We were pretty clear a few months ago when we told male journalists to stop jizzing all over journalism and start treating their interview subjects like actual people instead of two-dimensional objets d’art put on this Earth merely for them to admire. As Jezebel and others have pointed out today, Rob Haskell offers the latest entry in this unsavory series, his new Vogue cover story on Selena Gomez, where he describes this actual human being as “doll-like and startled in pictures.”
Haskell, like dumbshit Rich Cohen before him, appears unclear on the concept of interviewing cover subjects, setting up the article like the beginning to a Nancy Meyers romantic comedy, rather than the (ideally) professional dialogue that it is.
On an unusually wet and windy evening in Los Angeles, Selena Gomez shows up at my door with a heavy bag of groceries. We’ve decided that tonight’s dinner will be a sort of tribute to the after-church Sunday barbecues she remembers from her Texan childhood. I already have chicken simmering in green salsa, poblano peppers blackening on the flames of the stove, and red cabbage wilting in a puddle of lime juice. All we need are Gomez’s famous cheesy potatoes—so bad they’re good, she promises. She sets down her Givenchy purse and brings up, in gaudy succession, a frozen package of Giant Eagle Potatoes O’Brien, a can of Campbell’s Cream of Chicken soup, a bag of shredded “Mexican cheese,” and a squat plastic canister of French’s Crispy Fried Onions.
“I bet you didn’t think we were going to get this real,” she says, and when I tell her that real isn’t the first word that springs to mind when faced with these ingredients, she responds with the booming battle-ax laugh that offers a foretaste of Gomez’s many enchanting incongruities.
Just as Gomez clearly can’t help prevent herself from laughing in the face of Haskell’s obvious witticisms, the infatuated Haskell also soon can’t help himself, so overcome is he by Gomez’s enchanting incongruities, in the piece’s most egregious passage:
As I slip an apron over her mane of chocolate-brown hair, for which Pantene has paid her millions, and tie it around her tiny waist, I wonder whether her legions have felt for years the same sharp pang of protectiveness that I’m feeling at present.
Oh, “pang of protectiveness,” is that what we’re calling that? So many things wrong here, but what really stands out is that Gomez is a successful ex-child actress, now pop star, who has publicly struggled with mental health issues. She barely gets a chance to speak in this piece (yet her one-time co-star Paul Rudd gets a whole paragraph just to describe her), but when she does, she offers valuable insight about that difficult period of her life:
I wish more people would talk about therapy. We girls, we’re taught to be almost too resilient, to be strong and sexy and cool and laid-back, the girl who’s down. We also need to feel allowed to fall apart.
This vital quote is placed almost at the end of the article, far below Haskell’s weird references to Gomez’s ex Justin Bieber, who she doesn’t even mention by name. Vogue should have passed this along to Teen Vogue; Lauren Duca would have killed it.
This is not Haskell’s first misfire: He previously drew media wrath when he described the model-turned-actress Cara Delevingne’s bisexuality as a “phase.” He should probably just quit talking to/about people. And he should read this, because it’s about him.