“My only problem with politically correctness really, apart from the fact that it’s po-faced, sanctimonious, self-righteous occasionally, is that it’s not effective.” British writer and comedian Stephen Fry may not believe in the effectiveness of political correctness, but a lot of other media personalities would disagree. For them, its power is acutely felt. Loose-lipped YouTubers, overly informal talkshow hosts and blockbuster actors: they all had their run-ins with political correctness, for anything from using inappropriate and insensitive language over controversial castings to tousling Trump’s hair.
The ensuing backlash meant that often, these stars of big and small screens had to offer an apology. The uneasy and often playacted sincerity in such apologies was not lost on film student Leon Leenders. This video essay is the result: a series of five public mea culpas, combined with a news headline that provides some context for each act of contrition.
With this edit, Leon Leenders does not offer an explicit opinion on the subject. The video essay does not openly endorse the PC admonishment of these stars, nor does it side with the apologetic personalities. It wants the viewer to make up her or his own mind, even explicitly offering “1 penny for your thoughts”.
However, the addition of the sound effect of typing on keyboards can be read as an elegant and creative way of commenting on the wisdom of these practices – both the reprimands and the reparations. As the crescendo typing drowns out the apologies, we are left wondering about the balance between the transgression and the reaction, between the public backlash and the public atonement.
The YouTube channels featured in this video essay are:
The news articles referred to in this video essay are:
Dachille, A. (2019, June 12). YouTube Star Shane Dawson Apologizes for Racist Videos & I’m Not Buying It — VIDEO.
Doctor Strange: Tilda Swinton feels vindicated over ‘white washing’ controversy. (2016, October 24). [YouTube]
Gilbert, B. (2017, September 12). YouTube’s biggest star, PewDiePie, apologizes for using the n-word: ‘I’m just an idiot’.
Jaworski, M. (2018, June 21). Jimmy Fallon apologized for his infamous Trump interview.
Shepherd, K. (2017, May 5). Chris Pratt apologizes for posting video some deaf people found offensive: Report.