Indie rock duo Yacht wanted a lot of attention for the new music video they had planned to release today, and they got it. This week, the band–which consists of Claire L. Evans and Jona Bechtolt, who are also romantic partners–announced via Facebook that a sex tape that they’d made had been stolen, and subsequently leaked to sites like The Pirate Bay and PornHub. A few hours after that announcement, to which their fans reacted with shock and horror, they declared that they were making “Lemonade” out of those lemons (as in, yeah, Beyoncé’s Lemonade) and that they’d decided to take a page out of Louis CK’s book and would be selling the video for $5 themselves, to reclaim their agency after being made the victims of this crime.
Of course, none of this was true. As Jezebel confirmed yesterday, the entire thing was a hoax that had been in the works for months–and they’d even attempted to get the Gawker network to play along, reaching out to them in April with an email to see if they’d be willing to participate (they were not, which isn’t a surprise considering how well sex tape stories have gone for them in the past). The Internet reacted, appropriately, with disgust. Sex tapes, private photos, and more, can and do get stolen and released with shameful frequency, and no part of Yacht’s story seemed sensational–just unfortunate. A handful of the band’s semi-famous friends–Miranda July, fellow indie rocker Nick Thornburn of the band Islands–tweeted their encouragement in weird, since-deleted tweets that referenced how hot the tape was. That’s a weird reaction to a friend’s sex tape being stolen–but since there is no sex tape, it makes a little more sense.
Yacht followed up the reveal that the whole thing had been a hoax intended to promote a new music video for a song called “I Wanna Fuck You Til I’m Dead” with a statement that blamed the band’s critics for being “disturbing” and “irresponsible” in treating their reference to the “cultural trope” that is the celebrity sex tape as though it was a reference to revenge porn, which they called “unfunny, disgusting, [and] morally repugnant.”
Celebrities like, say, Jennifer Lawrence might have a different idea about whether the celebrity sex tape is a simple cultural trope or if it’s also unfunny, disgusting, and morally repugnant. And today, Yacht apologized for the stunt, and for yesterday’s “non-apology.”
But within that message, which the band shared on Facebook, they made a curious decision. The entire sex tape hoax was intended to promote the band’s new music video. (It certainly brought the fact that there was an indie rock band that called themselves Yacht to the attention of a whole lot of people who care about sex crimes perpetrated online, who might not otherwise know.) Within their apology post, they explained that, while they’d been “going back and forth on what to do about the music video this was all supposed to lead up to,” they had planned not to release it at all–but decided, somehow, that it was “important that people be able to see” what they had cooked up, followed by a link to that same video.
In the annals of public relations screw-ups, a botched hoax that offends most of your fans, followed by a non-apology that blames them for being offended, capped off with an apology that’s better–but which shoehorns in a blatant plug to the music video you were trying to hype in the first place in the middle of said apology–is both a tacky execution, and one of the more desperate attempts to have, and eat, your cake at the same time. Yacht’s apology isn’t bad otherwise, but a sincere apology is the last place anybody should be turning to promote a new release.