Jonah Hill openly addressed and apologized for the homophobic remarks he was caught on camera hurling at a photographer this week.
In a TMZ video, Hill was filmed saying "suck my dick, you faggot," to a photographer following him around in Los Angeles. On Wednesday, Hill (who is promoting the film 22 Jump Street) appeared on The Tonight Show to issue an apology for the comments:
This weekend I was out with some friends. There was a paparazzi guy and he was antagonizing me and calling me names, attacking me personally, my family personally. I was genuinely hurt by this and made angry by this. In response, I wanted to hurt him back and I said the most hurtful word I could think of at that moment. I didn't mean this in the sense of the word. I didn't mean it in a homophobic way. I think that....that doesn't matter, you know? How you mean things doesn't matter. Words have weight in meaning. The word I chose was grotesque. No one deserves to say or hear words like that. I've been supportive to the LGBTQ community my entire life and I completely let the members of that community and everybody else down when I used a word like that this weekend. My heart's broken. I'm genuinely deeply sorry to anyone who has ever been affected by that term in their life. I'm sorry and I don't deserve or expect your forgiveness. But what I ask if that you're at home, if you're watching this and you're a young person especially. If someone says something that hurts you or angers you, use me an example of what not to do. And don't respond with hatred or anger, because you're just adding more ugliness to the world. Again. I'm so sorry.
"I deserve the shit I'm going to get for it," he said.
This is the second time he's apologized and discussed the incident; earlier this week he told Howard Stern's audience "It would break my heart for anyone to think...that I would be against anyone for their sexuality."
There's a lot of things to consider here. This isn't just Hugh Grant shrugging his shoulders and sheepishly saying "sorry" to Jay Leno for getting caught with a prostitute. This is an actor addressing a repulsive, homophobic incident that has ramifications outside of his own career. Whether we like it or not (and I know many of us don't), celebrities are role models to young (and old) people. What they say and do has influence on people who look up to them, because as my mother puts it "everybody thinks they are cool." Hill is an extremely popular, bankable actor who might have just put his entire career in jeopardy. He's also promoting a multimillion dollar film that could theoretically be damaged if the public perceives him as a homophobic asshole. Could this just be a brilliant monologue written by a public relations executive at a movie studio and delivered by a talented actor? I'm sure there are many who will think so.
But he seems incredibly sincere here and appears visibly choked up throughout the statement. This speech (and I urge you to listen to it, not just read the words I've transcribed here) is a rather powerful example of how to make an apology. If we are willing to hold him accountable over his grotesque remarks because he's a role model, then we should also be able to recognize the impact a sincere apology from someone like him can have. He's right—people should look at him as an example of exactly what not to do when in a similar situation.