On boredom & connection

Yesterday, I saw coverage of a banal interview that Nicole Kidman conducted with Marion Cotillard in the new issue of Interview magazine. I’m no Andy Warhol authority, but I have been reading a bunch about him for my Andy Project, and from what I’ve gathered, this type of boring silliness seems to have been the very reason he founded Interview in the first place.

His body of work was largely concerned with boredom (see especially his early film work) and he personally seemed to respond to a particular kind of vapid (maybe even unintentional) wit, the kind that sometimes comes from the mouth of a person living in a rarified world.

“Boredom,” Warhol compadre Francesco Clemente told Charlie Rose, “is the origin of any good idea.” Which stands in counterpoint to the very American idea of necessity being the mother of invention.

In any case, the Kidman/Cotillard interview, which I only skimmed, includes a fair bit of pseudo-intellectualizing (talk about the pot calling the kettle black…) and back-patting with regards to local eating and environmental awareness and the elderly.

“I’m trying to teach my daughter, Sunday Rose, to have that respect for older people. I’d love to see that come back.”

What a stupid-sounding thing to say. And yet: I’d writhe in embarrassment if someone recorded my attempts to connect with people in an interview format, then printed the transcription. In the name of connecting with people, all manner of idiotic things are said: I think that often the tone or intent is more important than the words themselves and you can’t always glean tone or intent from flat text.

The added pressure of portraying a version of oneself in a synthetic environment (actress-on-actress interview) turns the whole thing into a type of performance. It’s a recipe for subsumed discomfort. And discomfort was what Warhol was most interested in provoking in his entourage, especially on film. I think in part because it is a way of accessing what’s true about a person.

So yeah, this interview makes me roll my eyes a bit. But I think what’s under it all is the idea that here are two people making an apparently genuine attempt to connect while dealing with the conflicting goal of depicting public-friendly versions of themselves.

And that is an interesting project. In theory. In practice? It’s just a bit boring.

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