On CNN’s New Day, host Chris Cuomo interviewed the most hated man in the world, Julien Blanc.
Cuomo’s barely contained disgust at Blanc and pick-up artistry is, itself, kind of an amazing thing to behold; at one point, he actually calls pick-up artistry “some pathetic man’s group” (which is just telling it like it is, to be honest). Halfway through the interview, Cuomo appears to just give up and start flipping through his notes — as if he can’t even stand to look at Blanc anymore.
Meanwhile, Blanc offers one of his first public apologies since #TakeDownJulienBlanc took the world by storm. He’s “really, really sorry for everything that happened”, apparently — except that, Blanc still thinks it was all “a poor attempt at humour”.
Blanc starts off the conversation saying:
I just want to apologize to anybody I’ve offended in any way. This was never my intention, and I just want to put out there that I’m really sorry for everything that happened.
But, of course, Cuomo asks the pressing question: is a qualified apology a meaningful one? Blanc offers a contextualized apology: he apologizes that his attempts at “humour” were misconstrued. He apologizes that he wasn’t careful enough in what he posted through his social media. He does not apologize for any actual offense. He does not acknowledge that his seminars represent a pattern of advocated violence against women.
In essence, Blanc apologizes for getting caught. Rather than to offer an unqualified mea culpa, Blanc instead becomes defensive, saying:
It was a poor attempt at humour, and a lot of it was put out of context… I teach guys how to gain confidence, most of them [are] socially awkward.
Blanc doubles down on his defense that he doesn’t teach violence against women. Sure, one of his 23 videos — which he sells as part of his online series on pick-up artistry — shows him putting his hands around a girl’s neck and forcing her face into his crotch. Sure, he started the hashtag #ChokingGirlsAroundTheWorld. But, Blanc argues, we don’t understand his lessons: he shows himself choking women because he doesn’t teach men to choke women as a flirtation technique. We think it’s violence, because images of him choking women were taken “out of context”. (“You can make anything look bad,” he says.)
Blanc characterizes the backlash against him as “confusion” (I’m understandably confused by the mental gymnastics it takes to say that teaching choking is not teaching choking), and admits that his apology is motivated more by the way he is being perceived — as Time‘s “most hated man in the world” — instead of by new insight into the problems with his teachings on pick-up artistry.
At least there’s one bright spot: Julien Blanc is apparently “re-evaluating” his life’s work. I would say that’s a good call. Julien Blanc is clearly a man who has a lot to learn — about women, about social media, and about apologies. He has no business trying to teach anyone about anything.