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Top 10 Celebrity Apology Fails

VO: Rebecca Brayton

Script written by Nathan Sharp

Wait, are you sorry or not, because that was confusing. From Paula Deen to Akon to Justin Timberlake, celebrity damage control doesn’t always go as planned. WatchMojo is counting down the worst celebrity apologies.

Special thanks to our users drewbrown and doucey, for suggesting this idea! Check out the voting page at https://WatchMojo.comsuggest/Top%2010%20Failed%20Celebrity%20Apologies


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Script written by Nathan Sharp

Top 10 Failed Celebrity Apologies

Wait, are you sorry or not, because that was confusing. Welcome to, and today we’re counting down our picks for the Top 10 Failed Celebrity Apologies.

For this list, we’ll be looking at various celebrity apologies which many people have claimed to be disingenuous or just straight-up inadequate. We will not be including politicians on this list, so both Anthony Weiner and Donald Trump will not be included, despite their rather lackluster apologies.

#10: Paula Deen

If you’re going to release an apology video, you should probably make it watchable. Deen and her brother, “Bubba” Hiers, found themselves in trouble when Lisa Jackson, a manager at Uncle Bubba’s Seafood and Oyster House, alleged that her work environment was rife with racial discrimination. In a subsequent deposition, Deen then admitted to using the n-word in the past. Her apology video was a mess, and contains a long pause while Deen simply stares at the camera. This video was then taken down and replaced by another. Deen’s not the only chef who’s bad at saying sorry: In 2017, Mario Batali promoted his cinnamon rolls at the bottom of an email apologizing for past sexual misconduct. That’s just a recipe for disaster!

#9: Mischa Barton

On July 5, 2016, Alton Sterling was fatally gunned down by police in Louisiana. Like many others, Barton took to social media to condemn the shooting, but her condemnation came equipped with a carefully shot photo of Barton on a boat in a black bikini holding a glass of wine. Many people criticized her choice of accompanying photo, causing Barton to take to Twitter to apologize if the photo “went out of context.” This is a double fail because, A) What does that even mean? And B) She pulled the classic, “I’m sorry if…” apology, which has never sounded sincere in the history of ever.

#8: Shia LaBeouf

It takes guts to plagiarize an apology when you are apologizing for plagiarism. LaBeouf created an independent movie about an online film critic titled “” However, fans immediately noticed that LaBeouf’s film bore a striking resemblance to Dan Clowes’ comic “Justin M. Damiano,” and by striking resemblance, they felt it was basically ripped straight from the comic, dialogue and all. LaBeouf took to Twitter to apologize, but others quickly noted that his initial tweet was ripped straight from a user on Yahoo! Answers. Like, literally ripped: capitalized “IS” and everything. There are compulsive liars, but LaBeouf made himself appear to be a compulsive plagiarizer.

#7: Mel Gibson

An apology following an anti-Semitic rant must be the apology to end all apologies. Mel Gibson’s was certainly not that. In July 2006, Gibson was arrested for drunk driving. He then infamously unleashed an anti-Semitic rant on the officer, declaring that Jews were responsible for every war and asking him if he was Jewish. He then issued a painfully brief one-paragraph apology, complete with the capper, “I apologize to anyone I may have offended.” This apology so sub-par that he issued a much more thorough and heartfelt apology a few days later, but by that point, his reputation was all but destroyed.

#6: Akon

In 2007, Akon infamously simulated various sex acts with an underage girl on stage. When footage was released Akon was suddenly subjected to a whirlwind of controversy. His apology starts wholesome enough, but it soon spirals into his attempts to place the blame on someone else. After saying that he never intends to take advantage of those under 18, Akon said, “That is why we tried to make sure that the club did not admit anyone under 18 in the audience. Somehow, that standard was not met.” True enough, but an apology never sounds sincere if you redirect the blame someone else.

#5: Justin Timberlake

Super Bowl XXXVIII is now the thing of television legend. During the halftime performance, Timberlake famously ripped off a piece of Janet Jackson’s clothing, revealing her bare breast to the masses. Some people were convinced that the incident was staged, while others believed it to be nothing but a simple “wardrobe malfunction”. While the incident wasn’t solely Timberlake’s fault, he “apologized” at the Grammys, complete with a huge grin and the famous non-apology line, “I apologize if you guys were offended.” Whether you think it was JT’s fault or not, you have to admit that that looks and sounds like one insincere apology.

#4: Michael Richards

For an example of an actor completely ruining their career and reputation in mere minutes, see Michael Richards. All the good will that Richards had accumulated on “Seinfeld” was completely evaporated on November 17, 2006, when he went on an insanely racist tirade against black audience members. He then attempted to apologize on “Letterman” during an interview with Jerry Seinfeld, but it was so awkward that the audience legitimately thought it was a joke and began to laugh. You know you messed up when the audience literally laughs at your apology.

#3: Johnny Depp and Amber Heard

This celebrity pair, who were a couple at the time, were busted in Australia for illegally bringing their pet dogs into the country. It sounds silly, but it's a serious matter, as it breaches Australia’s biosecurity laws, and it could have seen Heard serving ten years in prison. However, when they were cleared on all major charges they were forced to apologize in a scripted video, and boy does it show. Bordering on groans and eye-rolls, this apology was clearly the product of a legally-binding condition. Even Deputy Prime Minister Barnaby Joyce even admitted his belief that the pair wouldn’t have done it on their own accord.

#2: Harvey Weinstein

2016 was the year of celebrity deaths. 2017 was the year of celebrity sexual abuse allegations, and it started with Weinstein. In October 2017, the New York Times reported that over a dozen women had come forward with sexual abuse allegations aimed at him, and it resulted in a truly unusual apology from Weinstein. In it, he declares that Hollywood culture was different in the 60s and 70s, misquoted Jay-Z, and mentioned that he would be focusing his attention on the NRA. There’s really no coming back from sexual abuse, but this apology only added fuel to the fire.

#1: Kevin Spacey

Arguably the biggest star sunk by the Weinstein Effect was Kevin Spacey, when actor Anthony Rapp declared that Spacey allegedly made advances on him when Rapp was only 14. This caused Spacey to issue what is probably the worst apology in history. While he states that he doesn’t remember the encounter agreed that it could’ve happened, he went on to use his apology as a platform for coming out, the timing and wording of which impressed few in the LGBTQ+ community. Many people saw this as nothing but an attempted diversion from the issue at hand, and Spacey’s reputation was permanently destroyed.

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