A Tale of Two Apologies

Graphic: Jezebel, Photo: Backgrid

There are many tools with which you can teach children about basic moral principles: the Bible, fairytales, Spongebob Squarepants, playground drama. But can I recommend a new story? If any of you have young children, I strongly suggest teaching them the parable of Felicity Huffman and Aunt Becky. It’s a classic moral dilemma: Two famous women, exposed for committing crimes of fraud, with wildly different outcomes.

After serving only 11 days of her extremely long 14 day sentence, Felicity Huffman must now complete 250 hours of community service during her year-long probation. If she were to treat it like a job, averaging about eight hours a day, she could expect to have it done in two months or less. She’s shot movies with longer filming schedules than that!

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And despite the embarrassing nature of her crime—falsifying SAT scores so her kids could cut somewhere in the middle of the college admissions line—Huffman’s public image has remained mostly undamaged. Sure, an entire country watched as a judge handed down her meager prison sentence, and she was photographed in a rather ugly jumpsuit as a result. But everyone has moved on! (And so has Huffman.)

The actor was seen carrying Tupperware laden with homemade cupcakes outside The Teen Project on Sunday, an organization dedicated to “serving at risk homeless and sex trafficked young women” in Los Angeles. In photographs, she’s seen smiling as she pulls cupcakes from her Kia—a modest car for any celebrity—and appears generally unbothered by photographers. In comparison to Lori Loughlin, who’s grown her collection of crime hats to hide behind since first being indicted, Huffman seems to be doing just fine. And that’s because she fucking apologized!

Felicity Huffman doesn’t owe anyone anything. Nobody does! But her apology, which many saw as earnest, worked beautifully in rehabiliating her image.

“I am pleading guilty to the charge brought against me by the United States Attorney’s Office. I am in full acceptance of my guilt, and with deep regret and shame over what I have done, I accept full responsibility for my actions and will accept the consequences that stem from those actions. I am ashamed of the pain I have caused my daughter, my family, my friends, my colleagues and the educational community. I want to apologize to them and, especially, I want to apologize to the students who work hard every day to get into college, and to their parents who make tremendous sacrifices to support their children and do so honestly. My daughter knew absolutely nothing about my actions, and in my misguided and profoundly wrong way, I have betrayed her. This transgression toward her and the public I will carry for the rest of my life. My desire to help my daughter is no excuse to break the law or engage in dishonesty.”

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Lori Loughlin, meanwhile, hasn’t said a single word since being indicted earlier this year. She has rushed past photographers, hidden behind crime hats, shut down her social media, and refused to comment on the various allegations leveled against her, her husband, or her two daughters. (Did they know? We might never know!) This contrition and absolute refusal to even engage the public has soured Loughlin’s career—possibly forever.

She made her living on Full House, a show predicated on wholesome family values, which continued with its reboot Fuller House. She also starred in Hallmark’s series When Calls the Heart, arguably about how life was simpler and people were more moralistic in the “old days.” And this isn’t to necessarily criticize its creators, who have also talked at length about their motivations in creating the show. Executive producer Brian Bird previously told the Christian Post:

“I don’t necessarily believe that film or TV is good evangelism, so I’m not a TV evangelist. But what I do believe is that good stories full of hope, faith and love, and redemption, forgiveness, resurrection, sacrifice, courage and all the great virtues you can find in almost every faith — they are obviously the core of Christianity as well — I believe that good storytelling, which includes those things, stirs up soul cravings.”

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Knowing Hallmark (and Fuller House’s) target demo—white, Christian, conservative Americans—it’s mind-boggling that Loughlin wouldn’t at least offer some semblance of an apology. From her refusal to even engage the public over the scandal, it’s clear she cares deeply about the perception of her alleged crime. But what happens when this is all over? Even if she gets off with nothing but a community service sentence and some probation, that audience won’t easily forget her unwillingness to talk about literally anything.

Anyways, this isn’t to discount how fucking rich Lori Loughlin is. Even if she never apologizes, and instead builds herself a biosphere high in the Hollywood Hills, with a self-sustaining ecosystem and no reason to ever go outside, she could live off the money she and husband Mossimo Giannulli (of the Target Mossimos) have made for some time. Not to mention the residuals she gets from Full House, which maybe amount to about $2,000 a check. That’s $2,000 more dollars than I (or just about anyone) has! She should also read a history book or two: locking yourself in your high castle while refusing to apologize to the poor and disenfranchised outside is something that used to get people guillotined.

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