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CULTURE

Chrissy Teigen and the art of the celebrity apology

Words by Nathan Irvine

Humbled Hollywood

After weeks of anticipation, Chrissy Teigen has apologised – again – for the grim messages she was caught sending to people on social media. Well, sort of. The former supermodel used a 1000+ word Medium post to address the historical trolling, but it doesn’t quite read as a “sorry”. It’s far more aimed at explaining just how much she has changed since messaging people to kill themselves, with a small dash of “woe is me” added for good measure. It’s the classic celebrity apology. More a spin piece about how they were found out made a mistake, but are definitely not like that anymore. Promise.

We’ve had plenty of these in recent years - Ellen DeGeneres (bullying), Louis C.K. (indecent exposure) and even Logan Paul (stupidity) who filmed a dead body for his YouTube channel. They’re less about soul-searching and genuinely apologising and more of a way to try and bring focus back to the things we all used to love them for. It’s like the memory erasing flash pen from Men In Black, but with more grovelling and fake tears.

The art of constructing an apology is, we’d imagine, a fairly difficult thing to navigate. With the prevalence of cancel culture on social media, even the most heartfelt apology can and will be torn apart. The outrage often doesn’t stop until they lose everything. Sponsorship deals, TV shows, the lot. Nothing less than financial ruin and a career implosion will do.

Shutterstock Courtney Stodden was the first to reveal Chrissy Teigen's malicious messages.

Spin cycle

In truth, the apology is just the first stage of the celebrity spin machine. They know they’re going to cop flack from some quarters, but it’s a necessary step to get themselves back on their pedestal. The next stage is the apology tour. Depending on the size of the celebrity, and the severity of their crime, they’ll be plonked onto talk show sofas to repeat lines from their original apology as the host throw out a range of soft questions to help them out of a tough spot. There might even be a couple of tears of remorse.

Stage three is probably the most difficult. It simply involves sitting in relative silence, away from Twitter, Insta and the like and trying to gauge how the media appearance was received. Are people still leaving hateful comments on the celebrities’ social media channels – or worse still, have they ramped up? Then it's back on another TV show with a fresh apology angle. Has the noise died down? Then crack on like nothing ever happened and employ someone to prune out the negative comments to keep the celeb smelling fresh.

And that’s it. Before you know it, a new endorsement deal has been struck, new fans have filled in the gaps of those that unfollowed them and they can get back to making a living again.

In the case of Chrissy Teigen, it’s not going to be so straightforward. No sooner had she linked to her apology, stylist Michael Costello, posted screenshots of conversations he had with Teigen where she wished him dead. There will be more people who have kept the receipts of her awfulness and the way back looks set to be bumpy. Expect another apology in a couple of weeks or so.

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