Since the #MeToo movement gained steam last year, the art of the public apology has become a subject of intense debate. When someone is accused of abuse, there’s really no right way for that person to make it better, although there is most definitely a wrong way (see: Kevin Spacey). Last October, former Real Estate guitarist Matt Mondanile, who also records as Ducktails, issued another in a growing pile of failed public pleas after being accused by several women of emotional abuse and sexual misconduct. This week, after disappearing for a few months, he tried again.
On Thursday night, Mondanile issued a second statement that no one asked for. In a rambling, self-indulgent Facebook post, he expressed regret for many of his past actions, including his “obsession” with his ex-girlfriend, the musician Julia Holter. Mondanile described how he was ousted from his former band, how living with his mother and seeing a therapist have helped him achieve “clarity,” and how he had “either forgotten or neglected to remember these occurrences in my past life.” He also included a “thank you” screenshot from a donation to the Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network (RAINN).
“At this point I felt the years of therapy I had gone through had helped me grow from my past mistakes and irresponsible behavior. I felt confident I had moved passed this dark period of my life and could continue to explore my life long passion of recording and performing music,” Mondanile writes of the time before his “public shaming.”
Though he apologizes to Holter and the nameless women who felt compelled to come forward with accounts of his terrible behavior, the statement is ultimately another duplicitous half-apology and offers essentially nothing of value. Statements like these (for example, Louis CK saying that he “never showed a woman my dick without asking first”) do little besides further injure the innocent people involved. By making headlines with his self-serving claims that “some of my best friends are former girlfriends of mine” and “my own irresponsible behavior has severely ruined my life long pursuit and dream,” Mondanile reminds his victims of the trauma they experienced at his behest. He writes that his problem with lacking “empathy” is a thing of the past, but clearly, he has more work to do.
Here’s the statement he should have written:
“I am sorry for the pain I caused Julia Holter and so many other women. It is all my fault.”
Instead, Mondanile tweeted this, and then deleted it:
Mondanile insisted “I never considered myself a misognyist [sic] or sexual predator.” A better first step would be to admit that this was never the case. He is correct about one thing: that people have “the ability to change and better themselves and should be able to integrate back into society.” There is certainly a difference between the behavior of Matt Mondanile and, say, Harvey Weinstein. But what Mondanile needs to understand is that forgiveness, for anyone, must be earned, and he’s got a very long way to go.