Jonah Hill said “faggot” or some derivation thereof about 800 times in “Superbad.” Context is everything, of course, so when Hill used the word, not to make us laugh, but rather to hurt a member of the paparazzi – who was no doubt thrilled upon the word’s utterance – he suddenly became indebted to society. So Hill made the rounds on television’s couches, offering near teary-eyed and seemingly heartfelt apologies for letting slip one of the most reviled words in the English language. It was easy to take his sincerity at face value, as Hill is a long time proponent of equal rights for the LGBTQ community.
Justin Bieber, too, found himself in similar hot water this week after a years-old video, in which he made a racist joke surfaced. Bieber – surprisingly when you consider the general perception of him as held by non-Beliebers – offered a mature, levelheaded, responsibility-taking apology himself.
Though the abovementioned instances are far, far different than say the Donald Sterling incident that finally exposed a long-time asshole as a long-time asshole, the public outcry has been the same: “Talk shit, get hit,” except “talk shit” has been replaced with “say something offensive,” and “get hit” with “apologize, at once!” The problem however, is that an apology from a guy like Sterling accomplishes about as much as an apology that comes after farting in a crowded elevator, while Hill’s and Bieber’s may not have even been necessary at all.
Yes, it was probably smart of Hill and Bieber to offer up their public apologies, but the real enemy is the got’cha culture that put them in the pickle they’re in to begin with. No, no one forced either to say the things they did, but the PR disaster-bating media (and the equally horny public. Don’t think you’re not at fault here either) frothed at the mouth, their righteous nipples getting hard at the thought of condemning people for doing, quite frankly, something that most non-famous people have been guilty of doing at one point or, more likely, a million points in their lives.
Hill, in an effort to pluck a leech off his ass, said something out of frustration. Bieber, trying (and failing) to be funny, made a regrettable joke. You’d be hard pressed to find a person alive who hasn’t said something regrettable, either off the cuff (like Hill) or by design (like the Biebs). So kudos to you if you’ve never done so, but just know that you’re in the minority. Sterling still seems like kind of a dick though.