguard held back the people who tried to come to her defense. Then Dre tried to throw her down the stairs, and when she resisted, he started kicking her in the ribs. She ran into the women's bathroom, but he followed her and grabbed her by the hair and punched her in the back of the head. Seems like something to issue an apology for, wouldn't you think? Hm. This was Dre's take on the whole thing: "People talk all this shit, but you know, somebody [expletive] with me, I'm gonna [expletive] with them. I just did it, you know. Ain't nothing you can do now by talking about it. Besides, it ain't no big thing-- I just threw her through a door."

Of the ones who apologized "“ who was sincere and who did it because their publicists told them to? And what other public apologies stand out in your head?

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September 15, 2009 - 1:33pm
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