Sometimes, ignorance is diss. In the early aughts, Mariah Carey killed Jennifer Lopez with cluelessness, shutting down an interviewer who asked about the rival popstar simply by saying, “I don’t know her.” Almost two decades later, Carey is still fielding questions about the moment-turned-meme, and you’ll frequently find the original clip, edited down to two shady seconds, used as a reaction GIF. People see power in its blatant evasiveness, but it’s also starting to look petty, a product of media pitting successful women against each other. The “I don’t know her” meme was due for an update. This week, it got one: Keke Palmer’s accidental roast, “sorry to this man.”
Here’s what happened. Hustlers actress Keke Palmer did a video interview with Vanity Fair while hooked up to a lie detector. The interviewer asks if her character, True Jackson of True Jackson, VP, was a better VP than Vice President Dick Cheney, showing Palmer a photo of Cheney on an airplane. The hope, clearly, was to make her nervous and send the polygraph needle jumping all over the page. Palmer was nonplussed. “I hate to say it, I hope I don’t sound ridiculous,” Palmer says after a beat. “I don’t know who this man is. I mean, he could be walking down the street, I wouldn’t know a thing. Sorry to this man.” People on Twitter found this pure and innocent gaffe delicious.
All week, people have been using the “sorry to this man” clip to express just about everything they were confused about or wished to dismiss. Some were simple and wholesome:
Others were snide:
Still, as you might expect from a meme starring Dick Cheney, many more were political—though not necessarily Bush-era political. (Twenty-six-year-old Palmer, who was in grade school during Cheney’s time in the West Wing, has already weighed in on that: “After finding out who he is, I’m glad I didn’t know.”) On Twitter, “Sorry to this man” has become almost a gentle, smiling nod to a person’s cancelation, a way to express that you’re past done with somebody’s behavior without getting too worked up.
The appeal is partly the format. The internet loves a lie detector test—they’ve been a YouTube staple for years, and an American obsession since the 1920s. In an online culture where deception is the norm, the illusion of certifiable honesty provided by polygraph machine feels unique, almost taboo. (The scientific credentials of the contraptions are so dubious that their results are not admissible in court, but the average netizen doesn’t seem to mind.) Palmers’ accidental send-up of Cheney is electric because it’s so obviously honest. She’s since confirmed that she “truly was sorry to that man.”
social experiment by Livio Acerbo #greengroundit #wired https://www.wired.com/story/sorry-to-this-man-meme