Intro for August 30, 2016
Jason LaVeris /FilmMagic
Last week, in a post about Justin Bieber removing himself from Instagram because he was getting into too many Instagram fights, I wrote about how social media has changed the game, not only for celebrities but for their publicists. Social media in the hands of an idiot – and so many of them are f-cking idiots – makes a publicist’s job harder but it also makes the publicist even more essential, because they’re called in more often to clean up the mess.
These days, social media is often where celebrities f-ck up. Afterwards, social media is often where celebrities apologise for the original f-ck up. The apologies are often inadequate. As the LA Times notes in an article published a few days ago, “social media may have many uses, but providing a platform for sincere expressions of deep regret isn’t one of them”.
Not too long ago though, celebrities weren’t saying sorry on Twitter. They were doing it on television. That’s where Justin Bieber started his Tour of Contrition a year and a half ago – with repeated appearances on Ellen, followed by a roast on Comedy Central. And before that it was Hugh Grant and Robert Downey Jr and a long list of others who used TV to seek forgiveness but only after offering themselves up for public flagellation. This is where social media can never replace TV because, according to that LA Times piece:
“Public atonement requires public abasement and for public abasement, you need television. It’s not enough for a star/hero/senator/role model to admit to being human (um, we know that), the audience needs to see that humanity first-hand, judge it for themselves. Viewers need to see the deep regret and inner pain for themselves, need to gauge the level of sincerity in the explanation. As we're discovering, it's a deceptively significant ritual that is very difficult to perform.”
It’s true. A celebrity apology/explanation/ugly cry is must-see TV. And there are certain television personalities who specialise in presiding over them. JB was an exception for Ellen because her show is too fun for public flagellation. She’s not in the apology business. That’s what Oprah, Barbara Walters, and Diane Sawyer were for. David Letterman did it well too. Because the audience trusted all of them to be skeptical but compassionate, to draw out the answers, the gestures, the facial expressions, and the EMOTION that we could then analyse as evidence and/or turn into catchphrases. This is a skill most host/presenters think they have but few really do. “Real penitential television is an art form and it’s in danger of being lost.”
Who should they go to now to say sorry?
Yours in gossip,