Gigi Hadid has apologised – sort of – for her mocking impression of Melania Trump at the American Music Awards.
The supermodel attracted heavy criticism for adopting a Slovenian accent to poke fun at Trump in a skit on stage on Sunday night.
Squinting her eyes and pouting her lips, she delivered the lines: “I love my husband, President Barack Obama. And our children Sasha and Malia” to a tittering audience.
She was, of course, referencing the infamous “plagiarised” speech the 46-year-old gave in July that was virtually identical to one previously delivered by the outgoing First Lady Michelle Obama in 2008.
While neither Melania Trump or her Twitter-happy husband have responded to the impression, plenty of AMA viewers were quick to accuse Hadid of racism and bullying.
The 21-year-old has now offered up a handwritten apology, posted on Twitter, to “anyone that she offended.”
As remorseful sentiments go, Hadid’s is hardly what you’d call wholehearted. It’s a lukewarm concession - a limp playground handshake between children forced to make up by teacher.
Her note begins by nudging blame towards the writers of the skit, with the Super making it clear she was responsible for toning down their original joke. Her imitation of Trump, she says, was delivered “with no bad intent.”
She then references the fact that she too has been sent up on national television, with the insistence that she took her own treatment on the chin. She supposes that Trump “understands showbusiness,” before signing off with: “I apologise to anyone that I offended and have only the best wishes for this country.”
It’s a half-way house between defending her impression and apologising for her fake Eastern European accent – equal parts explanation, justification and begrudging regret.
But should she have apologised at all?
If Tina Fey, Amy Schumer, or any other woman who makes their living from impersonating people had taken on Trump, would they have been hauled over the coals for doing their job? Or is it because Hadid is primarily a model, whose voice is not used to being heard?
A good portion of the internet ire thrown Hadid’s way has come from zealous Donald Trump supporters whose approach to their future POTUS is rigidly humourless and uncompromising. Chucking an accusation of racism at the daughter of immigrants is a strong riposte for insulting their future FLOTUS, but does it have any grounding in this context?
Trump was roundly mocked for plagiarising her speech, and this was the thrust of Hadid’s bit – had she not been referencing Mrs Trump’s most unfortunate clanger when she mimicked the former model, her parody would have been more problematic.
Many people suggested double standards, asserting that Hadid would have not mocked Michelle Obama in the same way:
It's pretty simple. If you don't think mocking Michelle Obama is cool then don't mock Melania Trump.— Jake Tapper (@jaketapper) November 21, 2016
However, given that Obama has never publicly ripped off a previous First Lady’s words in a high-profile speech, this is a fairly redundant point. Had she done so, then wouldn’t rinsing that scandal at an awards ceremony be fair game?
Hadid has had a stellar rise to the A-list in 2016. She’s been the most in-demand model at Fashion Week, taken on a design collaboration with both Tommy Hilfiger and Stuart Weitzman, offered a badass response to being victim-blamed when she was attacked in the street and enjoyed a blossoming high-profile romance with Zayn Malik. It’s understandable that she and her PR team wouldn’t want to jeopardise all this by ignoring strong accusations of racism.
But whether she is truly sorry – or has anything to be sorry for – is another matter.