The Year In Unexpected Apologies

Photo: Jim Smeal/REX Shutterstock.
When you live your life in the public eye, it’s really only a matter of time before you make a mistake that millions of people will see. This is often something negligible, like a wardrobe malfunction or accidentally tripping over your own two feet. Other times, it’s something more significant, like an interview where you say something that offends hordes of other, mostly non-famous people. Hence, the institution known as the Celebrity Apology.

Every year, we bear witness to this very public eating of crow. And in 2015, many of the mea culpas came from unexpected stars. While it’s not surprising to see Justin Bieber beg forgiveness for, you know, being a paragon of indecency, it’s pretty shocking when Taylor Swift has to make amends in front of her millions of Twitter followers. Ahead, the most memorable apologies of the year.
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Photo: Jim Smeal/REX Shutterstock.
From: Taylor Swift
To: Nicki Minaj
For: A Twitter misstep

On July 21, Nicki Minaj’s controversial “Anaconda” clip was snubbed for an MTV Video Music Award nomination for Video of the Year. Frustrated, Minaj vented on Twitter. “If your video celebrates women with very slim bodies, you will be nominated for vid of the year,” she tweeted, along with a whole bunch of smiley faces. Swift, feeling that Minaj was taking aim at her “Bad Blood” nomination, responded, “I’ve done nothing but love & support you. It’s unlike you to pit women against each other. Maybe one of the men took your slot…” A tense exchange between the two titans went on for a while. Minaj insisted her comments had nothing to do with Swift. (If you truly want a play-by-play and to see what other voices chimed in, we’ve got the receipts, right here.)

After a couple of days, Swift realized her error. “I thought I was being called out,” she tweeted. “I missed the point, I misunderstood, then misspoke. I’m sorry, Nicki.” In an interview on July 24, Minaj also explained in an interview on Good Morning America that Swift also called her to apologize. “It takes a big person to do what Taylor did,” she told GMA. “We spoke for a long time. We were cracking up laughing on the phone. It’s over, you guys.”

It may be over, but it was a rare moment in which Swift — whose brand projects a utopian vision of friendship and support among female celebrities — had a lapse in judgement.
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Photo: Matt Baron/BEI.
From: Rebel Wilson
To: The Kardashians and Jenners
For: Saying the Kardashians were talentless

In November, Rebel Wilson she made a comment about the Kardashians and Jenners that the family didn’t find very funny. In an interview with KissFM’s Kyle and Jackie O, Wilson said she declined an opportunity to pair up with Kendall and Kylie to honor an award-winner at the MTV Video Music Awards. “What they stand for is totally against what I stand for,” Wilson told the radio hosts. “They seem a bit superficial and their careers aren’t really based on talent. I know they’re super popular, but I’m all about personality and working hard to get where I am.”

She could have stopped there, but no. “I mean, how Kim Kardashian got famous from the sex tape, and I just went to acting school and worked really hard,” she added.

A week later, Wilson addressed her negative remarks. “I’d be very happy to debate the Kardashians anywhere/anytime/any topic,” she tweeted on November 11. She went on to say that the Kardashians’ publicist was running a “smear campaign” against her because of the interview. “In any event, I’m MORE than over this little thing and wish the K clan well X even sent them flowers.” We assume the note that came with the flowers was a little more heartfelt.
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Photo: Gregory Pace/BEI.
From: Emily Blunt
To: The People of America
For: Something you do every election year

In September, Blunt jokingly told The Hollywood Reporter that August’s Republican debate had her rethinking her decision to become an American citizen. Presto! Blunt’s comments became chum for the Fox & Friends anchors. Blunt used her subsequent Today show appearance to clear the air. “It was so not the intention to hurt anybody or cause offense, so I really apologize to those I caused offense,” she said. “It was just an offhand joke. I think I’ll probably leave the political jokes to late-night or something.”
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Photo: Jim Smeal/BEI.
From: Ariana Grande
To: The People of America
For: Licking donuts, hating on America

Grande made a public apology after a video surfaced in July in which she’s caught licking donuts at a California bakery. “I hate Americans. I hate America,” she said, unaware that security cameras were rolling. The video soon went viral and Grande went on an apology tour, telling Fox that she’s proud to be an American.

“What I said in a private moment with my friend, who was buying the donuts, was taken out of context and I am sorry for not using more discretion with my words,” she said. She knows what she said was a mistake, but then she tried to spin it a bit. She said she felt frustrated by “how freely we as Americans eat and consume things without giving any thought to the consequences that it has on our health.”

If that doesn’t really work for you, how about Ari’s second apology, in which she really drives home how proud she is to be American and feels bad that she let her feelings about the food industry get in the way of that. Just in case, she also apologized a third time.
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Photo: Picture Perfect/REX Shutterstock.
From: Kaley Cuoco
To: Feminists
For: Not being a feminist

When asked in a interview with Redbook in January if she considered herself a feminist, Cuoco responded, “It’s not really something I think about.” She said it’s because she’s “never really faced inequality.” The actress took to Instagram to respond to fans who felt disappointed by her attitude towards gender equality. "If any of you are in the 'biz' you are well aware of how words can be taken out of context,” she wrote.

“I'm completely blessed and grateful that strong women have paved the way for my success along with many others. I apologize if anyone was offended. Anyone that truly knows me, knows my heart and knows what I meant." Generally, apologies are more meaningful when they’re not also blaming the media for taking what she said out of context.
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Photo: REX Shutterstock.
From: Kanye
To: Beck and Taylor Swift
For: Being Kanye

Kanye’s always saying things that merit an eyeroll. Take, for example, his assertion in 2014 that he’s a “proud non-reader of books.” He isn’t on our list because his apology is surprising. It’s more that the nature of the apology is surprising. West rushed the stage at the Grammys in February when Beck won Album of the Year over Beyoncé. He said in an interview with E! that Beck “needs to respect artistry and he should have given his award to Beyoncé.” He ended up tweeting an apology. “I would like to publicly apologize to Beck,” he wrote. “I’m sorry, Beck.”

Then, in September, Kanye doled out another much-needed apology to Taylor Swift. He not only used his VMA acceptance speech to say sorry to Swift (and announce his intentions to run for president), he also followed up by sending the “Bad Blood” singer a ridiculous bouquet of flowers. We kind of couldn’t believe Yeezy was able to put aside his ego not once, but twice.
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Photo: Buckner/WWD/REX Shutterstock.
From: Kelly Osbourne
To: The general public
For: Her comments about the Latino community

In an August episode of The View, Osbourne was discussing Donald Trump’s racist remarks about Mexican immigrants. Then she said something just as awful. “If you kick every Latino out of this country, then who is going to be cleaning your toilets, Donald Trump?” she asked. Oof. It was especially surprising to see her in this situation, given the way she distanced herself from Giuliana Rancic and the Fashion Police after Rancic made an insensitive remark about Zendaya’s dreadlocks.

Two days later, Osbourne posted an apology to her Facebook page. "In this particular case I will take responsibility for my poor choice of words but I will not apologize for being racist as I am NOT,” she wrote. She also extended her regrets in an interview with Extra. "I'm okay with people calling me whatever they want to call me, however, I'm not okay that I hurt people's feelings,” she said. “It was my poor choice of words and it doesn't reflect my opinion at all, and I do not want to be pulled into this political nightmare."
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Photo: Matt Baron/BEI.
From: Ashley Benson
To: The general public
For: Dressing as a murdered lion

The Pretty Little Liars star fell into controversy after she posted an Instagram of her Halloween costume in September. This year, she considered going as Cecil, the lion who was killed by an American dentist earlier that month. After instant backlash, Benson posted an apology the following day. “Yesterday’s post was in poor taste and I absolutely regret all of the hurt that photo caused,” she put on Instagram. She said it was actually a mistake on her management’s part, whom she claims wrote the caption. She insisted she’s a lover of all animals and is donating money to the World Wildlife Fund. She also removed the photo.
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Photo: Gregory Pace/BEI.
From: Michael Bublé
To: The general public
For: Objectifying a stranger’s butt

Et tu, Bublé? We were shocked when the family friendly crooner posted a questionable Instagram in April. In the since removed picture, Bublé is standing, arms folded and smirking, near a woman wearing black spandex shorts. All we see is her butt — and apparently that’s all Bublé saw, too. “There was something about this photo l took, that seemed worthy of an Instagram,” he captioned the pic. Yikes.

He apologized in a statement to Us Weekly, explaining, “I do not court controversy, but I realize that a photo that was meant to be complimentary and lighthearted has turned into a questionable issue. It hurts me deeply that anyone would think I would disrespect women or be insulting to any human being,” he said. He added that women ought to be “celebrated, loved, respected, honored, and revered.”
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Photo: Matt Baron/BEI.
From: Michelle Rodriguez
To: The general public
For: A TMZ interview about minorities in Hollywood

When TMZ approached the actress in March, a cameraman asked her if the rumors about her playing Green Lantern were true. “That’s the dumbest thing I’ve ever heard,” she told him, laughing. “Because of this whole ‘minorities in Hollywood’’s so stupid. Stop stealing all the white people’s superheroes. Make up your own. You know what I’m saying?”

Shortly after the clip debuted, Rodriguez posted her own video to her Facebook page to clarify her remarks. "I stuck my foot in my mouth once again, and I said that people should stop trying to steal white people's superheroes. I guess it got taken out of context 'cause a lot of people got offended or whatever. I have a tendency to speak without a filter — sorry about that. What I really meant was that, ultimately, at the end of the day, there's a language, and the language that you speak in Hollywood is successful franchise. I think there are many cultures in Hollywood that are not white that can come up with their mythology. We all get it from the same reservoir of life — the fountain of life. It doesn't matter what culture you come from. I'm just saying that instead of trying to turn a girl character into a guy, or instead of trying to turn a white character into a black character or Latin character, I think that people should stop being lazy, and that people should actually make an effort in Hollywood to develop their own mythology...I'm just saying that the different cultures from around the world that are in Hollywood...they should start focusing on making that a serious priority."
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Rob Latour/REX Shutterstock.
From: Sia
To: The general public
For: Pedophilia complaints about her “Elastic Heart” video

Sia isn’t a traditional or safe artist by any means. When her “Elastic Heart” video dropped in February, featuring Maddie Ziegler and Shia LaBeouf, some complained it bordered on pedophilia. Sia took to Twitter to defend her work, but acknowledged that it may have been difficult for some to watch. She wrote that she anticipated some backlash. “All I can say is Maddie and Shia are two of the only actors I felt could play these two warring ‘sia’ self states,” she tweeted. “I apologize to those who feel triggered,” she added. “My intention was to create some emotional content, not to upset anybody.”
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Photo: REX Shutterstock.
From: Kylie Jenner
To: Jessica Alba
For: A Fashion Week kerfuffle

During an appearance on Watch What Happens Live in September, Alba told host Andy Cohen that Jenner’s bodyguards “body checked” her at Fashion Week. “I was just really shocked.”

This could have easily become one of those dreaded Twitter feuds. Instead, both parties handled the situation with class. Alba kept her cool about it, declining to prolong the fuss, and Jenner, after hearing about the incident, sent Alba a huge vase of flowers. Though we didn’t get an inside glimpse into the actual apology, it must have been a good one, because Alba posted a picture of the flowers on Instagram, captioning the picture, “Thank you @kyliejenner you are a sweetheart!! So thoughtful.”
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Photo: Nick Harvey/REX Shutterstock.
From: Jeremy Renner
To: The general public
For: Being sexist

During his press tour in April for Avengers: Age of Ultron, Renner made some questionable remarks about Black Widow (played by Scarlett Johanssen). He and fellow actor Chris Evans called the character a “slut” and “complete whore.” While Evans made a formal apology about his “juvenile and offensive” comments, Renner did not. “It was a joke. Off-colored. Whatever,” he told Conan O’Brien. “I’m unapologetic about a lot of things, but I got into a lot of internet trouble. Because that’s a thing now, you can get in,” he added.
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Photo: REX Shutterstock.
From: Matt Damon
To: The general public
For: Comments about minorities and gay people

Boston’s golden boy goofed up twice in one month. First, during the September 13 episode of Project Greenlight, Damon interrupted filmmaker Effie Brown and lectured her on what diversity is. The internet took to calling it “Damonsplaining.” After some backlash, Damon issued a statement via his publicist in which he said he believes filmmaking needs more diversity and that his “comments were part of a much broader conversation about diversity in Hollywood.”

He said he was “sorry that they offended some people, but at the very least, I am happy that they started a conversation about diversity in Hollywood.”

Then, a few days later, Damon stepped in it again with some comments printed in The Guardian. “I think it must be really hard for actors to be out publicly,” he told the paper. “But in terms of actors, I think you’re a better actor the less people know about you period. And sexuality is a huge part of that. Whether you’re straight or gay, people shouldn’t know anything about your sexuality because that’s one of the mysteries that you should be able to play." He later cleared up those remarks during an appearance on Ellen. “I was just trying to say actors are more effective when they’re a mystery,” he explained. “It’s painful when things get said that you don’t believe.” With DeGeneres' help, he was able to clarify what he meant, though didn’t really apologize in full.