advertisement
advertisement

The two words that make Ryan Adams’ apology pointless

Following an exposé of his treatment of women, Adams fumbled the most important part of an apology. If you’re not going to do it right, don’t do it at all.

The two words that make Ryan Adams’ apology pointless
Ryan Adams [Photo: Jason LaVeris/FilmMagic via Getty Images]

It has become increasingly clear over the past 16 months or so that many artists are rather artless when it comes to admitting guilt. There was the Louis CK attempt to own up to masturbating at women he worked with, which didn’t even include the words “I’m sorry.” There was also whatever the hell Roseanne Barr was trying to do. And now, Ryan Adams has become the latest artist whose mea culpa was such that he might not have even bothered.

advertisement
advertisement

On Wednesday afternoon, The New York Times published a thoroughly reported exposé in which seven women, including ex-wife Mandy Moore and rising indie star Phoebe Bridger, accused him of offering to help their careers and then dangling sex as a quid pro quo.

“In some cases, [his accusers] said, he would turn domineering and vengeful, jerking away his offers of support when spurned, and subjecting women to emotional and verbal abuse, and harassment in texts and on social media,” the reporters write in the piece.

Among the revelations, perhaps most damning is Adams’ interaction with a female fan that he met online in his late-30s, when she was just 14, which allegedly evolved into graphic texting and phone sex over the next two years, with Adams eventually exposing himself over Skype. (NYT claims to have combed through months of text exchanges.)

Once the story catapulted Adams to the top of Twitter’s trending topics, with many fans registering their disgust, the embattled singer-songwriter issued his apology. See if you can spot where he goes wrong.

The two words that should absolutely not be in this apology–or any apology, really–are “however unintentionally.” These words completely invalidate what an apology is supposed to accomplish: owning up to one’s mistake. If Adams didn’t mean any harm, then it’s that much easier to forgive him. He’s asking us to believe that it’s not like he had any malicious intent or anything. When it comes right down to it, though, it doesn’t matter one whit if he intended to hurt anyone–not when the direct result of his actions was people getting hurt. You don’t get points for being unaware that you’re causing harm when you are in fact causing harm–the mythical male bumbler–especially when it seems pretty clear that Adams knew exactly what he was doing. He certainly seemed to have enough practice. (To repeat, there are seven accusers.)

advertisement

In any case, no matter how insincere Adams’ initial apology seems, he further invalidated it with his two follow-up tweets.

Not only did he not mean to cause harm, but the story is also wrong. All Adams wanted to do was spread joy, and you can’t make a joy omelet without breaking a few hurt-eggs. And also, famously, once a man admits to abusing some women, you should definitely take him at face value on whether he abused as others as well.

Any fan reading Adams’ closing promise of working to be the best man he can be might understandably be far less interested now in finding out what kind of music the best man Adams can be makes in the future.

advertisement
advertisement