One of the many things I’ve inherited from my father is a great bullshit detector. I pride myself on being able to read people very well, especially those that are full of it. There are of course the exceptions – some people do it very well and hard to detect at first blush - but for the most part, I think I’ve navigated the waters of the unctuous and insincere fairly well.
I think this in-built meter is part of what drives me nuts about acts of public contrition. (I am also realizing that my Englishness is coming out more and more every day). If you have to throw yourself on the mercy of the audience in tears and fits of emotional apologies, then my bet is you’re full of it and are purely doing it for the press. Furthermore, if your behavior was so bad to begin with to warrant a public apology, then that should’ve been your first red flag! Now granted, most people’s mistakes and flaws in life are done behind closed doors - as they should be. But for those in the public eye, the apology has been turned into a full scale circus act, complete with costume (I assure you, PR reps are orchestrating every move down to the color of one’s tie), tears, religious protestations and promises of redemption, and of course a well worded confessional that smacks of some thespian inspired soliloquy mixed with a few ‘Chicken Soup for the Soul’ excerpts.
In the news in the UK recently – cause as I’ve mentioned before, this is apparently news – Naomi Campbell went on Oprah. A fabulous platform for confessionals by the way, if you can get on the mighty Opes, then you must really be sorry. Anyway, she of course spilled her guts about being a total rageaholic – as well as her dieting tips; I do love the juxtaposition (“no, I swear I’m so sorry about my behavior, and yes, I’m a size 2, isn't it fabulous!”). The tears were plentiful, the facial expressions contorted in remorse and regret, and the confessions, embarrassing to say the least. In short, if she does not get what she wants from hired help or the like, she goes mach-4 mental.
So let me get this straight. You’re a millionaire. Your fiancé is a billionaire. You have a successful career, homes all over the world, and yet if your limo driver is late, you chuck your Manolo Blahnik at his head and hope to break skin? I'm unclear. At this point am I supposed to feel sorry for you? In my book, it’s quite simple: if you’re throwing shoes and electronic devices at those who you pay to serve you like slaves, I don’t care if you have Mandela on speed dial, you’re as spoiled as the day is long. And by going on television and admitting this glaring fact you're just embarrassing yourself. Please stop!
This is where I become quite English. I squirm at public revelations, the tears (and I’m an admitted weeper! But I of course would swallow my tongue before I’d go on TV and do this for the nation), the histrionics, the outright ploys to win the audience over to the dark side. Forgive me Ne Ne (that’s what I gather Naomi’s friends must call her. That or Surly Cow) but you’re not that sorry. You’re just sorry you keep getting caught, and the thought of doing more community service makes your botox smoothed skin wrinkle in sheer fear. My bet is, with the eleventh cell phone hurled in the air, you are clearly enjoying this.
That goes for the rest of you public figures out there caught with your pants down (in most cases, literally) – save the press conferences for the President, national disasters, actual news, and simply issue a statement that reads, ‘I’m a total idiot. I know this.’ (Hugh Grant did it brilliantly btw post prostitute scandal) The scary part is from where I sit, half the time it’s not the acts that even bother me, I can rationalize them – you see how low my expectations are when it comes to people – humans are very flawed and temptation is ripe especially for those who can have whatever they want. As we know, money, for many, is the most corruptible force out there. But it is the insincere apologies that drive me nuts. And lately they've been coming fast and furious, I can't even keep track of who did what and to whom. ("Wait are you the embezzler? Or did you sleep with 40 whores like some Roman Senator - wait, I meant U.S Senator. No, you threw a TV at your housekeepers head! That's right!") So please, save us your theatrical acts of contrition, and give us back our TV air space, cause no one is buying it.