Two habitual bad actors in the world of entertainment apologized this week, for similar reasons and with equivalent credibility.
First, baseball slugger Manny Ramirez issued an apology to his former team once removed, The Boston Red Sox, for forcing the team to trade him in the middle of the 2008 pennant race because Manny was faking injuries, refusing to hustle during game, assaulting employees, and poisoning team morale and discipline. “I think everything was my fault,” Ramirez said. “You’ve got to be a real man to realize when you do wrong. Hey, it was my fault, right? I’m already past that stage. I’m happy. I’m in a new team,” Manny told reporters. He was with a new team, all right: the Dodgers, his previous team, let him go to the Chicago White Sox for nothing because, well, he was faking injuries, dogging it in the field…same act, different stage. So what was the apology about?
Manny, or more likely his agent, realizes this most recent break with a team as the result of his habitually juvenile and unprofessional attitude might cost him a lot of money at contract time—Ramirez is a free agent after all. So contrition was called for—two full years after he laughed off any suggestions that he was at fault for the Boston debacle, and proved that he had been loafing on the field by playing in L.A. like he was on fire. This isn’t an apology; it’s damage control, and thus is a deceitful and dishonest apology that has nothing whatsoever to do with genuine regret. The big tip-off is that Ramirez felt he had to explain why his apology was so admirable. Yes, Manny, you have to be a real man to admit you’re wrong; a real jerk to fake an apology to fool a future employer into believing that you’ve turned over a new leaf, and real fool to believe anyone will fall for it.
Then there is rapper Kanye West. Last Fall, he interrupted the acceptance speech of young Taylor Swift at the MTV Video Music Awards, grabbing her microphone to announce that she didn’t deserve the honor. It was just the latest of many obnoxious public outbursts by West, but seemed to be a tipping point: his career and popularity suddenly hurtled southward in a hurry. He apologized, but it wasn’t enough to stop the bleeding. Now, like Ramirez, West has decided that another apology to Swift is prudent, so he took to Twitter for a marathon series of tweets whining about how mean everyone had been to him since he proved he had no more sense of fairness or respect than a typical pre-schooler:
The media has successfully diminished the “receptive” audience of (3rd person)… KANYE WEST
There are people who don’t dislike me… they absolutely hate me!
Remember in Anchor Man when Ron Burgandy cursed on air and the entire city turned on him?
But this wasn’t a joke. This was & is my real life People booed when I would go to concerts and the performer mentioned my name.
His remedy is to offer a peace offering to Taylor Swift in the form of a song for her to record. Not because she has been demanding an apology (she accepted his original one), or because West felt that he hadn’t made sufficient amends, but because he realizes that he revealed himself as a boorish jerk, and a lot of people don’t but records by boorish jerks. This isn’t an apology, any more than Manny’s “real man” act. It’s career repair. In Kanye West’s case, the tip-off is the self-pitying tweets describing how unfairly he’s been treated. West hasn’t been treated unfairly at all. He and Manny Ramirez shared the misconception that talent excuses anything, and now that both are finally being held accountable for lifetimes of rude, arrogant and selfish behavior, they see a routeto salvation by offering apologies.
Apologies made for payoffs—better record sales, a new contract—aren’t apologies at all. When one has shown themselves to be untrustworthy as often as Kanye West and Manny Ramirez, apologies are just words. They have to prove that they have changed, and win back trust the old fashioned way…by earning it.