Jonah Hill Delivers Perfect, Sorkin-esque Apology on 'The Tonight Show' For Uttering Homophobic Slur

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Jonah Hill Delivers Perfect, Sorkin-esque Apology on 'The Tonight Show' For Uttering Homophobic Slur

By Dustin Rowles | Trade News | June 4, 2014 | Comments ()

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I am sorry. I’m feeling weirdly cynical about Jonah Hill’s apology tour, and it’s not because I don’t think he’s being sincere. Or rather, it’s not that I think he’s homophobic. It’s just that I feel like I’ve seen this Jonah Hill character in one or more of this movies, the “Oh, please don’t kill me, Mr. Assassin, I promise I won’t tell anyone” guy begging for his life, only I don’t think his celebrity was ever in danger. GLAAD hasn’t been calling for his head. I haven’t seen any angry open letters. No one is protesting 22 Jump Street. I very much doubt anyone thinks that Jonah Hill is honestly homophobic, though they may find his choice of words to be ill-advised and dumb.

Look: He said a word he shouldn’t have said unless he was saying it as a character in one of his movies, in which case no one bats an eyelash (and I looked: The word has been used in at least two Jonah Hill movies, Superbad and Knocked Up). And while it very much is a homophobic word, I don’t think that he ascribed any homophobic meaning to it anymore than Al Swearengen ascribes homophobic meaning to the word “cocksucker.”

I think Vince over at FilmDrunk summed it up best when he basically said that no, Jonah Hill shouldn’t have used the word, but he should have kicked that scumbag paparazzo’s ass.

And this? This apology? The way Jonah Hill slows it down, puts on his serious voice, and looks into the camera … it’s hard not to believe that Olivia Pope is not backstage pumping her fist triumphantly. Jonah Hill doesn’t have two Academy Award nominations for nothing, folks, which is not to say that I don’t think Jonah Hill feels genuinely sorry. I just think he’s delivering a hard sell when a simple “I fucked up” would do.

See? Should we be grading that for authenticity, or for the performance?

“I’m really sorry! I shouldn’t have said that, now please go see my movie where I probably make a lot of gay jokes about Channing Tatum!”

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Comments Are Welcome, Bigots and Trolls Are Not

  • blasterion

    I'm not a native English speaker, so I may have missed fagg*t becoming a "generic curse word", but I'm gay and I genuinely think it's an awful, hateful word. As someone said here in the comment section, it seems pretty clear-cut to me that it is homophobic by its very nature -- plus, Jonah even threw in a c*ck-sucking reference in the original insult, no? We have a similar word here in Dutch and yeah, kids throw it around on high-school playgrounds, but with the specific purpose of question the other's manliness.

    I'm not saying Jonah Hill should be severely punished for daring to utter the word, but yes, as a celebrity in the public spotlight, I think the guy fucked up.

  • RobynRobotron

    It's not a generic curse word, the reason it's an insult is because of the idea that being gay is something to be ashamed of.

  • Coolg82

    I didn't think he truly meant anything with what he said, mainly because he is in the generation who use homophobic slurs as just generic curse words, like bastard and motherfucker, which only rarely are spoken with their true meaning intact. I still think he is unfunny, by which I mean he is the opposite of funny.

  • basse buus

    Really?! He fucked up, he apologized. I am definitely not a fan of his, but he sounds sincere, and looked genuinely upset.

  • Stacey A

    I dunno. Hill very intensely wants to be taken seriously as an actor and throwing down a word like that could really reverse a lot of time he's spent gaining people's respect. He could legitimately be feeling anguish over hurting others and frustration at himself for giving others an easy reason to think that he's an asshole.

    What bothers me most about this, though, is that Hill gets to put on his serious-face for Fallon, while a few days ago Shailene Woodley doesn't? C'mon.

  • ljridley

    I think the calculation the Fallon people are making (and I haven't watched the above clip, so I could be wrong) is that Hill comes off as serious, but cuddly, whereas Woodley comes off as [insert whatever offensive feminist stereotype here]. Obviously that is problematic for all kinds of reasons, not least of which the whole silencing thing which comes with cutting that piece of Woodley's interview.

  • Sirilicious

    That is weird. The below message has been awaiting approval by Pajiba for 7 minutes now. So i censored the female anatomy-part to check if that is the hurdle. If it is, i feel it helps to prove my point.
    [ETA: it is]


    He might not have ascribed homophobic meaning to it, but the word
    holds that meaning all by itself. If my boyfriend is getting majorly
    harassed by some woman and calls her a c***, he will still get major
    side eye from me. I definitely understand the urge to use something that
    would hurt the harasser the most, but when we use words that are used
    by oppressors*, we help the oppressors continue the toxic culture.

    * sounds a bit dramatic, but i couldn't think of a better word to explain my view.

  • Arran

    I buy it more than with Alec Baldwin, anyway.

  • ZombieNurse

    I think this is where we have gotten as a society. We are all so scared of offending people that we trip over ourselves to apologize if we even THINK we said something that we shouldn't have. Even more so for celebrities, because if they piss off the wrong group of people, the internet at large will call for them to be burned at the stake, boycott their movies, have them blackballed...whatever. I'd be terrified if I were a celebrity. I say dumb stuff all the time without meaning any malice.

  • Siege

    I also understand the cynicism, but even if it IS faked, I appreciate how it's been done. He DIDN'T wait until someone was calling for his head. And it wasn't "I'm sorry if people are offended" it's been very clearly "I'm sorry for doing this because it was WRONG and unacceptable and here is why." If someone is going to go on an apology tour, at least it's a decent apology.

  • JoeK

    "Jonah Hill doesn’t have two Academy Award nominations for nothing, folks."

  • RobynRobotron

    Mr Show clips always get an upvote from me.

  • I *kind of* get some of the cynicism. Part of my brain wonders if Hill would have been as quick to apologize if he didn't have a movie coming out in a week.

    But, honestly, I think he's sincere. He let anger get the better of him and I think his apology serves as a good example of how to be genuinely regretful in the face of controversy. It didn't feel like a performance to me at all.

  • Andrew J Moore


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