How not to do an apology video

23 August 2018, 16:46 | Updated: 23 August 2018, 17:00

laura lee apology video racist tweets
Picture: YouTube: Laura Lee
Benedict Townsend

By Benedict Townsend

When did YouTubers forget how to apologise?

Something very weird has happened in the world of YouTube. As controversial videos and posts have frequently become the norm, so too has a whole new genre of content: apology content.

These videos and tweets and screenshots-of-iPhone-notes-posted-on-Instagram-for-some-reason are so depressingly common they have spawned a set of trends and rules and etiquettes that apparently must be applied to them.

A person's apology video has to be stark, it has to be a close-up of their face. Said face is very sad and very serious and not here to joke around, guys. The person is extremely sorry. They are so sorry it almost physically hurts them how sorry they are. They express this sorrow not in the way a human being would, but in the way an Apology Video Person does: by scrunching up their face into a range of big sad expressions, looking like Sophia the robot when her creators/captors show off all the facial expressions she can do in one go.


They post the video, act sorry for about ooooooh fourteen minutes, slyly like a few tweets from fans that say 'you ain't even done nothing wrong' and then go right back to their usual selves.

I suppose, in a way, this issue was really brought to light by the loveable scamp L*gan P*aul, who charmed the internet with his egregious, probably illegal, antics to such a degree that he had to point his face at a camera and feign human emotion like a guy who had only ever read about emotions in books.

Logan Paul apology video
"LOOK HOW SORRY I AM". Picture: YouTube: Logan Paul


The latest high profile case in this exhausting, never-ending saga is YouTuber Laura Lee, who was forced to apologise after a series of old (but not that old!!) racist tweets were unearthed.

It was not a good situation for her, for the tweets are... very racist. I'm not going to repeat what she said here (and isn't that brave of me?) but suffice it to say that they were... hooboy were they racist.

Racist in the way that is so blatant it's almost vintage; vintage racism. She was throwing around racial epithets that haven't been uttered since the Vietnam War.

laura lee apology video twitter racist tweets
Picture: Instagram: Laura Lee

Laura was too exposed to follow the usual celebrity route of 'not addressing the problem for a day or two and watching as everyone just forgets about it' and so found herself needing to issue an apology.

First she sent out a number of tweets, which were actually pretty spot-on as apologies go. But, being a YouTuber, she then decided to do a video - the first of many mistakes.

Before we dive in to the unmitigated car crash that is that video, let us quickly reacquaint ourselves with what an apology is, and how to do one:


1. Sincerely say you are sorry, and admit fault. None of that 'I'm sorry you're offended' garbage. You did bad - own it.

2. Do not attempt to pass blame to someone or something else. Own it.

3. Clearly explain why what you did was wrong. There is a difference between 'I'm sorry I did this bad thing' and 'I'm sorry that everyone is mad at me'.

4. Live in your apology for a bit. Don't say you're sorry and then immediately move on and pretend nothing happened. Leave some breathing room so people know that you mean what you say.

Bonus points: pledge to do something that actively makes amends for the harm done. Donate to a charity or something. It's not hard, kids.

Did Laura do any of these things?


What did Laura do?

A series of other things! We shall have a look at them shortly (look forward to that), but let's cut to the chase and say that the response to this apology video was Not Good.

If you look up the phrase 'not good' in the dictionary you will find nothing because they don't put two word phrases in the dictionary, but if they did, it would be a pic of the comments on this video.

And the ratio... dear lord, the ratio. Take a look at this ratio:

laura lee apology video
Picture: YouTube: Laura Lee

In mathematics there is such a thing as 'the golden ratio'. I don't know what this is and refuse to learn BUT I propose that this ratio, Laura Lee's ratio, is the exact mathematical opposite of the golden ratio. This ratio is about as far from gold as one can venture. This is a trash ratio, a ratio for the rats.

This ratio makes me want to take off my glasses and rub the bridge of my nose and then scream GODDAMMIT and kick a chair over, like a frustrated sports coach. This ratio makes me want to log off, go to a remote field and just mull things over for a while. This ratio makes me feel like a rookie cop on their first day who's just seen a dead body for the first time and now is running back to the squad car to throw up, while the veteran cop watches and shakes his grizzled head.

Laura Lee Presents: An Acting Masterclass

You don't need to cry when you apologise. You don't need to cry when you're sad. When was the last time you cried when apologising? It might be recently, it might be never. It depends on the person, the mood, the issue. But it's not mandatory. This is a memo that Laura Lee sadly did not receive and so she spends the bulk of very video visibly straining to produce tears, which suggests that her focus may not be in the right place (actually being sorry). It's one of the most insane things I've ever watched and I've been extremely online for longer than I care to imagine.

The actual content of her video was an all-round mess as we have already discussed in another piece, and fraught with a total lack of any believable contrition. It also featured the nice trope that's always popular with YouTubers - talking about how the apology video has been really hard for them to make, and how when you think about it they're kind of a victim too in a way, because people made them feel sad for being very racist.

On a completely unrelated note, seeking pity when caught out in a wrongdoing is one of the most common and recognisable techniques of sociopaths. Just thought I bring that up for no reason at all.

I just... I just don't get it man. Why can't they apologise any more. What happened. The most cynical part of my brain says to me that a person who would tweet #******* in the first place is probably not a good person and so unlikely to be capable of a good apology but it depresses me to write someone off like that.

I want to believe, as I'm sure you do, that these people are capable of apologising for real. But so far the videos say otherwise.