The phrase, Mistakes Were Made, is regarded as the king of non-apologies for a reason. It is defined as, “a passive-evasive way of acknowledging error while distancing the speaker from responsibility for it.” Public figures such as politicians, CEOs, celebrities and influencers apologize using careful language and linguistic techniques such as passive voice, nominalization, and shifting blame, while inserting caveats and qualifiers to effectively disassociate themselves from the main point of contention.
Ultimately, these rote public apologies appear to be largely performative, expedient smokescreens for ulterior motives. These swift gestures of regret made for mass consumption fall short of addressing larger issues or creating actionable solutions. Summed up best in author Shaka Senghor’s words, “You can’t fix the things that you are unwilling to acknowledge.” However, people still demand to see the show and judge how worthy or unworthy someone is of forgiveness.