Britney Spears Apology for Umbrella Incident

This just in! Britney Spears has finally apologized for the Umbrella Incident! You remember the Umbrella Incident, don’t you?

The thing with Britney Spears and the umbrella … when she did something or the other with an umbrella … ok, I don’t know what this is all about either. But it’s Britney Spears! So it must be of world-changing significance.

Britney Spears
apologized for attacking a photographer’s car with an umbrella in
February, saying at the time she was preparing to try out for a movie
part and got carried away.
(“Spears Sorry for Attacking Photog’s Car,” AJC.com).

Uh .. I sort of vaguely remember that. Seems weird though. Why would Britney do such a thing?

The incident took place during the same period
in which she shaved her head, got new tattoos and was seen partying
hard in Los Angeles clubs …
Not long after the incident, Spears checked into rehab.
  (AJC.com)

Oh. Now I get it. This was during the public meltdown. So let’s see what our favorite melted pop tart has to say:

“I apologize to the pap for a stunt that was
done 4 months ago regarding an umbrella,” Spears said in a statement
posted Wednesday on her Web site. “I was preparing my character for a
roll (sic) in a movie where the husband never plays his part so they
switch places accidentally. I take all my rolls [sic] very seriously and got
a little carried away. Unfortunately I didn’t get the part.” (AJC.com)


So, near as I can tell, Britney was … method acting?

The text on her website has been edited by someone who can spell since AP picked up the story … but it still doesn’t make any sense:

“I apologize to the pap for a stunt that was done 4 months ago regarding an umbrella. I was preparing my character for a role in a movie where  the husband never plays his part so they switch places accidentally. I take all my roles very seriously and got a little carried away.  Unfortunately I didn’t get the part.” (britneyspears.com)

“Pap” I think is celebrity slang for “paparazzi.”

The photographers in question worked for a celebrity gossip site called X17online.com. They have posted a handwritten version of Britney’s note.

I don’t even know what to say about this, but we can draw at least two lessons:

1. Sometimes, an apology is a bad idea. Like when you go on a head-shaving, umbrella-whacking, underwear-forgetting, pill-popping, baby-dropping, revolving-door-rehab attending rampage — it’s probably better not to bring that all up again six months later. Even to apologize. Especially if you are still bonkers.

2. Kids — don’t do drugs.

Mick Jagger Apology to Spain

This is a brief item:


MADRID, Spain – Mick Jagger used the Catalan language to apologize to fans for last year’s cancellation of several shows in Barcelona and three other Spanish cities.

In
a TV broadcast Thursday as the Rolling Stones prepared a new tour of
Spain, Jagger told fans, “We are very sorry we canceled our concert
last year, but now we are ready.” The apology lasted a few seconds and
was prolonged by laughter and clowning from drummer Charlie Watts and
guitarist Keith Richards.
(Yahoo! News)

Classy on Mick’s part to apologize for canceling the dates last year … extra style points for apologizing in the local language:

Canal 3, the television station that broadcast the apology, described Jagger’s Catalan diction as “better than average.”

Dr. Martens Apologizes for using Kurt Cobain’s image to sell shoes.

Until I started paying attention, I never realized how many interesting apologies there are floating around out there in the remorsosphere. Here is another corporate apology. Dr. Martens, the shoe company whose products were the de facto official footwear of the grunge movement, has apologized for … well, read this excerpt:

“The company has apologised to Kurt’s widow Courtney Love
– who was outraged by the image of Kurt wearing black Dr. Martens
boots, draped in an angelic robe and sitting on a cloud – and admitted
they made a “mistake”.

Dr. Martens CEO David Suddens said: “We do think that it is
offensive. We made a mistake. My message to Courtney Love is – this is
something we shouldn’t have been doing.

“Dr. Martens is very sorry for any offence that has been
caused by the publication of images showing dead rock icons wearing Dr.
Martens boots.”

Kurt was one of several dead rock legends used to promote Dr.
Martens’ AirWair line. Sid Vicious from The Sex Pistols and The Ramones
star Joey Ramone also feature in the adverts, which have only been
shown in the UK. (“Kurt Cobain apology”)

The United States has much more developed legal protections a gains unauthorized commercial use of the images of even dead celebrities than the UK or most other jurisdictions. If you don’t believe me, churn out some bootleg Elvis knickknacks that don’t involve black velvet and count the seconds until the Presley estate brings the hammer down. But even granting that the ad in question was only intended for use in the more lenient UK, Dr. Martens ran afoul of McGirt’s Maxim: “Just because it’s legal doesn’t mean its a good idea.”

It is perhaps in poor taste to employ the image of a dead man to sell footwear without first checking to see if that would be okay with his widow. Particularly when the widow is a shy and sensitive soul like Courtney Love, whose  representative said on her behalf (it generally being advisable for celebrities not to peak for themselves): “Courtney had no idea this was taking place
and would never have approved it. She thinks it’s outrageous that a
company is allowed to commercially gain from such a despicable use of
her husband’s picture.”

I’m sure I could track down the footage of the offending ad on YouTube. But if I can, so can you if you really want to see it. For our purposes, suffice to say Courtney was offended. No word on whether the survivors of Sid Vicious or Joey Ramone took offense … the headlines all play up the Kurt Cobain angle.

Here is the apology, from the Dr. Martens website:

DR. MARTENS REGRETS THE USE OF UNAUTHORISED IMAGES

Dr. Martens is very sorry for any offense that has been
caused by the publication of images showing dead rock icons wearing Dr. Martens
boots.

Dr. Martens did not commission the work as it runs counter to
our current marketing activities based on FREEDM, which is dedicated to
nurturing grass roots creativity and supporting emerging talent.

As a consequence, Dr. Martens has terminated its
relationship with the responsible agency. 

David Suddens
Chief Executive

A fairly run of the mill corporate apology. Elevated slightly by David Suddens stepping up and putting his name on this … not the generic disembodied corporate voice.  But points off for passing the buck to Saatchi + Saatchi London. In the article cited above, Suddens is quoted as saying he didn’t know Cobain was featured in the ad and that Dr. Martens didn’t commission it. I’m not sure how that works. Does their ad agency just go off on their own to produce and release ads without ever running them by their client? If so, they don’t any more … Saatchi + Saatchi got canned. (Which serves them right for that pretentious “+” in their name, if nothing else.) Not sure how to score that. If, in fact, S+S was freelancing, they had it coming. But it also looks like Dr. Martens atoning for their mistake by punishing someone else. 

Then you have that weaselly “Hey, don’t look at us — this doesn’t even fit our current marketing campaign.” Boy, S+S really didn’t get the memo! But, Mr. Suddens, are you saying that if your current marketing campaign did happen to be based on dead celebrities really digging your shoes rather than “nurturing grass roots creativity” (?!?) then it would have been okay?

Finally, who exactly are we apologizing too, again? Again, the official apology isn’t directed to anyone in particular. Mr. Suddens, on behalf of Dr. Martens, appears to be apologizing to whom it may concern.  And it is an apology of the “sorry for any offense” variety rather than, “sorry for what we actually did wrong … using the image of Courtney Love’s dead husband to flog boots without asking permission first.”

Not a great effort, all in all. In fairness, Mr. Suddens appears to have made some additional statements more specifically addressed to Courtney Love … but here we’re just scoring the official statement on the Dr. Martens website, not extra credit assignments or makeup work.

More coverage:

Courtney
Love Gets an Apology for Cobain Ads

DATE OF APOLOGY: May 25, 2007
APOLOGIZER:  Dr. Martens (via David Suddens, Chief Executive)
APOLOGIZEE:  Not specified. Presumably anyone offended by the publication of images of dead rock icons wearing Dr. Martens boots — a category that, at a minimum, includes Courtney Love.