A Hollywood Reporter interview with Golden Globes co-hosts Tina Fey and Amy Poehler has generated a judgy buzz the last couple of days because some people have felt the need to criticize Poehler for not offering nice enough responses to the writer, Marisa Guthrie.
I’m sure it’s not the easiest thing in the world to interview celebrities about a dumb awards show, but Guthrie didn’t exactly rise to the challenge. To put it bluntly: Some of her questions were pretty lame.
One that drew ire from Poehler was, “What is the worst pitch you’ve ever been given for an awards show joke?” In other words, asking her to bash a colleague on the record. Ditto for the question about what she thought of Seth MacFarlane’s boobs song from the show last year and what she thought of SNL finally hiring another female African-American cast member, the first since Maya Rudolph. Rudolph left seven years ago – how do you think Poehler feels about the absence of black women in the cast for that long? Of course it’s terrible. Guthrie also says, “A challenge: $1,000 if both of you wear Amy Adams’ plunging blouse thing from American Hustle.”
Whereas Fey rolled with the dumb questions and remained gracious, Poehler clearly wasn’t in the mood for bullshit. At times, it does seem like she’s snippy out of nowhere, but for one thing, we don’t know in what order these questions were actually asked. I’m sure most people realize that Q&A interviews aren’t actual transcripts of the conversation. Unless it’s in a punk zine, in which they’ll publish every “uh” and “um” uttered, readers should assume that even Q&As are cut down and arranged in a way in which they flow best and make the most sense.
Therefore, I wonder if the Amy Adams boobie-dress question was asked early on. If it was, I would’ve mentally checked out in disgust too after that. But who knows…
As a journalist, of course I wholeheartedly support the idea that celebrities should not treat interviewers like peons and should be understanding that they have a job to do — and sometimes that means asking questions that celebrities would rather not be asked. But the swift criticism of Poehler’s responses — and nonresponses — made me curious to see what male Golden Globes hosts were asked in interviews in previous years, so I looked some up.
Ricky Gervais lambasted a slew of celebrities in all three years that he hosted, pissing off a lot of people. But the people who got angry were mainly the industry people he made fun of. The media, on the other hand, tended to describe him as “defiant,” “brazen” and “unapologetic,” even when Gervais said flat out in interviews that he didn’t care if people were offended by any of his jokes. Although the National Post and Celebuzz! applauded Poehler for refusing to answer stupid questions, Jezebel cautioned readers that some of her cold responses might make them wince, Perez Hilton (I know, but still) asked his readers whether Poehler came across as “royally rude,” and Time called Poehler snarky, short and impatient.
That Gervais (who I love and think is a genius) can give the entire industry the finger and elude criticism, yet Poehler is disparaged for not being nice and polite even in the face of questions insulting to her intelligence and standing in the entertainment world seems sexist and condescending.
Interestingly, though, it seems that even in the day that I’ve been mulling over this topic and decided to defend Poehler, it appears the tide is turning in her favor. Stories are popping up calling her interview “sassy,” not “snippy,” and more writers seem to approve of her “not suffering fools.”
Still, I wish that more interviewers asked female celebrities questions like the ones Gervais answered in Esquire, such as, “What are you most proud of from last year’s Golden Globes?” and “Did anyone reinforce the idea for you that the sky was the limit — that you could become a figure of worldwide renown?” instead of “Who are you wearing?”
And as Fey — despite being held up as the sweet interviewee actresses should aspire to – told Guthrie about women in comedy, “The only disadvantage women have is having to keep fucking answering the question of, ‘Is it hard and are women funny?’…
…the men don’t have to answer that question.”