Best and Worst Celebrity Apologies of 2023

The celebrity apology has become a definitive sign of the times. We live in a time when celebrities can mingle with everyday people on social media platforms and share their opinions, be they good or bad, right along with us.

We also live in a time where nothing is private and whatever is said or done by celebrities is immediately broadcast to the world, and prompt apologies for bad behavior are expected. It’s been said that celebrity apologies are a minefield of odd choices and insincerity, and it seems true that most celebrity apologies are messy.

If you ask most people, they would probably agree that there is a right way and a wrong way to handle an apology as a celebrity. Here are some approaches that celebrities may want to keep in mind the next time they come down with “foot in mouth” disease, and an overview of some of the winners — and losers — in mea culpas for 2023.

The Best Ways to Apologize

When one has done something wrong, said something offensive, or been called out for behavior that warrants an apology, they may be concerned about not apologizing correctly, especially for people in the public eye. Celebrities are aware that their every word, timing, and level of sincerity will be heavily scrutinized.

The most important factor in any apology is authenticity. A known public figure embroiled in a controversy should swiftly address the controversy and admit mistakes without excuses. Apologies should demonstrate vulnerability and take full responsibility for one’s actions. If the response to a mistake is vague and full of excuses, blames others, or comes a long time after the mistake, it may read inauthentic.

In some cases, apologies should also involve concrete actions, including donations to causes, participation in an educational program, or actively engaging with an affected community in an attempt to rectify the situation face-to-face. Moreover, the best apologies involve inclusive language, acknowledging the affected group, and displaying empathy towards those harmed.

Lastly, effective apologies by notable individuals should be consistent across media platforms. They can involve interviews, social media posts, and press releases. The type of media involved will likely depend on the level of offence caused.

One of the better apologies of 2023 that utilized most of these markers was Emily Hampshire’s apology for dressing up like Johnny Depp and Amber Heard with a friend for Halloween. Hampshire, best known for her work on “Schitt’s Creek,” experienced near-immediate backlash once pictures of her dressed as Depp brandishing a wine bottle surfaced. She swiftly addressed the offence, acknowledged that she — and she alone — made a terrible error in judgment, and sincerely apologized for offending sufferers of domestic violence. Her apology did not make any excuses or blame anyone else for her actions.

Luke Combs is another apology winner in 2023. When his legal team discovered that a fan was selling tumblers featuring Combs’s likeness, they issued a lawsuit against the Florida-based woman for $250,000. The lawsuit came as the woman was battling congestive heart failure in the hospital, causing her to miss the 21-day window for a response. Her Amazon funds were frozen, and she had no access to the money she had made to pay for her medical needs.

Upon discovering the situation, Combs himself reached out to apologize and gave the woman $11,000, twice the amount she had made on the tumblers. He then began selling similar tumblers on his own site and donating the proceeds to the fan’s family to pay for her medical care.

The Worst Ways to Apologize

Excellent apologies from celebrities are hard to come by, mostly because we like to revel in the bizarre nature of bad apologies. When a celebrity sits in the most humble spot in their mansion in a plain white t-shirt and sheds a few tears, social media eats it up. There are terrible ways to approach a public apology, and we have been privy to examples of all of these in 2023.

Insincerity and lack of remorse are signs of a bad apology. If a celebrity isn’t genuinely sorry for what they did or who they hurt, that will come through loud and clear in their apology, eroding trust and possibly hurting their careers in the long term.

Celebrities can also easily mishandle PR, even with a solid PR team behind them. If one’s team isn’t equipped to handle crisis management, they can run the risk of making an issue worse.

Lastly, failure to address an issue at all can lead to swift backlash from the public and be nearly impossible to recover from in some cases.

There was a litany of bad apologies in 2023, but one of the most infamous was the Ashton Kutcher and Mila Kunis apology tape that followed the letters they wrote in support of former co-star Danny Masterson, who was put away for 30 years on rape charges. Seated in front of a wood wall, makeup-free, and in plain clothes, the pair said they were sorry for “any pain they may have caused.” Many felt the apology video was insincere and didn’t acknowledge any wrongdoing. When Kutcher said the letters were “for the judge to read,” this led many to opine that the pair were simply sorry the letters were made public, not that they had written them in the first place.

Apologies are a fact of life, even celebrity life, but celebrities are only human and will make mistakes and say hurtful things. By remaining sincere, authentically sorry, and making amends gracefully, celebrities can ride out a storm of bad PR after a slip-up and maintain their celebrity status going forward.

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