Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Publicity 101, plus two bonus musings

Today's Subject: How To Apologize When You Don't Think You Did Anything Wrong

So you snorted some cocaine off a hooker's breasts and then beat up a man who had no hands. So what? The whole reason you became famous was so that you could do these things with impunity. But the suits want you to issue a public apology. Well, then, it's time for you to issue what I'm going to call the "nopology," a phrase carefully designed to make it look like you're apologizing when you are, in fact, doing no such thing.

Nopologies rely on grammatical tricks and a positive bias from an audience that wants to hear your apologize. The oldest nopology in the book is "Mistakes were made." It's a classic because its use of the passive voice ensures that you never have to say who made the mistake. (Probably the guy with no hands.)

The next advance in nopologies is the "I'm sorry if…" phrase, here demonstrated by Annie Leibovitz:

I'm sorry that my portrait of Miley has been misinterpreted.

This is a brilliant nopology. It begins with the words "I'm sorry." The ignorant pukes out there will zone out after those two words: that's what they expected to hear from Annie. But look carefully at that sentence again.

I'm sorry that my portrait of Miley has been misinterpreted.

What is Annie apologizing for? She's sorry for the misinterpretation. In other words, she has not said that she's sorry for anything she did. She is saying that she's sorry for the way somebody else thought of her actions. This nopology is the greatest evolution of a ploy you may have used in grade school:

I'm sorry… sorry that you're an idiot!

(Please start using the word "nopology" in your daily life and we'll see if we can get this one in a dictionary someday.)

Bonus #1: Wal*Mart owns Ocean Pacific? When did that happen? Is this going to lead to a bunch of "California Games" players defecting to the Maxx-Out or Casio teams?

Bonus #2: If you're a sketch comedy writer, here's a premise for you. Yosemite Sam makes a guest appearance on "Deadwood."

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