Celebrity interviews are a minefield for both sides. For the interviewer, you want to ask good questions that’ll get good answers. You want to be mindful of the zeitgeist and your subject while pushing for a news item or story that no one else thought to ask about. For the interview subject, you have to be prepared for anything, because you might get asked about the movie or message you’re promoting, or the politics of the #MeToo movement, or something totally random, like a fan theory or a rude rumor. And—if you’re a woman—you might get frankly and relentlessly asked about your sex life. Or in lieu of actual questions, just subjected to drooling and awkward flirtation. This is something both actress Heather Graham and New Zealand’s prime minister Jacinda Ardern had in common this week.
Graham is doing the press rounds for Half Magic, which she wrote, directed, and headlined. It is a sex-comedy about three women empowering themselves to find the love, respect, and sexual bliss they desire.
So, naturally, when Richard Chang from LA Weekly interviewed Graham about the movie, he asked her a bunch of uncomfortable to outright gross questions about being hot.
The following are screenshots of the interview, including Chang’s fixation with Roller Girl, Felicity Shagwell, and the “stripper” from the Hangover movies, who all get a mention in the piece’s introduction ahead of this:
At best, this is a lazy way to drive traffic with the mention of popular movie titles. At worst, it’s him hoping she’ll talk about playing porn stars, sexy spies, and exotic dancers, or maybe just her boobs.
This is a bizarre question, and also maybe vaguely insulting?
First off, you should be embarrassed. Secondly, YES, he did follow the masturbation question with “Did you do a lot of takes?”
This question immediately followed the “Did you do a lot of takes” question. And there may maybe possibly be an appropriate time to ask an actress this question. But it absolutely is not following your query about how many times she’s touched herself on camera. He may as well have passed her a note that said, “I like you. Do you like me? Circle Yes or No.”
To Chang’s credit, he does manage to ask Graham about the movie she’s promoting, and even brings up her involvement in #MeToo. But those questions are pretty standard, making others feel all the more uncomfortable. Like the rest is filler for the sex questions. And then—with seemingly zero self-awareness—there’s this one:
“Too many times.”
But of course, it’s not just actresses who face this sexist line of questioning. Australian journalist Charles Wooley is under fire for the way he interviewed New Zealand’s prime minister Jacinda Ardern. The Australian version of 60 Minutes showed Wooley tell Ardern, “I’ve met a lot of prime ministers in my time, but none so young, not too many so smart, and never one so attractive.” And he said, “Admittedly, although somewhat smitten just like the rest of her country, I do know, that what’s really important in politics has to be what you leave behind.”
Oh, really, Wooley? You think Ardern’s most important contribution as a politician is not her being attractive, but her actually doing her job? Well, thank you for this grand insight. Someone call the Pulitzer Committee!
Wooley also asked Adern personal questions about her pregnancy, including when she conceived. Because that’s anyone’s business. And to boot, he does so in front of her partner, Clarke Gayford.
Bless the 60 Minutes editor who included Ardern’s “can you believe this guy” face to her partner.
Dear Male Interviewers: You do not need to tell your female interview subject that you’re attracted to her. This is virtually never relevant. In fact, it’s generally seen as creepy AF. And YEAH, she might laugh or smile, but that’s a deflection we women use so that you don’t become violent or aggressive over rejection. But this shouldn’t have to happen, because an interview is a professional setting, and thereby in no way a place where it is appropriate for flirting or asking when/how/with whom we are having sex. Thank you for your time. And reminder: