Celebrity trends come and go, but the stigma of cultural appropriation sticks around forever. At least you can try to make up for your mistakes with an apology.
Chris Hemsworth, Lily Allen and “Saved by the Bell” actor Mark-Paul Gosselaar are three celebrities who’ve recently come forward to say they’re sorry for past costumes, music videos and TV episodes that wrongly mock and steal from cultures not their own.
On Tuesday, Lily Allen backtracked to the year 2013 to apologize for an egregious mistake she made in her music video for “Hard Out Here.” The British singer, who is white, used women of color as props in the video, having them twerk in the background while she dances in front of them.
“I was guilty of appropriating when I did a video called ‘Hard Out Here,’” Allen said on BBC Radio 1 show The Exchange, “which, the intention behind it [was], I definitely wanted to make a feminist statement. But I was guilty of thinking ― assuming ― that there was a one-size-fits-all where feminism is concerned.”
Mark-Paul Gosselaar went back even further than Allen to apologize for an episode of “Saved by the Bell” that most of us probably don’t remember, but would be horrified to see on TV today.
In an interview with Entertainment Weekly, Gosselaar expressed regret over the “Running Zach” episode on the show, which aired in late 1990. The excerpt below pretty much covers all of Zack Morris’ and the rest of the cast’s offenses.
“Of course, he gets into full Native American costume with face paint and a headdress,” Gosselaar said. “That’s another ‘I’m Sorry’ moment ... Actually there’s a picture of me online I found, as well. So, uh, yeah ... good stuff. I hope the kids don’t catch that episode.”
Just last week, Hemsworth perfectly called himself out in an Instagram caption for a wearing an insensitive costume to a New Year’s Eve party last year.
“I would also like to take this opportunity to raise something that has been bothering me for sometime,” the Australian actor wrote. “Last New Year’s Eve I was at a ‘Lone Ranger’ themed party where some of us, myself included, wore the traditional dress of First Nations people. I was stupidly unaware of the offence this may have caused and the sensitivity around this issue. I sincerely and unreservedly apologise to all First Nations people for this thoughtless action.”
Sincere? Check. None of that “sorry if you were offended” BS celebs usually give? Check. Hemsworth nailed it.
These three apologies ― delayed, but genuine ― are great examples of how people in the public eye should say sorry if they’re accused of cultural appropriation.
2016 isn’t quite over yet, so we’re sure more celebrities will come forward to apologize for some of their past offensives. Miley Cyrus, Taylor Swift, Vanessa Hudgens and the entire Kardashian clan ― we’ll be waiting.