No apologies for plain speaking

19 April 2012

Written by: Olivia Wicik

‘I’m a dickhead.’

So said Aussie actor Guy Pearce last weekend, apologising for derogatory comments he made last week on The Late Late Show with Craig Ferguson about the city of Canberra.

‘I’m writing to sincerely apologise for the comments I recently made … I’m such a twit for doing this and feel so embarrassed and mortified at what I said,’ he wrote in a letter issued to The Canberra Times.

The pros and cons of our fair capital city aside, Pearce’s frank and obviously sincere apology comes as a nice change when compared to the highly-polished and unsentimental statements usually issued by celebrities who have erred.

You only have to look to the recent Rush Limbaugh debacle (where Limbaugh repeatedly called a woman a ‘slut’ for using contraception, and requested that the next time she had sex, she should upload the video so that we could all watch, hyuk hyuk). After multiple advertisers quickly bailed from his radio show, Limbaugh – surprise, surprise – issued an ‘apology’, where he claimed he did not mean a ‘personal attack’, really you guys, before going on to say:

‘I personally do not agree that American citizens should pay for these social activities [such as birth control]. What happened to personal responsibility and accountability?’

What a heartfelt apology. ‘I’m sorry you’re such a slut, but if you were less of a slut, well, I wouldn’t have to call you a slut.’ Hiding behind upmarket language does nothing to mask the fact that the apology was insincere and practically produced at gunpoint.

The political sphere is where this doublespeak really shines.  On a Four Corners interview in 2010, a campaigning Julia Gillard was asked by Kerry O’Brien, ‘have you had a shock?’ when Labor had dipped six points in one week. Rather than give a straight-shooting ‘shit yes!’, Gillard pliéd shyly round the question, saying, ‘Well, look, I’m not going to comment on the polls … we had a very, very, very hard week.’

Well of course you had a hard week Jules. You dropped six points. It’s not like you have to be punching in at NASA to figure that out.

But as a member of the Australian public, how refreshing would it have been to hear, ‘Yes, we have had a shock Kerry.’ A simple answer to a simple question. I think the viewing public would have appreciated that.

The public is made up of, for the most part, free-thinking, responsible adults. We deserve to be treated as such. Not spoken down to or looked upon as idiots. We know what’s up. And if we don’t, we should.

A good friend of mine has said on more than one occasion, ‘Everyone makes mistakes, that’s called being human. It’s how you rectify those mistakes that really matters.’

While slagging off Canberra was definitely a dick move, Pearce has gone a long way towards redeeming himself with this timely, earnest and plain-speaking apology.

Now if only certain others would take a look at the ‘dickhead’.


Renee Tibbs graduated with a Master of Global Communications last year and blogs at duck down the alleyway. Follow her on Twitter: @reneealleyway.