Devoid of remorse and responsibility, a not-so-veiled call for sympathy and a selfish ploy to spin the narrative — if you’re a star accused of assault, and you release a public video statement after hiding for over a year, these are not the descriptions that you want to be applied to your apology. However, electronic musician Datsik’s attempt at sympathy is just that; it is a weak PR strategy that hopes to save the reputation of the assaulter that pays no mind to the victims.
Troy Beetles (professionally known as Datsik) is a Canadian DJ and music producer who, in recent years, has become one of the most followed and successful electronic music artists in North America, performing at major music festivals like Coachella.
just watching datsik's non-apology, in which he spares not a single word to address his victims or acknowledge anyone but himself.
— Eprom — Aikon EP Out Now (@eprombeats) November 5, 2019
However, the world has not heard from Datsik in a while, which is presumably not of his own accord. In 2018, sexual assault allegations involving the musician began to pour in. The cascade of voices of women claiming that Beetles had raped, manipulated, assaulted or otherwise abused them spread like wildfire, quickly tarnishing the musician’s public persona. The allegations painted a picture of an environment that not only allowed for the perpetuation of Beetles’ deplorable actions but included details that involved premeditation and precautions taken by the musician’s media team to silence the assaulted women. The allegations and corresponding proof that many women provided went viral, and Beetles’ label dropped Datsik from its roster. All of the musician’s shows were canceled.
It was not until Nov. 5, 2019, that Beetles released his statement. At first glance, there are reconcilable moments of self-awareness, prompted perhaps by critical thinking and reflection. For example, Beetles states, “Only by first understanding a problem are you truly able to fix it, so I’ve been using this past year and a half to do some major soul searching, and to figure out how I can better myself, and make smarter lifestyle choices moving forward.” Similarly, he adds, “I apologize for my poor behavior and the reckless lifestyle that had a detrimental effect on my relationships.” Who knew rape could be so eloquently summed up as a “lifestyle choice”?
Overall, Datsik spins the far-too-lengthy statement to suit his own agenda — he wrote the statement down and read off a piece of paper while recording himself — but still attempts to acknowledge that he has created a mess. Although the musician attempts to give off the impression of taking responsibility, his statement conveys an incomplete story. He skims around the edge of the truth by feigning remorse and does not articulate the details of why he is in the position to begin with. Put simply, Beetles is trying to distract the public and justify himself. His rehearsed words ooze narcissism, and while he might be pouring his heart out, the statement is a love letter written to himself, one that practically screams, “Let me tell you how I want you to see what’s been happening to me.” But, it isn’t about Beetles. It’s about the victims. And the musician fails to recognize this at all.
This is the era of #MeToo. People will continue to recognize and call out sexual assault. Unfortunately, insincere statements like Datsik’s are not rare. Unearthing the sexual misconduct within celebrity culture takes time, and as the veil is being lifted, those who have been affected are becoming more comfortable speaking out against assault. As such, the accused are being forced to acknowledge their criminal behavior, and publicly apologize. Granted, some don’t apologize at all or do it poorly; the list of names could include everyone from Harvey Weinstein and Louis C. K to Dustin Hoffman and George H.W. Bush.
If there was a figurative list of apologies ranked from easiest-to-hardest, rape would rank beyond the top. If someone gets to the point where they genuinely want to apologize for carrying out an act of sexual misconduct against someone else (with the intentions to diminish the pain of the affected individual), the least they can do is to apologize correctly. Consequently, the basics of a good apology, regardless of topic include expressing remorse, taking responsibility (which involves naming the action), making amends (asking what they need from you) and asking the victim about the next steps to ensure such actions never happen again.
When are people going to stop defending musicians they've never met to people who actually knew them? We are tired of arguing with disgruntled Datsik fans. The man was a predator. Who cares about sIcK bEaTs. Go listen to Excision and get over it
— tinkerbell but more annoying (@kit10queen) November 20, 2019
In the case of the Datsik statement, Beetles clearly makes no intentions to actually apologize to the victims, name his specific actions or even reach out to those he hurt. He dodges around the work he’s done to become a better person, but cannot name what brought him to that point. Likewise, even if apologies in the mainstream manage to hit all the basics of a proper apology, oftentimes, they are arguably watered down; their effectiveness is diluted upon intertwining with justifications, excuses or taking away the attention from the victim.
Similarly, Lori Gottlieb, a psychotherapist who contributes to The Atlantic, writes, “First let’s separate what you are seeking for yourself from what this woman might herself be seeking … You’re seeking something from her so you feel less pain (shame, horror, anxiety about whether she will come forward). The question related to her is what you can do so she feels less pain. I’d suggest you get clear about your motivations so that if you do approach her, it’s to help her, and not you.”
As culture continues to unearth the actions of abusers, the public will improve their ability to recognize injustice, which is too frequently represented by hollow, half-assed apologies. Thankfully, Datsik’s apology did not go over well with the public. And it shouldn’t. His reaction to confronting his treatment of women reflects the current culture’s opinion on sexual assault —pathetic. Beetle’s public statement highlights that there’s still work to be done, and even though the musician knew he could not completely ignore the situation, he tried to play the good guy and still turned himself into a villain.
Until abusive celebrities like Datsik are able to set aside their ego and see their actions through the lens of another by putting themselves in the shoes of those they have harmed, we will never see change. We can tear off the sheep’s fur that hides the wolf, but the primary objective should be on vanquishing the wolf itself.