"...it is a masterclass in How to Apologize"
January 11, 2018 12:30 PM   Subscribe

Dan Harmon Admits to Sexually Harrassing Writer, Apologizes. “I crushed on her and resented her for not reciprocating it, and the entire time I was the one writing her paychecks.” Full text here. Megan Ganz response starts here.
posted by leotrotsky (75 comments total) 46 users marked this as a favorite
 
I know that this could probably go in an existing thread, but I feel like this one is significant enough to merit its own post. Not because it's Dan Harmon, but because of his reaction.

A lot of people have been saying that there needs to be some kind of middle ground between acceptance and complete condemnation. For recognizing human flaws and failures without condoning them and creating a space for moving forward. This is the best example I've seen of that so far.
posted by leotrotsky at 12:32 PM on January 11 [25 favorites]


Are we exiting the darkest timeline?
posted by roger ackroyd at 12:39 PM on January 11 [10 favorites]


...the trick is, if you lie to yourself, you can lie to everybody. It’s really easy... The last and most important thing I can say is just: Think about it. No matter who you are at work, no matter where you’re working, no matter what field you’re in, no matter what position you have over or under or side by side with somebody, just think about it. You gotta, because if you don’t think about it, you’re gonna get away with not thinking about it, and you can cause a lot of damage that is technically legal and hurts everybody.
posted by infinitewindow at 12:40 PM on January 11 [35 favorites]


I really like that he zeroes in on what I have noticed seems to be a core issue, which is that dudes are never asked to think twice about anything they do, say, or think. They blithely trip through life just saying and doing the most toxic, hurtful shit and then when they get called on it, they're genuinely confused. "Why are other people questioning this stuff? I don't understand because this stuff (my behavior) for me isn't in the bucket of things that should be questioned." And this doesn't just go for sexual assault and harassment. It effects E V E R Y T H I N G. And it's coming to light now because the other half of the population expects to be treated equally and has been promised equal treatment, but everything WE do is questioned and nitpicked to death. This system of half the population doing all the work and getting all the scrutiny and the other half tripping along and reaping all the rewards isn't sustainable.
posted by bleep at 12:50 PM on January 11 [108 favorites]


I'm fine with this being a low bar and also having someone finally clear it. That's what's been so amazing to me is how many artists and performers who i thought were smart, creative, feminist leaning, and eloquent when discussing faults suddenly can't work out more than "I'm sorry she is hurt, I remember it differently, it's on all of us to grow." I know it's usually PR people and lawyers and studios and vetting and harm reduction for the abuser, but I am still disappointed.

I asked my first abuser for this once - in private, because we're not famous - I even gave him the roadmap of what to say. He cut off all contact and his husband threatened to kill me. And that's the last time I talked to my brother. Even if it's not enough for society at large or whatever, I'm glad Megan Ganz got something from her abuser that helps her feel more at peace.
posted by I'm Not Even Supposed To Be Here Today! at 12:50 PM on January 11 [57 favorites]


I think someone with a platform is obligated to explain how they fucked up and specifically what other people can do to avoid fucking up, in a way that's actionable, specific, and accurate.
posted by bleep at 12:54 PM on January 11 [9 favorites]


You can think what you want about the apology, the important part for me is that Megan Ganz has accepted his apology. She's the important part in this, not Dan Harmon, not you and me.
posted by Pendragon at 12:54 PM on January 11 [90 favorites]


[A few comments removed. This shit's complicated enough as it is, we don't need to immediately wrangle off into the weeds.]
posted by cortex (staff) at 12:56 PM on January 11


I really like that he zeroes in on what I have noticed seems to be a core issue, which is that dudes are never asked to think twice about anything they do, say, or think. They blithely trip through life just saying and doing the most toxic, hurtful shit and then when they get called on it, they're genuinely confused. "Why are other people questioning this stuff? I don't understand because this stuff for me isn't in the bucket of things that should be questioned."

While the knapsack is invisible on purpose, but that doesn't mean we're all aware that it's there. Particularly white dudes. Particularly particularly white dudes who considered themselves 'outsiders' (freaks, geeks, etc) growing up and so saw themselves constantly as victims of oppression, never as perpetrators.

Speaking as one.
posted by leotrotsky at 12:57 PM on January 11 [27 favorites]


There is no excuse for never in your life seeing fit to interrogate your own behavior.
posted by bleep at 12:59 PM on January 11 [2 favorites]


There is no excuse for never in your life seeing fit to interrogate your own behavior.

No, but explanations aren't excuses.
posted by showbiz_liz at 1:03 PM on January 11 [35 favorites]


I knew that I wasn’t doing anybody any favors by feeling these things, and so I did the cowardly, easiest, laziest thing you could do with feelings like that, and I didn’t deal with them. And in not dealing with them, I made everybody else deal with them. Especially her.
is a nice bit of self-awareness, and one I wish more people had.
posted by Flannery Culp at 1:03 PM on January 11 [16 favorites]


There is no excuse for never in your life seeing fit to interrogate your own behavior.

Not excusing. Describing the conditions that give rise to it. Privilege makes being oblivious much easier. Then, when your behavior is suddenly questioned, seemly for the first time, it creates a lot of hostility. Look at the blinkered reactions from many actors in Hollywood who clearly consider themselves "good guys," like Matt Damon. It's similar to how "When You're Accustomed to Privilege, Equality Feels Like Oppression."
posted by leotrotsky at 1:04 PM on January 11 [27 favorites]


And at least Dan took a good long hard look at himself and managed to not fuck this up.

Well, Dan Harmon is no stranger to taking long hard looks at himself.

(I'm saying that as a fan.)
posted by paper chromatographologist at 1:07 PM on January 11 [3 favorites]


It's not hard to crush on Megan given her rather obvious talent and she pulls off cute and nerdy.

Let's maybe not do that?

And at least Dan took a good long hard look at himself and managed to not fuck this up.

But he did fuck this up. He already fucked this up. I think we need to recognize that. This is not a win for Dan Harmon. It's not even a tie. It moves him from "really shitty" to "less shitty." I mean, that's good, but he's still in negative territory.
posted by leotrotsky at 1:09 PM on January 11 [79 favorites]


I think Dan's little monologue here is a good example of the difference between excusing and explaining. Saying "I was sheltered, blinkered, and privileged" and "I was excluded and felt like I was a victim" is not an explanation. There are lots of people who are brought up privileged and sheltered, or excluded and stigmatized, and still figure out how to give a shit about the people around them. I just really need more people to start giving a shit and I'm excited that at least one person has publicly acknowledged that.
posted by bleep at 1:12 PM on January 11 [4 favorites]


Did Dan Harmon Actually Give a good Apology for Sexual Harassment? by Jaya Saxena at GQ.
Many are responding to Ganz, praising her and Harmon for handling their situation like "adults," as if those reacting to their past traumas in different ways are acting like children. Women are not required to take the high road when things like this are done to them. Women don't need to forgive just because an apology is offered. That Ganz found it in her to forgive is wonderful, but equally important is Harmon’s recognition of wrongdoing, which he acknowledges he'd never have to do unless his victim put herself in the precarious position of publicly calling him out in the first place. It shouldn't take a woman's naming her pain to force a man's hand in an apology, but until men preemptively think about the kind of pain they can cause, this is as good an ending as we're going to get.
posted by purpleclover at 1:14 PM on January 11 [43 favorites]


[A few more removed, literally nobody needs to know whether anybody else has crush on the person being apologized to for sexual harassment.]
posted by cortex (staff) at 1:20 PM on January 11 [84 favorites]


Ok, now he's said what is a good apology. What is he doing NEXT? Words are easy.
posted by jeather at 1:23 PM on January 11 [6 favorites]


on a peripheral note, it is distressing and illuminating how aware he is of the kind of fanbase his shows have tended to keep that he has to bookend something like this by begging his listeners not to re-victimize her

his point about the way you act this horrifically and live with yourself -- by being just self-aware to know which doors in your mind to keep closed to yourself -- nails, I think, what a refusal to examine privilege looks like. even if you understand it intellectually (perhaps even moreso if you do!) it's so fucking easy to refuse to engage with yourself honestly as long as it profits you not to do so.

I'm ambivalent about propping this up as a "masterclass" in anything except as a response to this individual situation that touched Ganz in a personal enough way for her to offer forgiveness in this particular context. yeah, it clears the bar set by recent examples (I'm still struggling with my own privilege in my initially sympathetic reading of Louis CK's statement), but (in and of itself) it's not reparations, it's not moving from word to action, it was still offered in reaction instead of proactively.
posted by Kybard at 1:24 PM on January 11 [19 favorites]



on a peripheral note, it is distressing and illuminating how aware he is of the kind of fanbase his shows have tended to keep that he has to bookend something like this by begging his listeners not to re-victimize her


Rick and Morty fans literally rioted over not being able to get special edition sauce from McDonald’s. How could he not be aware?
posted by His thoughts were red thoughts at 1:26 PM on January 11 [27 favorites]


I LOVE that he spoke to his fanbase. MANY MANY abusers have these fanbases and they know it and they act like their non-denial denials aren't going to further harm their victims. More famous people in general need to speak clearly to their fans about bullying behavior done in their names.
posted by I'm Not Even Supposed To Be Here Today! at 1:27 PM on January 11 [24 favorites]


the important part for me is that Megan Ganz has accepted his apology

I mean. It's not like she has much of a choice once he makes it public. Like a surprise marriage proposal on some stadium KissCam. She'd be dragged to hell and back for the rest of her life while he'd be beatified if she failed to acknowledge the apology, much less gracefully accept it.

No one is ever required to accept an apology from an abuser. The fact that it's being touted as "acting like mature adults" to do so is shitty and damaging and creates (even more) unfair expectations of abuse victims.
posted by poffin boffin at 1:27 PM on January 11 [98 favorites]


Rick and Morty fans literally rioted over not being able to get especially edition sauce from McDonald’s. How could he not be aware?

oh, totally -- there was a reason I didn't say "surprised"

I like R&M and Community so it's just a sad reminder that I need to basically constantly interrogate why I like those things and make sure it's not because I'm a shithead
posted by Kybard at 1:29 PM on January 11 [12 favorites]


Things like this apology leave me in a very unsettled place because it's great that he made a good apology (and I'm glad if Ms. Ganz feels that it's adequate but I also think saying "it's good that she's accepted it", even if you mean "it's good that it's acceptable to her", feels to me like saying "it's her responsibility to accept an apology once it's been made") but I also don't really feel like saying "good for him"? Like, I never want to say "good for him" and I think it's okay if no one says "good for him" again for, at the very least, a long long time. Of course a good, real, thoughtful apology is better than a bad one but I just find myself in this weird, uncomfortable place thinking about this because I am NOT glad he did this because it's only happening because he harassed someone but I guess I'm more glad than if he didn't? And then I'm pissed that I (and Ms. Ganz, and other women) need to agonize about this and process our feelings about it when we didn't do anything wrong. I'd like to think "great, he apologized, it's over, let's move on, happily ever after" but it's not happily ever after and it's very hard to find exactly how I feel about it.
posted by Mrs. Pterodactyl at 1:30 PM on January 11 [50 favorites]


Forced forgiveness is so damaging. I don't believe her forgiveness sounds forced and I am willing to take her at her word. I also don't see anything from her saying everyone should forgive their abusers. Other people saying shit about "mature adults" can fuck off. I just think she has a right to her own reaction, to publicize that reaction, and that to be ok and not used as a weapon against her or other survivors. I realize it will be used as a weapon, but she shouldn't be critiqued for that.
posted by I'm Not Even Supposed To Be Here Today! at 1:31 PM on January 11 [9 favorites]


It’s OK to be glad that his apology validated her feelings & experiences & that that was something that mattered to her I think. Her twitter is pretty explicit about it & it really doesn't read like forced forgiveness (which is totally a thing & definitely not acceptable) to me.
posted by pharm at 1:34 PM on January 11 [2 favorites]


[runt, I'm not gonna keep playing whack-a-mole with this refusing-to-be-moderated thing. Take a day off and cut this out in the future because it's far from the first time you've jumped hard into a "you're all MetaFiltering wrong" mode in a conversation and it actively makes threads worse despite your otherwise pretty understandable motivations.]
posted by cortex (staff) at 1:38 PM on January 11 [16 favorites]


This post from Mariame Kaba on how to apologize for causing harm showed up on my SURJ facebook feed, and I was waiting to see if apologies start to use the format. Food for thought, anyway.
"I caused harm. I'm sorry. [Acknowledge that you've harmed people, say you are sorry - YOU DO NOT NEED TO WRITE A DISSERTATION LISTING EVERY THING YOU'VE DONE FOR PUBLIC CONSUMPTION. IT IS NOT THE WORLD'S BUSINESS.]
I've apologized to the person(s) I've harmed. [ALWAYS TRY TO APOLOGIZE DIRECTLY TO THE HARMED PARTIES FIRST. MORE OFTEN THAN NOT, THE PERSON YOU HARMED WON'T EVEN ASK YOU FOR A PUBLIC STATEMENT.]
I am educating myself so I never do the same thing to anyone else [DEMONSTRATE THAT YOU ARE TAKING ACCOUNTABILITY & CONCRETE ACTION TO CHANGE].
I'm working on myself to gain understanding of my actions and to ensure I don't repeat the harm [PEOPLE WHO WE HURT OFTEN WANT US TO DO OUR BEST NOT TO REPEAT THE SAME HARM AGAIN].
I will devote/commit myself to trying to repair the harm I caused."

If your public acknowledgement of harm is more than 8 sentences, cut it down. Also, please remember that you are doing this to take accountability for what you've done and not because you expect to be patted on the back. Finally, KEEP IT MOVING (stay off social media) and Do the difficult work needed to begin a transformation of the harm.
posted by Hermeowne Grangepurr at 1:39 PM on January 11 [39 favorites]


It’s OK to be glad that his apology validated her feelings & experiences & that that was something that mattered to her I think.

Yes, but she is entirely entitled to get all those things from his apology and still tell him to go fuck himself. That's the problem with congratulating her for expressing forgiveness. If the common narrative were expressing that truth, then that would be fine, but it doesn't seem to me that, typically, "I'm glad she forgave him" does mean that.
posted by howfar at 1:41 PM on January 11 [8 favorites]


And to be clear, I come from a space of not only forced forgiveness but also forced repentance for being molested as a small child for years. I am certainly not in the "accepting an apology is the right thing to do" camp. I have forgiven none of my abusers and can't see a case where I would at this point. I am still happy if she has gotten some sort of peace or closure out of this.
posted by I'm Not Even Supposed To Be Here Today! at 1:45 PM on January 11 [14 favorites]


I'm fine with this being a low bar and also having someone finally clear it.

I'd say I feel more relieved than fine. I'm relieved that I don't have to be angry at Dan Harmon for defending his actions. I'm relieved to have an example of a sexual harasser who corroborates some of what victims have been saying all along.

But I'm not fine with this apology because I'm not fine with the low bar. I'm not fine with the implication that by clearing the low bar, Harmon is entitled to forgiveness and that Ganz giving that forgiveness is what it takes to be an "adult." I'm also not fine with "we have to start somewhere" being used as an excuse to say "what the fuck else do you want."

What is he doing NEXT? Words are easy.
it's not reparations, it's not moving from word to action, it was still offered in reaction instead of proactively

Yes, this.

Harmon did what Ganz needed him to - he vindicated her. While I agree she was under a lot of pressure to forgive him, I'll believe that she was sincere; she's a writer and could have written a much more tepid forgiveness if she wanted.

I want more from men. I don't want their apologies for treating women as a different, lesser class of human; I want them to treat women as equals. I don't want their apologies to be offered only after an accusation; I want them to grow without being forced to by the court of public opinion, especially when this is such a huge topic of conversation that they really have no excuse for being unaware. I don't want an apology that ends with just a personal epiphany; I want an apology that ends with a meaningful action.

Saying this in no way invalidates Ganz's reaction. But, since this was a public apology Ganz is not the only one that is going to be affected, and there is room for other reactions.
posted by Kutsuwamushi at 1:51 PM on January 11 [35 favorites]


I can't speak for anyone else, but I know I've been a fan of Ganz for about as long as I've been a fan of Harmon's (hoping that she'd be named Showrunner when Harmon was fired from Community, trusting that the show would survive with her still in the room, touting her writing on Remedial Chaos Theory, blah blah blah( and if this were going to be a public feud, as much as I've liked Harmon, I'd be on Ganz's side all the way. I already quit Rick and Morty after Justin Roiland's anti-union shit.

So it's not important to me that she accepted his apology. It's that, in her words, she found it sufficient. It gave her the relief she needed (and which Harmon had made her need originally, of course.)

We're seeing so many people (or at least I know I am) taking the stance against #MeToo these last few weeks, with bullshit equivocating arguments like that it makes women out as made of candyglass or criminalizes flirting or fails to distinguish between "real" harassment (generally framed as Weinstein) and frivolous career-ending nonsense (always framed as Franken) and that Catherine DeNeuve letter, and that fucking NYTimes article, and and and...

Here are two people who are really good with words and self-reflection, using those for good in what could have been another awful, ass-covering incident of accusers being diminished, lines being drawn victims being further victimized, etc. Harmon doesn't just own up to acting inappropriately - he walks us through it all and how it caused Ganz harm in ways nobody was necessarily accusing him of. How it caused harm to his ex-girlfriend and others around him. How it caused harm to himself, which yeah, matters least of all here but still goes unacknowledged in these discussions. He nurtured an unhealthy obsession and dragged not just himself but those in his considerable orbit down into that unhealthiness.

I think the key to me here is when he talks about how she was asking him to stop it already because it was impeding her ability to know if she was good at her job. These are two people who had not just an employee-employer relationship but a mentor-mentee one as well. I have no doubt that if you'd asked Harmon at any point during all of this what it was that attracted him to much to Ganz, he'd say "her talent," but when you're in her position, and can't trust that from your boss, can't tell if your coworkers respect you, resent you, or think they need to play you politically, don't know if you're developing your craft, and don't know if this is the one shot you'll have and have to rely on some boss's crush for where that next job is coming from - that's terrifying.

I'm just rambling now, but I'm just devastated that this happened (seriously, I had a lot invested in the working relationship between those two - more than I'd realized - and I'm sickened that it was so toxic and traumatic to her) and happy - genuinely happy - that it could end somewhat well, hopefully with lessons for people in the future.
posted by Navelgazer at 1:51 PM on January 11 [20 favorites]


(The "fine" wording was repeating wording from now deleted comments)
posted by I'm Not Even Supposed To Be Here Today! at 1:54 PM on January 11


[Dan's apology in the podcast starts at about 18:40, but he really starts at about 20:00 for anyone looking to skip some preamble]
posted by matrixclown at 1:55 PM on January 11 [1 favorite]


> Are we exiting the darkest timeline?

The only way to exit the darkest timeline is to brighten it yourself. But as much as this feels like a general step in the right direction, the hindsight will always be "how's about you don't darken the timeline in the first place?" Presently, the best-case scenario is moving the needle from "darkest timeline" to "gas leak years".


It's already been said and implied, but this apology can only serve so many purposes, no matter how good it is. For the purposes it does serve—most importantly, Megan Ganz's personal feelings of vindication, relief, and/or forgiveness—my read is that it's not really anyone's place to judge how well it fulfills those beyond what Megan is willing to convey.

But especially for how public this is, people are going to read into it however they'd like, because it's simultaneously between just two people and an audience of millions who see and are affected by similar behavior or worse. And it's hard to separate the example-setting (i.e., raising an incredibly low bar) from any other potential advocacy resulting in what action Dan Harmon takes next and how he lives the rest of his life while also acknowledging that we're really starting from Square -X and trying to move back to Square One.

TL;DR: "Ambivalent" is definitely the Word of the Day for me.
posted by Johann Georg Faust at 2:09 PM on January 11 [3 favorites]


I'm not going to argue that Rick & Morty doesn't have noxious fans, because it does, but let's be clear that ALL fandoms need to be called off in situations like this. The internet has created thousands of tribes filled with rabid vitriol for any naysayers.
posted by graventy at 2:29 PM on January 11 [16 favorites]


What matters here is not how much this does or doesn't affect how the scales of justice should be weighted for Harmon.

What matters is he's laying out the things he did wrong in a way that might help other people who don't yet see it recognize how and why those things are wrong. He's describing what he could have done differently--and that others guys still can do differently--to avoid becoming the kind of guy that hurts women this way.
posted by straight at 2:49 PM on January 11 [11 favorites]


While the knapsack is invisible on purpose

In case anyone else is unfamiliar with the knapsack concept.
posted by Coventry at 2:53 PM on January 11 [8 favorites]


Also, like, yeah it's nice that Harmon asked his fans to lay off of her, but that also points out to me how brave she was in calling him out. I think that they've both acted with more class than we're used to since she did so, but that was a risk and she should be acknowledged for taking it.
posted by Navelgazer at 2:58 PM on January 11 [6 favorites]


"Annie's pretty young. We try not to sexualize her."
posted by elsietheeel at 2:59 PM on January 11


What is he doing NEXT? Words are easy.

He's uniquely positioned to be a positive role model working towards deprogramming some of the army of misanthropic shits that hang off of his every word, and I hope he gives that a shot if he's really looking for actions that can help. I've kinda felt that he's a steady paycheck away from becoming just like his worst fans after seeing the Harmontown documentary and some of his other behavior, but if he's really set on taking a different trajectory with the lessons learned, I think he needs to use his particular soapbox to try and bring some of those asshole fans into the light.
posted by jason_steakums at 3:57 PM on January 11 [6 favorites]


What I like about Harmon's apology is that it gives real context to what was going on. Women, apparently being socialized at a much higher plane than men, are constantly being gaslighted about their experiences. People just don't believe them. And for a boss to have an angry boner at you means that you are in a totally precarious position that feels actually totally insane. What is a boss to do if not critique the work? How can you know if the criticism is real if it comes just after a failed proposition or praise comes just before? And who can you turn to and say, "Is this happening?" and not get equivocation? We do want to assume the best in others and we don't want to rock the hierarchical boat. So for him to say, in essence (and in so many words): I behaved poorly because I was angry and I didn't see her as someone with value equal to my own. God, it's so helpful. And it vindicates her and it shows everyone that she worked with so that they can see for real and believe (because we believe men) that her treatment was unfair and fucking weird.
posted by amanda at 3:58 PM on January 11 [32 favorites]


I think one reason there are people jumping on this as an unequivocal Good Thing is because the bar is so low. The bar is so, so low. I mean, this article describes a real circumstance that happened: I Made the Pizza Cinnamon Rolls from Mario Batali's Sexual Misconduct Apology Letter. (Amazing article, by the way, about a lot more than rolls.)

But, honestly? If we look at Harmon's conduct by itself, as opposed to in comparison with other harassers and assaulters, it's not great. What IS he going to do next in reparation? In prevention? Because he demonstrably did so much better than the other men around, does that mean he's not going to lose work over this? Not going to lose respect? Has he actually managed to get out of any long-lasting consequences for this other than the ones inside his head?

I feel that a good position vis-a-vis Harmon right now is somewhere along the lines of 'You may be redeemable, with time'. And then don't give him cookies, observe his behavior skeptically, don't extend him trust, wait and see what he does and whether he is capable of earning public trust back.

Because honestly, it looks more as though he could earn trust back than it does for most of these assholes, but again, that is not a high bar.
posted by Rush-That-Speaks at 4:12 PM on January 11 [15 favorites]


Things like this apology leave me in a very unsettled place

your whole post is exactly how i feel about it. GET OUTTA MY HEAD
posted by numaner at 4:13 PM on January 11


There's this weird thing with forgiveness where Western society has taken the 'it's good to forgive' idea but not really the important bit, which is the repentance. Forgiveness is meaningless without repentance, and I feel like the cultural push towards easy forgiveness is mostly to advantage the perpetrators. A mealy-mouthed apology and a donation to charity is not actually a change in behaviour and absolutely no-one believes it.

I think it's important to allow people who are hurting to put a price on their forgiveness, to use a crass capitalist metaphor. I think it's important to allow people who have hurt others the chance to make amends on the terms of their victims, and it's reasonable to me for that price to be sometimes too high. Sometimes reconciliation isn't worth it.

I think Megan Ganz's price was that she wanted Dan Harmon to publicly acknowledge and recognise what he did to her, which is a fairly reasonable price for what it sounds like he did. Maybe she got what she wanted out of this. Maybe Dan Harmon actually has changed and is not just doing a higher level version of Louis CK's shtick where he tells us he's shitty and we assume he's being honest so therefore trustworthy. Maybe this will push some Harmontown listeners to consider their behaviour. If so, then it seems good to me.
posted by Merus at 5:31 PM on January 11 [11 favorites]




Apparently now I need to read the entirety of The Everywhereist's archive, because she's now my favorite writer.
posted by honey badger at 5:42 PM on January 11


Broadly related: For The Men #MeToo Has Toppled, Redemption Will Take More Than An Apology (Jan. 9. 2018)

An interesting, though light, article.
posted by filthy light thief at 6:33 PM on January 11 [1 favorite]


The quality of apologies never seems to be high enough. I am wondering if an apology should even be a part of the discussion anymore, as even the "good" ones are met with seemingly unmeetable expectations.

It is my opinion that an apology that has been offered and accepted is really up to the people involved. What I think about it is pretty much irrelevant, unless of course I am a part of the giving/receiving end of one.
posted by Chuffy at 7:25 PM on January 11 [3 favorites]


The quality of apologies never seems to be high enough. I am wondering if an apology should even be a part of the discussion anymore, as even the "good" ones are met with seemingly unmeetable expectations.

You don't get to just feed apology coins into the forgiveness vending machine until a nice frosty can of absolution pops out. That's not how this works.

You give an apology because it is owed. Whether or not forgiveness is forthcoming.
posted by His thoughts were red thoughts at 8:02 PM on January 11 [30 favorites]


You don't get to just feed apology coins into the forgiveness vending machine until a nice frosty can of absolution pops out...

You give an apology because it is owed. Whether or not forgiveness is forthcoming.


I didn't say anything about forgiveness or absolution. I imagine that, for some people, there is no such thing. At least, that's how I'm reading it in the comments here. If you don't meet unmeetable standards in your apology, it devalues the whole thing to make an apology a pointless action. Again, if one person is owed an apology, and the other person meets the obligation, it's not up to me to determine the acceptability of it, nor to judge either party for how they communicate.

That's not how this works.

Please, enlighten me. How does it work?
posted by Chuffy at 8:12 PM on January 11


What I think about it is pretty much irrelevant, unless of course I am a part of the giving/receiving end of one.

I mean this only works if you taking a beep-boop-beep-i-am-a-robot-what-are-the-feelings-of-others position.

If someone is abusing other people, then I will despise them, not matter how much I like their work. Even if, shock horror, I was not the subject of the abuse.

Dan Harmon doesn't fall into this category for me - he's owning his mistakes, and I genuinely believe he's trying to do better, even if it may be clumsy at times. It's OK for it to be clumsy. But Louis CK does. Kevin Spacey does. Some actions don't deserve forgiveness.

Please, enlighten me. How does it work?


People get to decide if and when and how they forgive. The apologiser is not entitled to forgiveness, not from the people they've harmed, and not from their fans. That's all.

But if they don't forgive, Dan Harmon made his bed, and he'll have to lie in it.
posted by His thoughts were red thoughts at 8:17 PM on January 11 [9 favorites]


The quality of apologies never seems to be high enough. I am wondering if an apology should even be a part of the discussion anymore, as even the "good" ones are met with seemingly unmeetable expectations.

Read something on Tumblr about this not long ago that I loved: toss a bowl on the ground, then apologize to the pieces and the bowl is *still broken*.

An apology is only valuable as an indicator of future behavior, which is impossible to predict at the time it takes place. Will someone who did something horrid do it again? Will they make amends? We don't know until time's passed, and women who are skeptical of men changing are right to be so because that's not exactly the common outcome.

What I think about it is pretty much irrelevant, unless of course I am a part of the giving/receiving end of one.

I am deeply uncomfortable with this perspective.

I mean, whether or not an apology is accepted is strictly up to the victim. This apology was for Ganz, and it's up to her whether or not she was satisfied with it - no argument there.

However, I'm also invested in this as a fan of Harmon's work, because if he handled it like a sleazeball, I wouldn't want to watch his stuff anymore. There are any number of celebrities I simply do not follow/purchase stuff from/etc. because they've proven to be shitty horrible people in a way that I'm not willing to overlook in the name of 'artist vs. art.' (Personally, I feel like Harmon's apology warrants giving him the benefit of the doubt, but that's a very rare thing.)
posted by mordax at 8:19 PM on January 11 [7 favorites]


Not injecting myself into the personal relationships of others isn't a lack of empathy. I don't consider it my right or obligation to judge others for how they interact with each other after something happened between them that I was not involved in, and don't know enough about. That's all I'm saying.
posted by Chuffy at 8:37 PM on January 11 [2 favorites]


> jeather: "Words are easy."

They're really not. I'm not sure how anyone could conclude that based on the terrible apologies we've heard (even for minor issues in our own lives).
posted by cichlid ceilidh at 9:12 PM on January 11 [4 favorites]



Not injecting myself into the personal relationships of others isn't a lack of empathy


The story and the apology are actually about workplace harassment and retaliation against a woman for refusing a personal relationship. Perhaps you also believe that you shouldn't inject yourself into the professional relationships of others, although I'm not sure why you didn't say that instead, if that's the case. But "personal," ok. every interaction between a boss and an employee is a personal relationship insofar as it involves two persons, you're not literally wrong. do you really take this hands-off not-MY-business attitude towards the effects and aftermath of other workplace safety violations and abuses of power, or just this particular kind?

Being able to force a woman via sexual harassment into a personal relationship -- that you can then consider to be none of a bystander's business, because it's personal, the way he wants it, instead of professional, the way she was entitled to have it be -- is a problem.
posted by queenofbithynia at 12:39 AM on January 12 [22 favorites]


& I of course agree that it's offensive to praise her for accepting an apology as if that is anything but a personal choice, but people should notice that's not the main thing she did. she doesn't just accept the apology, she uses that occasion to take credit for it - entirely deserved credit. for informing or reminding everyone that she required it of him, and that his apology was not a spontaneous action but a reaction. With respect to her own generous opinion about it, she is the one who should be giving the apology masterclass because she is the one who got him to give it. She shouldn't have had to, but she did.

Requesting an apology under these circumstances is braver and more meaningful than offering one ever can be.
posted by queenofbithynia at 12:47 AM on January 12 [7 favorites]


I don't consider it my right or obligation to judge others for how they interact with each other after something happened between them that I was not involved in, and don't know enough about. That's all I'm saying.

Without meaning to give offence, I don't think it is all you're saying. You're also indicating that other people do not have a right to judge conduct when they involve parties other than themselves. Again, I don't want to be inflammatory, but I think that's pretty clearly an ethical position that is at least incoherent and arguably abhorrent. This is because it either implies:
a) a position where no one is allowed to exercise moral judgement about the acts of others unless they affect them in some way. That's an extreme position beyond even Randian libertarianism, taking us into a sort of ethical solipsism, where the moral imperative not to judge overrides all others, except where one is directly affected by an act. Not only is that an arbitrary and incoherent ethical rule, which seemingly precludes us from judging people who break any rule, even the rule not to judge others, it also seems entirely impractical, as it knocks out any ethical basis for a criminal justice system (I have some pretty radical ideas about the theory of punishment, but even I would not claim that it is always morally wrong for the state or other third parties to sanction people for criminal acts).

b) a position where we are allowed to exercise judgement about people for what they've done, but are obliged to cease exercising such judgement as soon as an apology is given (or possibly given and accepted). This seems incoherent, because it distinguishes arbitrarily between one's right to judge particular acts to be wrong and one's right to continue to hold that view. Verbal harassment and apologies for them are, in Austinean terms, performative speech acts (to avoid confusion, "performative" is used as a term of art, here). I think it is plainly arbitrary to hold that people have the right to moral discretion about speech acts that cause harm, but do not have that discretion about speech acts which apparently seek to (or actually do) amend harm.
Further to being incoherent, the implications or your arguments seem contrary to some very basic moral intuitions. Imagine if you could hear your neighbour assaulting his wife through the wall daily. After a while she leaves, but you overhear her telling him she's forgiven him, as she does so. Is it really wrong of you to continue thinking that the guy is a prick, ignoring him in the street and telling people he's a prick and why? I really don't see how that can be true.

While, in one sense, "forgiveness" can be used to describe a particular response of a victim to a perpetrator, it also describes the broader relaxation or reversal of social or legal classifications or sanctions. I think that it is wrong to adopt a position which suggests that people using the term "forgiveness" in the second sense used above are bound by the conditions that apply only to the first sense.
posted by howfar at 1:11 AM on January 12 [13 favorites]


something happened between them that I was not involved in, and don't know enough about.

Also, what more do you need to know? Harmon actually described his campaign of harassment, in its different stages, and admitted to the harm that they did to his victim. Is there some missing piece of knowledge that you need to be sure? And were you a juror on the OJ trial?
posted by howfar at 1:14 AM on January 12 [13 favorites]


His admission that he fundamentally did not think of women as people is-- it knocks the breath out of you. I mean, I KNOW this. I know this after a life full of men teaching me this in every possible way. And yet, to have one of them admit it is...still stunning.

I read Ganz's responses to his apology in that light-- she said that she went into listening to it fully expecting it to be pablum at best. But for the gaslighter to admit "yes, it was me making the lights flicker, yes, it was me making you doubt your own experiences, yes, it was me damaging your professional reputation in revenge, yes, it was because I was angry about my boner, yes, it was because I thought you were a prize I deserved and not a person at work"-- it's actually shocking to hear an admission and the claiming of blame.

It isn't enough. But for the illusionist to suddenly own up to all his tricks still feels like a revelation. I think there's a catharsis in truth that has nothing to do with Harmon's "redemption" or whatever. Admitting you burned down the house doesn't rebuild the house, but it gets the person falsely accused of arson out of custody.
posted by a fiendish thingy at 6:56 AM on January 12 [35 favorites]


I think some people are talking past each other because "forgiveness" can mean so many different things: a unilateral letting go of anger for my own well-being; a restoration of relationship in response to repentance and amendment of life; writing off a bad debt that can't be repaid and eating the loss (out of pity or mere realism); sparing someone the consequences of their wrongdoing; erasing the record or just forgetting a wrong because the offender was sufficiently punished and/or made restitution; overlooking a wrong done to someone else because you think the offender has changed or the offense is excusable; probably other shades of meaning...
posted by straight at 7:08 AM on January 12 [2 favorites]


They're really not. I'm not sure how anyone could conclude that based on the terrible apologies we've heard (even for minor issues in our own lives).

He's a writer, too. And I mean more: words are easy compared to the other important part, actually making a CHANGE. This apology needs to be the beginning, not the end of the journey.
posted by jeather at 7:31 AM on January 12 [4 favorites]


His admission that he fundamentally did not think of women as people is-- it knocks the breath out of you. I mean, I KNOW this. I know this after a life full of men teaching me this in every possible way. And yet, to have one of them admit it is...still stunning.

How the hell do we combat this?!
posted by jenfullmoon at 7:36 AM on January 12 [2 favorites]


I don't want to let the idea pass by that Harmon only offended against one individual, so that she's the only one with a stake in his apology other than Womankind in a vague and secondary sense. that's blatantly false. it's all laid out in the damn apology.

I don't want to know if this is the first time he acknowledged all the business about lying to his then-girlfriend when she asked if something was up re: his obsession with this writer, because that part of it really and truly is not our business, but if you read the full transcript Ganz was absolutely not the only person directly manipulated and the only person to whom he owed an apology. and I hope this podcast was not an unpleasant surprise to his ex, although again, I don't actually to know unless she wants the world to know.

and I hope it is true when he says he never did this before. Are people taking his word for that, and why would they? I remember a little while ago, when Joss Whedon was being the loudest creep of the week, people here posted comment after comment of a-HA, now I see, THAT'S why that actress got that job! it must have been because he wanted to fuck her, because god knows her acting wasn't any good. This was the anti-harassment side. so who wants to stand up now, when to come forward is to volunteer to be evaluated on how much of your career success can be explained as some asshole's bribe-gift?

one of the worst things about the "special treatment" phase of harassment, the seduction phase that precedes the backlash abusive phase, is that other people on your level -- who should be your natural allies -- resent you for getting ahead for reasons other than your work. that's even if your work is good, and who can you believe about that anymore. And it's not just bad for the designated victim, it's bad for every other woman there whose work isn't praised and promoted even if it deserved to be. that's why sleeping with just one of your employees or students, or harassing one, or targeting one for retribution, is always an offense against the entire class/workplace. just because he was worst to Ganz, just because she was the only one he was actually trying to hurt, doesn't mean she was the only victim.

course this isn't so bad when you're the only woman working in some writer's room since there aren't any other women to be degraded along with you. ha ha ha.
posted by queenofbithynia at 8:09 AM on January 12 [18 favorites]


Holy shit I thought that cinnamon article was satire when I saw the headline. Like seriously WHAT THE FUCK A GODDAMN ROLL RECIPE.
posted by graventy at 8:51 AM on January 12 [2 favorites]


On Harmon's other podcast, Whiting Wongs, out today, he and cohost Jessica Gao (a Rick & Morty writer) discuss the issue further (article covers a lot of the discussion, if you don't want to listen) and she talks about her own experiences as a woman of color in the writing room and what allies can do to help.

I like Dan for all his flaws but was reluctant to say "THIS is how you apologize" without seeing if he was going to do anything else. Now I am much more comfortable saying THIS is how you apologize, you keep the conversation moving (and talking is Harmon's superpower, so he's using his gift and his clout well here). He only personally can be responsible for so many hires but if he keeps the ball in the air talking about it, that's going to create more pressure in the industry. I hope this makes it easier for writers to start talking about this stuff other than on the whispernet.
posted by Lyn Never at 9:46 AM on January 12 [7 favorites]


> They're really not. I'm not sure how anyone could conclude that based on the terrible apologies we've heard (even for minor issues in our own lives).

He's a writer, too. And I mean more: words are easy compared to the other important part, actually making a CHANGE. This apology needs to be the beginning, not the end of the journey.


In addition to jeather's absolutely correct response, when I hear a shitty apology in my own life, it's always been from someone who wasn't actually sorry that they hurt me. It's been about 'they were sorry they got caught and would like me to drop the matter without holding them accountable.' Never been sexually assaulted, but it happened after someone let their fucking dog attack me one time - 'sorry you're taking it like this.'

That's very much how most men caught in the #metoo movement have sounded to me - sorry they got caught, not sorry they hurt anybody. See that fucking cinnamon roll guy or Kevin Spacey or... you know, it's a long list of guys who are clearly just annoyed anybody's calling out their horrible behavior, unwilling to offer anything but the most insincere performative contrition.

I'm not sure why anybody would think it's because 'oh they're just awkward' - these are celebrities. Sounding good is the whole job, and they have enough money to hire someone if they can't figure out a particular statement.
posted by mordax at 11:31 AM on January 12 [5 favorites]


I regret entering into this thread.

My point was about apologies being inadequate, regardless of how good or bad they are, but I should've just kept my thoughts to myself.

My second point was simply, he apologized, she accepted. My value judgement on how good or bad or whether she should accept it or fuck that guy forever is not really necessary. I wasn't really being meta.

I'm sorry.
posted by Chuffy at 4:44 PM on January 12


Like seriously WHAT THE FUCK A GODDAMN ROLL RECIPE.

Apparently it's pretty tasty, too! Because the world is strange.
posted by XtinaS at 6:34 PM on January 12


Jonah Engel Bromwich, NYT: Megan Ganz on Dan Harmon’s Apology: ‘I Felt Vindicated’
posted by ZeusHumms at 5:01 PM on January 13 [1 favorite]


Apparently it's pretty tasty, too! Because the world is strange.

Not according to this woman who made them:
The pizza dough does not mix well with the sweetness. The icing is sickly sweet, the rolls themselves oddly savory. I was right about the texture – the dough is too tough. I hate them, but I keep eating them. Like I’m somehow destroying Batali’s shitty sexist horcrux in every bite.
posted by Lexica at 5:24 PM on January 13 [1 favorite]


Wow, Megan Ganz is an amazing person. The whole NYT interview linked above is terrific, but this bit reveals a truly extraordinary person:
So I sent him an email to clarify that the harassment was everything that happened after I said no. Then I detailed those events, and explained how they made me feel powerless and traumatized. And I told him that if he was serious about wanting to do better, he needed to face the reality of what he had done. But I also said I wouldn’t go public with any of that information, so to his credit, he could have just let it end there. What happened after was entirely his choice.

After I listened to his apology, I sent Dan a text to thank him and forgive him without reservation. Then I wrote what I wrote on Twitter, because it felt strange to do the confrontation in the light, but the forgiveness in the dark. People should see the good that can happen when you aren’t afraid to accept responsibility for your mistakes. He gave me relief, and I hope I was able to give him some in return.
It seems like she also found a way to wake up at least one man, with extraordinary patience and detailed explanation. The burden was never on her to do so, of course, but that she honored Harmon enough as a person to teach him and give him a real chance to do better by literally helping him understand how to do so, has benefitted them both, and—if Harmon keeps talking about it and helping to make long overdue practical changes (in, i.e., hiring habits)—many other people going forward, too.
posted by LooseFilter at 5:24 PM on January 13 [4 favorites]


> It's been about 'they were sorry they got caught and would like me to drop the matter without holding them accountable.'

That's a good way of putting it. I'm currently working on an apology and am trying to figure out why I'm apologizing to the person I wronged -- and I keep making the apology about meeeee and how it wasn't really my fault and please don't think bad things about me, and not about them and their experience and my part in that. It might be better to not even apologize, unless I can get it right.
posted by The corpse in the library at 9:31 AM on January 16


That's a good instinct. I'd say keep yourself out of the apology entirely unless you can say specifically "here's what was going on with me then, not as an excuse but as an explanation, and here's what I've done to fix that situation so it won't happen again", and only if you can do so in at max two sentences.
posted by Flannery Culp at 11:25 AM on January 16 [1 favorite]


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