Gary Oldman has taken a lot of heat over the past week for that incendiary interview he gave to “Playboy,” and rightfully so – his comments defending Mel Gibson's publicly-documented anti-Semitism and Alec Baldwin's use of the word “fag,” among other things, were deeply offensive and worthy of scorn. But now that he's offered a very public (and obviously very sincere) apology on “Jimmy Kimmel Live” (full clip embedded below), does he deserve to be further ridiculed for his comments? I think the clear answer in this instance is “no.”
“I said some things that were poorly considered. And once I had seen it in print, I could see that it was offensive, insensitive, pernicious, and ill-informed,” said Oldman, his voice audibly shaking. “And…words have meaning, they carry weight, and they carry on long after you've said them. And I don't condone or excuse the words I used in any context. I just basically shouldn't have used them in any context. But I did, and I have deeply injured and wounded a great many people.
“So I just wanna….I appreciate you having me here and extending your hospitality…it gives me the opportunity to say to those people from my heart, I am profoundly, profoundly sorry and deeply apologetic. Especially to the fans, because they've been so incredible to me and very loyal. I have my nickname is like, they're Team Oldman. And I really feel that I let them down…especially to the younger fans, I should be…I'm a public figure, I should be an example and an inspiration, and I'm an a-hole. I'm 56 and I should know better. So to them, I also say…I extend my apology, and my love and best wishes to my fanbase.”
Any way you slice it, that's far from the typical “non-apology apology” we've become so used to from celebs caught up in public scandals (case in point: Paula Deen), and for that alone Oldman merits our forgiveness. But he also deserves credit for acknowledging the effect that his words, as a public figure, can have on impressionable fans. Too often we hear statements to the effect of, “I never signed up to be anyone's role model” from highly-influential figures in the industry, and I've always found that stance to be wildly dismissive of the fact that very young people – particularly those with no healthy role models in their own lives – often internalize what their celebrity idols say, sometimes (depending on the message being conveyed) in very damaging ways.
Another thought: despite Kimmel's joke that we can't trust anything Oldman says because he's a “great actor,” the Oscar nominee seemed genuinely spooked by the controversy; judging by appearances, I'd say he's lost not a little bit of sleep over what's gone down the past few days. That too is indicative, I think, of how deeply the controversy has affected him.
I have no doubt that there are some individuals in the media and out in the general public who will choose to brand Oldman as a bigot going forward, and that's their right. That said, doing so would say far more about the person doing the branding than about Oldman himself, who did the right thing in this case and should be given a second chance. I think Kimmel summed it up best when he said, “I think it's important when somebody apologizes to accept their apology. Some people, nothing is ever enough, and there's no end to it and you could go on forever.” Indeed – and in today's social-networking world, they have more of a forum than ever to vent their bottomless rage.
Do you accept Oldman's apology? Let us know in the comments.