Who's To Blame For This Awkward Interview?
Last week, model and actress Cara Delevingne appeared on “Good Morning Sacramento” to plug her new film, Paper Towns. The interview didn’t go well. The anchors asked lazy and condescending questions, including this gem about the movie’s source material:
Host #1: “Did you have a chance to read [the book]?” Delevingne (sarcastically): “No, I never read the book or the script, actually, I kind of winged it.”
The interview only got worse from there:
Host #2: “Do you find that it’s easier for you to focus because you’re so busy, if you had downtime maybe it wouldn’t be so easy for you? What do you think?” Delevingne: “No. I don’t know where that comes from.”
Host #1: “What do you like about Margo [Delevingne’s character]? Do you have anything in common with her?” Delevingne: “No, I actually hate her.”
Host #3: “I saw you in London talking a couple of weeks ago on TV, and you seemed a lot more excited about it than you do right now. Are you just exhausted?”
Host #1: “You do seem a bit irritated. Perhaps it’s just us.” Delevingne: “I think it’s just you.”
Host #1: “Well then on that note, we’ll let you go then, how about that? We’ll let you go take a little nap, maybe get a Red Bull. How about that?”
Most of the commentary I saw on Twitter blasted the unprofessional behavior of the anchors. And while it wouldn’t be hard to make the case that they were unprepared and patronizing (that parting shot was completely unnecessary), I’m not sure I completely agree with the herd. Delevingne is getting paid, presumably well, to promote her new film. Her main function isn’t to scold the anchors for uninformed questions, but to motivate viewers to shell out $12 a piece to sit in a theater and watch her film. Instead of taking the opportunity to do that, she responded peevishly to the questions, missing an opportunity to promote the film. Plus, since viewers of “Good Morning Sacramento” likely tune in because they enjoy the hosts, Delevingne probably alienated a fair number of viewers. No one forced her to respond to unprofessional questions with unprofessional answers. In contrast, watch this Anne Hathaway clip, which occurred while she was promoting Les Miserables—and shortly after a well-publicized “wardrobe malfunction.” Hathaway remembered that her main function was to sell her film—and she handled Matt Lauer’s obnoxious question so deftly that he even complimented her “creative” turn of the question. One final thought: John Green, the author of Paper Towns, recently said that questioning Delevingne about whether or not she had read the book was sexist, since her male costar hadn’t been asked that question. Assuming that’s the case, I wouldn’t have had a problem with her protesting the question itself—but there again, her tone would have made a difference. For example, she could have said:
“Of course I read the book, and it’s interesting that I keep getting asked that question but my male costar doesn’t. There’s probably some inadvertent sexism in that question, and you probably shouldn’t ask it again. That said, what I loved about the book was that…”
Sarcasm without humor, or at least without explaining the cause, doesn’t play particularly well. Whether fighting for fairer questions or trying to sell movie tickets, I’d advise her to remember that she should be aiming her answers to the broader viewing audience, not the obnoxious hosts. Like the blog? Read the book! The Media Training Bible: 101 Things You Absolutely, Positively Need to Know Before Your Next Interview is available in paperback, for Kindle, and iPad.