If you want to know how not to interview someone, Kevin Maher offers a textbook example of journalistic ineptitude. Maher interviews Ghost Rider star Eva Mendes, declaring that she is a beautiful woman who transforms “the most insightful of male interviewers into puddles of fawning inarticulacy.” He then declares, with a journalistic swagger unseen since Norman Mailer, that “in my hands this Mendes woman will be putty!” Yeah, that’ll keep Mendes in her place! But Mendes surprises Maher by flirting with him and, instead of Maher flirting right back and not letting Mendes’ beauty get in the way of a good interview, he claims he doesn’t even remember her nude scene in Training Day and, when Mendes brings up her breasts, he doesn’t have the intelligence to tie this into the conversation. He even confesses that he “can’t think of a quick enough quip.”
The problems here are manifold: Maher’s inability to respect her Mendes as a person, Maher’s inability to be honest about her charisma (complete with the Eisenhower-inspired sexism of “the Mendes woman” becoming putty in his hands), and Maher’s inability to play right back, no matter what the subject. Spontaneity is often an ineluctable part of a great interview and, if a journalist doesn’t have the wit, confidence and playfulness to negotiate these tricky waters, he doesn’t belong on the beat.
If anything, Mendes sounds like a very interesting person with a playful streak. It’s too bad that this is an interview conducted by an idiot, signifying nothing.
© 2007, Edward Champion. All rights reserved.