Disney ‘unintentionally’ disses Pahrump

Pahrump, the 36,000-resident Nye County community that often seems to bewitch show biz types—it was featured in Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip, Mars Attacks and Lady Magdalene’s—has received an apology from Disney.

A Disney XD show, Gamer’s Guide to Pretty Much Everything, called the town “a stinkhole,” referred to a fictional medical malady as “Pahrump lump,” and described children in Pahrump as “filthy.” A clip of the items was posted online by Nye County teen Danyelle Ormiston where it got good ratings.

After the Pahrump Valley Times publicized the disparaging language about the town, Disney vice president of children’s communications Patti McTeague wrote the newspaper, “Regarding your report about viewer response to a recent episode of the comedy series … we reviewed the episode and have removed references to Pahrump and other lines of dialogue for future airings. Any disrespect to the people of Pahrump is unintentional and we sincerely regret if any offense was taken.”

This is known as a non-apology apology, incidentally. McTeague did not say, “We sincerely regret it.” Rather, she wrote, “We sincerely regret if any offense was taken.” Also known as an ifpology (comedian Harry Shearer’s term), it shifts the fault from the offender to the offended. Such apologies are common in politics. In January 1992, after a tape recording of Bill Clinton making demeaning remarks about New York Governor Mario Cuomo being a Mafioso was released by Gennifer Flowers, Clinton said, “If the remarks on the tape left anyone with the impression that I was disrespectful to either Gov. Cuomo or Italian-Americans, then I deeply regret it.”