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Brandeis University's Community Newspaper — Waltham, Mass.

The Self Shelf: Celebrity apologies: A damaging waste of time

Published: February 26, 2010
Section: Opinions

The celebrity stands behind the podium, a solitary figure surrounded by a sea of media.

His crimes have been laid out before the court of public opinion for months.

This is his penance. Stoic and robotic, he reads his written apology like a book on tape.

It is the press’s job to decipher the emotion behind the words, for he will have none of it.

His statements ring hollow, as fake as the spontaneity of his speech.

“I apologize for all of the transgressions … [looks down at notes] that I have committed against my family … [looks down again] … my community … [one more time] and my fans.”

Only then does the absurdity of the situation suddenly appear to me.

This man is trying to make amends with the public for an indiscretion committed against his family.

Meanwhile, he’s only reading the speech the public wants to hear.

Of course, the first celebrity that comes to mind with this situation is Tiger Woods but there have been a number of famous figures who have begged forgiveness at the altar of public opinion. Many a philandering politician have found themselves giving the talk of shame.

Adultery is a very serious issue and there should be consequences for any celebrity who betrays his family.

However, there should not be a media circus the likes of which has encompassed a figure like Tiger Woods.

I’m not blaming the press for reporting that the adultery occurred, but calling for a public apology is out of line.

Why should a celebrity who committed an act of treason against his family issue an apology to the public at large? He should make amends with his family, not the viewer.

Instead, what we get is a public apology with a boring speech that is more attributable to the teleprompter than the heart.

The media circus associated with a celebrity mea culpa is more of a show than anything else. Instead of forcing celebrities to read their public relations directors’ masterwork on national television, why don’t we instead judge them on what they do to heal their families?

It would certainly spare the celebrity – not to mention us – the additional pain of going through the obviously scripted apology.

It would also allow us to judge the transgressor on their actual progress in healing the wounds they have caused, as opposed to the sincerity of their sorrow for their crime.

And, with a little practice, this may even be the start of a system where celebrity transgressors and their victims are given a little more privacy.

Unfaithfulness takes a heavy emotional toll, and it’s unfair for the media to inflict even more pain upon a family that’s already in disarray.

It’s time we stopped requiring celebrities to issue show apologies to society as a whole.

They provide little benefit to anyone and pour salt in familial wounds.

By allowing celebrities to make their own amends and then judging them on this criteria, we can help ensure that actual healing takes place rather than ripping the wound open all over again.