In the lead-up to the Oscars, director Spike Jonze has been doing a lot of interviews about his nominated film Her, which probably means that he keeps getting asked the same boring questions about what it means for a man to fall in love with technology over and over again. It's understandable that a person in his position would want to shake up the interview format to make it more entertaining for themselves and Jonze has done a great job of messing with the media in the past (Torrance Community Dance Troupe, anyone?), but this time, instead of getting creative and fun, Jonze opted to get petulant, specifically with BBC Newsnight anchor Emily Maitlis.
Things kicked off when Maitlis asked Jonze to talk them through the idea of falling in love with software.
"Have you seen the movie, Emily?" Jonze replied. "I'm just curious what your reaction was to the movie or what you felt when watching it because the lead-in [question] was all about falling in love with software, which really the movie isn't about. It's more of a love story and a relationship story, but I was just wondering what you felt when watching it."
Jonze feels that Her isn't so much a story about technology as much as it's about love. It's an interesting thought that merits exploring, but unfortunately, both he and Maitlis were unable to turn it into a productive discussion — Jonze because he seemed too annoyed that Maitlis didn't appreciate his film in the right way and Maitlis because she kept wanting to discuss the "man falls in love with software" narrative.
Jonze repeatedly asked Maitlis whether or not she was "moved" by Her and wouldn't let it go when Maitlis informed him that the audience had very little interest in her thoughts on the film.
"Don't avoid this question," Jonze insisted. "Were you moved by it at all?"
"I was moved by it," she finally responded.
Later via Twitter, Maitlis detailed how she actually felt about Her. From The Guardian:
"Ok. Now I can tell you what I thought of #her. Sad, male fetish fantasy of disembodied female who does his bidding," she tweeted. "Like Lost in Translation for mood but nowhere near as good." The presenter did admit the film, which features Scarlett Johansson as the voice of Phoenix's digital lover, was "beautifully acted and indeed voiced."
By declining to voice her opinion on the film during the Jonze interview, Maitlis was simply following some of the basic rules of journalism. That said, wouldn't it have been pretty awesome if she would have just responded to Jonze on air by telling him what she really thought? And wouldn't it have been even more awesome if, instead of getting pouty, Jonze expressed his dissatisfaction THROUGH DANCE?
Sadly, as all creatives know, you can't control how other people consume your art. Jonze, as a very rich and successful person with lots of amazing movies under his belt, should probably understand that by now.
(For better video quality, please feel free to watch the Newsnight clip via the BBC.)