Let’s say you are me. And, let’s say you are in a restaurant eating dinner with your spouse. You are sitting their chatting away when your eye stops on a woman walking by your table. You watch her for a second. Of course, your wife notices. That’s how things go.
Your spouse, feeling playfully feisty says, “You leaving me for her.” “Pfffttt!” is what you give her as a response. “She had a nice body”, your wife retorts. You come back with, “Well, she did have those headlights, but, meh.” “What are you saying? I have small boobs?” Game over.
There’s no recovery from this position. At the point in a conversation with your wife that you are comparing her boobs with another woman’s boobs, you can’t recover. There is nowhere to go but down. Down in flames.
You may be wondering what is up with the boob talk. Well, setting the table if you will. Let’s get a quick quote from Ms. Kirsten Dunst:
“You couldn’t have someone like me, with big breasts, in that film.”
Say what? That’s what I said anyway, when I stumbled on that line from Ms Dunst.
I like Ms. Dunst. I have to admit, though, my exposure to her is pretty limited. Her days as a teen heart throb were 15-20 years too late for me. A quick scan of IMDB tells me I have probably only seen her in two films. Spider-man in ’03 and Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind in ’04. I liked her in ESSM. It’s a great movie and she had a good supporting actress role. Spider-man, on the other hand, was terrible. She and Tobey McGuire were fine, but the movie as a whole was horrific. We went as three couples. By the end of the movie, four of us were openly mocking it. The point is that I’m not a big follower of Ms. Dunst, but I know who she is and I know her when I see her.
Early last year, I happened to see a picture of her on cnn.com and I couldn’t resist her smile. I clicked through to the article. It was an interview for The Guardian that she did as one of those movie release interviews actors have to do as promotions for their films. She struck me as intelligent, thoughtful, and introspective. Three things I like in people. I also learned that she had a bout with depression a few years ago and I have a soft spot for people who fight the black dog.
Two weeks later, her face appeared in an odd place. This time she was smiling at me from an ad on a political blog I read. It was one of those ads between the first and second blog post. The kind you never click on. I clicked on it. It was a NYTimes.com ad to an interview the Times had done with Ms. Dunst (yes, they had an ad on another web site promoting an article on their own site) about the same movie.
Besides her being intelligent, thoughtful, and introspective; I had one other impression. Ms. Dunst needs Coach Pop’s mad interview skills.
Over the course of the last three seasons, I have had the privilege to ask Pop questions from the media scrum (strangely, I haven’t been offered any one-on-one interviews). Additionally, I also watch the Coach Pop interviews that they post on Spurs.com after games and shootarounds. I’ve heard him field a few hundred questions and when I am in attendance I usually prefer to listen and observe.
In the course of those observations, I’ve picked up on some general guidelines that Pop uses for his responses. I believe Ms. Dunst would benefit from an interview tutorial courtesy of CIA Pop.
First and foremost, Pop’s number one rule is never make comparisons. Especially don’t compare yourself to others. If you do, make sure it is self-deprecating. How many times have we heard Pop say something like: “I’m not smart enough to out coach somebody”, “I’m just trying to get by”, “If I knew the answer to that”, “We just throw them out there and see what happens”? Pop never talks about himself in a positive way and he never compares himself to others.
Additionally, he has an explicit rule that he doesn’t compare players. Never. Ever. Why? Because when you compare players, it always comes across as “A is better than B” which always leads to the headline of “Pop doesn’t think B is as good as A”.
Here’s the full quote from Ms. Dunst:
“It’s something about Charlotte’s body, too. You couldn’t have someone like me, with big breasts, in that film. Charlotte’s thin and her breasts are small and that’s easier to watch somehow. For someone like me to do that film it would almost be ridiculously shocking.”
The problem with comparisons is that people will ALWAYS interpret it as one person having and one person lacking. Good and bad, up and down, better and worse. In the quote above, she’s obviously comparing breasts. You can’t help but notice with the words “big” and “small” in there. That’s not the point of what she’s saying, but that’s what jumps out at you when you read it. What you read is “I have bigger breasts than she does.” And we all know bigger is better, right? Well, not when you understand what she’s talking about. She’s talking about a movie where the actress Charlotte cuts her breasts off in a scene. Ms. Dunst, I believe, was trying to say that Charlotte was somebody that could do that scene effectively and that she herself couldn’t. Still, when you make comparisons, people hear other things. More importantly, when you make comparisons, people in the media can leave the context and half the words out.
In defense of Ms. Dunst, I strongly suspect that The Guardian article was written (or edited) in a way to intentionally make her look bad. Buried near the bottom of the Times article, the second one I read, is an interesting tidbit. It seems that Ms. Dunst has a nude scene in the movie. You wouldn’t, and I didn’t, pick this up from The Guardian article.
Check out this transition from paragraph to paragraph in The Guardian article:
“I’ve felt like a puppet on films before and have been really frustrated and angry. I mean, Lars might see himself as some master manipulator, but that’s not how he comes across. I mean, most of the scenes were improvised and he doesn’t even say much. How can that make me his puppet?”
Look, she says: she agreed to make Melancholia because she loved the script. It’s not as if he had asked her to make Antichrist, the director’s previous film, in which Charlotte Gainsbourg played a bereaved mother who mutilates her own genitals. “That kind of film is harder for someone like me to get away with. I’m more in the public eye than Charlotte.” She pauses to reconsider. “It’s something about Charlotte’s body, too. You couldn’t have someone like me, with big breasts, in that film. Charlotte’s thin and her breasts are small and that’s easier to watch somehow. For someone like me to do that film it would almost be ridiculously shocking.”
They go from talking about the director, Lars Von Trier, to talking about her breasts. When I first read the article, I thought, why is she bringing up her boobs and how she’s more in the public eye when they are talking about a director who is tough to work with? I’m betting, and heavily, that Ms. Dunst was asked about her doing a nude scene. It *would* make sense that an actress who is “more in the public eye”, and who has been in movies since she was five or six years old, would be thoughtful about doing her first nude scene in a movie and say she liked the script. And then say, “Hey, it’s not like he asked me to cut off my breasts, I was just in a nude scene.”
The editing makes you think that what she’s really addressing is why she was in a movie that Von Trier directed. It then makes it sound like she’s saying “I’m too famous to do his other movie. I’m too famous to do a movie called Antichrist. And, my breasts are too big for that movie as well”
Pop’s lesson for Ms. Dunst is that you can’t control the editing, but you can control what you say. Where she gets in trouble is when she starts comparing herself to Charlotte. Because when those comments are edited, you only read the comparison. If she followed Pop’s rule of never comparing, then there would not have been a quote to misuse.