Late last week during NBC's New Year's Eve with Carson Daly broadcast, comedian and co-host Natasha Leggero made an off-the-cuff joke about a SpaghettiO's tweet that drew criticism for attempting to profit from the Pearl Harbor attack of 1941. "It sucks that the only survivors of Pearl Harbor are being mocked by the only food they can still chew," Leggero remarked, sending her co-hosts into fits of laughter.
Well, it looks like people (probably not World War II vets — just average, easily upset, idiot people) are now playing an exciting game of Pass the Outrage and have happened to land on Natasha Leggero as many are now demanding that she apologize for making a joke that was insensitive to veterans.
And — in a refreshing twist — she is refusing to give one.
The comedian posted the following to her website:
On New Years Eve I made what I thought was a harmless joke http://dailym.ai/1crNs71
Here is my response:
Well hello America!
It's been a busy few days but rest assured, I have received all of your messages and have been busy sifting through the different creatively misspelled death threats, rape fantasies and most of all repeated use of the the C word. In the past few days I have been called a cunt so much I felt like I was in a British pub rooting for the wrong soccer team. Click here to see some of my faves!
I wish I could apologize, but do you really want another insincere apology that you know is just an attempt at damage control and not a real admission of guilt? Let me just try instead to be honest.
I'm not sorry. I don't think the amazing courage of American veterans and specifically those who survived Pearl Harbor is in any way diminished by a comedian making a joke about dentures on television. Do we really believe that the people who fought and defended our freedom against Nazis and the Axis powers will find a joke about Spaghetti O's too much to bear? Sorry, I have more respect for Veterans than to think their honor can be impugned by a glamorous, charming comedian in a fur hat.
That's not to say I don't think comedians are a problem in this country, they are a financial drain on the people who date them and talk far too much about themselves. I'm thrilled to see how passionate (death threats against a five foot tall woman are always the height of passion!) people are about our country and our Veterans. I am too. My own father lost his hearing in the Vietnam War so the issue is pretty close to me too. So rather than apologize, let me offer another perspective.
On the one hand you have me, making a joke about how old people can't chew tough foods very well.
On the other hand you have Veterans who receive inadequate care upon their return from active duty, rampant sexual assault against female soldiers, staggering rates of suicide, traumatic brain injury, PTSD, substance abuse and depression among soldiers and political gridlock that prevents these problems from getting solved quickly.
Where do you think your outrage and action would be better served, calling me a cunt or doing something about the above problems?
For those of you that are currently doing both: Kudos!
To our vets: I love you. I truly hope you know that.
To Spaghetti O's: Let's do lunch.
To the Elderly: Chew!
To @nealrscott: It's spelled Human Excrement not Increatment.
To those looking for an active way to address the above problems, do what I've decided to do instead of apologize: Make a donation to the Disabled American Veterans foundation. (link http://www.dav.org)
Whether or not you found Leggero's comments insensitive is sort of beyond the point. I mean, if you did, by all means be offended, take to Twitter and call her a cunt all damn day if that somehow makes you feel better. Or don't! You can probably get mad and NOT call her a cunt or threaten her with death or rape and that's okay (preferable, actually), too.
What's exciting about this, however, is that Leggero made a joke, a bunch of people got fake mad about it, they demanded she apologize and she said NO because she didn't actually feel sorry. OH, MY GOD, YOU GUYS! It turns out you are allowed not to apologize for things that you don't regret doing. This is a GAME CHANGER.
Currently, it seems like we're living in the age of the forced public apology. Over the weekend, Melissa Harris Perry was pressured into apologizing for comments that she didn't even make. Shia LaBeouf recently hired a sky-writer to apologize for plagiarizing (or to apologize for plagiarizing his apology for plagiarizing? I don't know — I got lost in this story three accusations of plagiarism ago), Martin Bashir was forced to apologize for his comments against Sarah Palin and he STILL got fired from MSNBC.
While some of these apologies seemed truly sincere (like Harris-Perry's) and others less so (dig it, oh oh oh, Shia), they mostly all came after a small public backlash was amplified by the media, meaning that most of them were for the benefit of the same type of overly sensitive dumb-dumb who has nothing better to do with their New Year's than tune in to New Year's Eve with Carson Daly.
I'm not saying that people shouldn't apologize when they think they're wrong or have made a mistake. Harris-Perry clearly felt horrible that she could have somehow represented herself as anti-transracial adoption after guests on her show made jokes about Mitt Romney's adopted African American grandson and her apology this past Sunday felt very real and heartfelt. What I AM saying is that people should only apologize when they're really sorry. Otherwise, it's cheap, misleading and self-serving.
I don't want to hear an apology from Duck Dynasty's Phil Robertson for spewing homophobia and racism. He's been spewing homophobia and racism for years and clearly doesn't feel bad about it. I don't want Alec Baldwin to apologize for constantly throwing around slurs like "faggot," for Sarah Palin to apologize for the outpour of nonsense, faux-patriotic garbage that continually spills from her mouth or for Daniel Tosh to apologize for making rape jokes. In fact, I want them to keep saying these horrible things because it helps me learn something about them as people (that they're dicks) and decide how I genuinely feel about them.
In the case of Natasha Leggero, her refusal to apologize does not mean that she's ageist or hates veterans. It means that she's standing behind her joke, which, again, you are totally allowed to judge her on. Maybe you think that she SHOULD be apologetic for it, which, okay, well, I'm sorry (I'm not really sorry), but she isn't. Now you get to decide how you want to respond to her work in the future and that is all that matters.
TL,DR? Only apologize when you're actually sorry. Otherwise apologies become completely meaningless and then how will I get my mom to stop being mad with me when I come home for the holidays and forget to unload the dishwasher.