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Here's The Problem With Norm MacDonald's Apology

By Kristy Puchko | Streaming | September 12, 2018 |

By Kristy Puchko | Streaming | September 12, 2018 |


Norm MacDonald, once famous for playing pompous, ignorant assholes on Saturday Night Live, revealed himself to be a pompous, ignorant asshole in an interview with The Hollywood Reporter in which he defended Chris Hardwick, Roseanne Barr and Louis C.K. So for the record, the comedian asked our sympathy for a man accused of emotional abuse, a woman who publicly made bullying racist statements, and a man who masturbated in front of female co-workers. It was a hat-trick of f—kery.

After the interview hit, “Norm MacDonald” began trending on Twitter with many users expressing outrage at his callous comments. Eventually, MacDonald tweeted an apology.

Some might find this apology sincere. Hey—they might argue—they are his friends. Who could blame him for wanting to humanize their plight? But even as MacDonald says he doesn’t intend to minimize the pain of their victims, he regards Barr and C.K.’s actions as “mistakes.” It’s a mistake when you get on the wrong train or forget to call your grandma on her birthday. Roseanne Barr has repeatedly used her fame and Twitter account to support and spread vicious and arguably racist conspiracy theories. The tweet that led to her downfall was not an anomaly. Louis C.K. repeatedly used his position of fame and power to pressure female co-workers into sexual scenarios and then relied on that same power to silence them. That’s not a “mistake,” it’s a pattern of behavior.

And by MacDonald’s own admission, he doesn’t think what Barr did was that bad. Here he is saying, “She’s paying a heavy penance for whatever transgression you might think she did.”

Just because MacDonald thinks they’re funny, doesn’t mean they are good guys. It doesn’t mean they deserve or have earned that second chance their apologists keep crying out for. To our knowledge, neither Barr nor C.K. has done anything positive except to apologize. But apologizing is not the end of the road to redemption. It’s a promise to do better. And there’s been no evidence that either is doing anything different. Taking a few months out of the public eye isn’t a punishment. Hell, for many celebs, it’s a relief. And losing their shows and becoming reviled? That’s the consequences of their actions. Sure, you can have sympathy for how hard that might be. But to let that sympathy overshadow the negative impact their actions had on others is repulsive.

MacDonald writes, “If my words sounded like I was minimizing the pain that their victims feel to this day, I am deeply sorry.” They did. They did exactly that. There’s no “if” about it, Jason Bateman. You did minimize their pain by suggesting it was harder for Louis C.K. and Roseanne Barr to face their horrid behavior than it was to be subject to it. You were wrong. When you’re wrong, you apologize. And when you apologize, know that’s a sincere promise to do better. Because if it’s not, it’s just PR.

And hey, did I mention MacDonald has a new show coming to Netflix on Friday? So, yeah. I suspect this is PR and not a sincere apology. While some might say there’s no such thing as bad publicity, I suspect some long-time MacDonald fans will feel less inclined to check out Norm MacDonald Has A Show. And fewer people will see it promoted on television, as The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon has canceled the comedian’s appearance.

A Tonight Show spokesperson told THR, “Out of sensitivity to our audience and in light of Norm Macdonald’s comments in the press today, The Tonight Show has decided to cancel his appearance on Tuesday’s telecast.”

Maybe you still think this is an overreaction. Maybe MacDonald made a “mistake.” Nope. Twitter’s got the receipts that this is just the latest in disturbing opinions McDonald has publicly shared.

Like here’s his tweet to famous misogynist Jordan Peterson.

Here’s the full quote from MacDonald, via HuffPo:

They wanted me to do Weekend Update with a lady. Like the two of us. And I thought I don’t want to do that, that sounds like shit. I was like if there’s a lady and a dude, what are we making fun of local news or something? What the fuck is that?

And (Lorne Michaels) was like, no, no….he had some crazy idea. And I think he liked me because I didn’t understand what he was talking half the time. He goes “You’ll be Fred Astaire, she’ll be Ginger. You’ll give her the comedy and she’ll give you the sex.” And I was like, ‘The dancers?’ And I had no idea what the fuck he was talking about.

So anyway I said, I don’t want to do it with a fucking lady; let [Al] Franken do it.

MacDonald promoting sexism and mocking Me Too isn’t a mistake. It’s his brand.

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Kristy Puchko is the managing editor of Pajiba. You can follow her on Twitter.

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