comScore Megan Ganz, Dan Harmon Thread a Master Class in Forgiveness | The Mary Sue
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This Awesome Megan Ganz Thread About Dan Harmon Is a Master Class in Apologies and Forgiveness

image: Gage Skidmore/Flickr Megan Ganz speaking at the 2012 San Diego Comic-Con International in San Diego, California.

Very often, we talk about the apologies that are less than adequate. The ones that fall short. Thankfully, we have an example today of an apology that was actually done well. What’s more, we have the recipient of that apology modeling forgiveness beautifully. Sometimes, the Internet can actually be a nice and hopeful place.

Last week, we covered former Community writer Megan Ganz’s call-out of her former boss, Dan Harmon. She took him to task for his abusive behavior as showrunner during her time on the show, and at first, Harmon’s response wasn’t great. Apparently, a lot can change in a week. Ganz posted this to Twitter today:

The seven-minute-long apology Harmon gives on Harmontown recounts the entire course of events that would’ve affected Ganz: from denying his crush on her (while still being creepy-flirty with her) and lying to his live-in girlfriend, to breaking up with his girlfriend and professing his “love” for Ganz, putting her in the position of having to “reject” him (even though she’d consistently been saying that his behavior toward her was inappropriate), to resenting Ganz for “rejecting” him and subsequently (and pointedly) treating her like garbage while he took to drugs and alcohol to drown his sorrows. It ended up costing him Community. It ended up costing her a sense of security in her chosen field.

Harmon apologizes, and stresses that anyone who values him in any way shouldn’t attack Ganz online thinking that they’re “defending” him. They are not, and Harmon was desperately trying not to cause her further harm. He acknowledged the harm he’d already caused by “damaging her internal compass,” causing her work experience to be fraught with doubt as to whether or not she was actually good at her job.

The most important thing Harmon says, is that it’s extremely important to think about and talk about this kind of behavior, because for too long, he got away with not having to think about it. He says:

“I never did it before, and I never will do it again, but I certainly wouldn’t have been able to do it if I had any respect for women. On a fundamental level. I was thinking about them as different creatures. I was thinking about the ones that I liked as having some special role in my life. And I did it all by not thinking about it. So, I just want to say, in addition to obviously being sorry, but that’s really not the important thing. I want to say that I did it by not thinking about it.

And I got away with it by not thinking about it. And if she hadn’t mentioned something on Twitter, I would have continued to not have to think about it. Although, I did walk around with my stomach in knots about it. But I wouldn’t have had to talk about it. And the last and most important thing I can say is just, think about it. No matter who you are at work, no matter where you’re working, no matter what field you’re in, no matter what position you have over, or under, or side-by-side with somebody. Just think about it. You gotta. Because if you don’t think about it, you’re gonna get away with not thinking about it, and you can cause a lot of damage that is ‘technically legal’ and hurts everybody.

And I think that we’re living in a good time right now, because we’re not gonna get away with it anymore. And if we can make it a normal part of our culture that we think about it, and possibly talk about it, then maybe we can get to a better place where that stuff doesn’t happen.”

He again implores the shitty Internet not to be shitty to Ganz. It’s a heartfelt apology, you can hear it in his voice, and what makes it good is that he takes the emphasis off his feelings and focuses it on his behavior. Because his feelings don’t matter. What matters are his actions that made an employee feel extremely uncomfortable, and eventually abused, when she was simply trying to do a good job to contribute to the success of his show.

Ganz appreciated his public (and private) apology, and went on to talk about that:

It’s heartbreaking that the behavior Harmon inflicted on Ganz had to exist at all. However, it’s heartening to hear that he genuinely seems to have learned something. It’s heartening that Ganz was brave enough to say something, forcing him to “think about it” so that he could learn something.

And it’s heartening to see, in a world where there seems to be a lot of calling-out and a lot of defensiveness with very little actual conversation, someone express that they were wronged and getting the apology they wanted and deserved, with the person doing the apologizing actually seeming self-aware enough to make some changes.

(image: Gage Skidmore/Flickr)
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