Watch this interview. Icelandic band Sigur Ros.
Their painful selfconsciousness, resounding discomfiture is impressive. you could trust them. But the interviewer has a lot to be pulled up over. I do not appreciate the interviewer's insensitivity to the complexes his subjects have to deal with. These include:
- The language English (not a language the band is comfortable with)
- Their place as visitors (shakey for anyone but the most arrogant, culturally/personally)
Facts such as these you can fairly factor even before you begin an interview. These are 'benefit' facts, that gives your guests the benefit of consideration. The most composed (relative) and eloquent of the group is the one who has not surprisingly spoken from the start. He could be a father, the oldest in the group. He is not half as interesting a study as the rest. I don't refer to him after this; he fields the first question and remains in unassuming charge ...The cruellest move is when the interviewer turns on the one who has not spoken a word till then. The boyish one in stripes. His anxiety is clear, an expression of dread, he clears his throat holds his breath and taps his fingers in the runup to the specific question 'hopelandic'. Then it should surprise no one that this tense boy's first answer is an expletive. He nervously-defiantly says 'fucking bullshit' which is beeped. After initial laughs, the expressions of the bandmates indicate they do not approve of what their bandmate just said, the impression he is creating. The interviewer turns indulgent and school marmish. The interviewer persists and tries to put in words for him which makes the boy more difficult and contrary.
Note how 2 members reach out for their papercups at the same time on the second question. The meek-postured boy in stripes closest to the camera only wants to leave and has taken to contorting his tongue in his mouth. He is the last to put on the headphones; wisely he puts it on only when the interview has begun. Half way into this interview, the mood of dire unease has not lifted. The member furthest from the camera has now placed his hand to to the side of his head - the thinking stress pose. Inspite of the thinking, he has spoken little yet his eye movements indicate he may be turning manic and distressed. When the interviewer uses the word 'life' ('Are you enjoying life?') it seems to offer hope, and most of them look up but not much is said. The interviewer hapless in his own desperation at what may go down as a failed interview asks a rude 'Are you having fun...'. This helps no one and the answer is a deadpan 'we're having fun'. clearly this Icelandic team is not going to open up like the savvy American. The interviewer seems to raise his voice a bit and asks 'Are you a bit of a phenomenon in Iceland?'. The word 'phenomenon' cracks them up and they chuckle privately but audibly suggesting they have private opinions about the interview, the interviewer, the choice of words, what it tells about the culture.
Looking back, I see the interviewer has spoken more than the rest - we know nothing more about the band. Quite remarkably, they have succeeded in showing up the inefficiencies of the interviewer, who is likely an over-acheiving media student with 3 children of his own.
The interviewer becomes confrontational and strident when he could be considerate. Embarassed, his bandmates try to answer on behalf of their boy to cover up his social deficiencies. There is an expression of part-sympathy, -concern, -anger in his fellow member's . One of his mates, on the extreme right turns red-faced after putting in a quick word on his mate's lyrics.
The interview ends with an obvious 'edit' and the withdrawn face of the fractious band member in stripes and his bandmates; we could imagine there was an ugly face-off ('Drop it will you; picking on Jaan')?
We could consider the challenge in interviewing groups, where the one interviewer decides to question each and every person in that group before all. What happens inevitably is that the first to be interviwed has the pleasure of speaking primally, instinctively, less selfconsciously. While the others among the last to be called up have to deal with their own built-up opinions and reactions to everything so far. And unless the room was noisy and distracted, there would be every reason for the final few who are called up to be nervous, self-conscious and unable to express the complex range they have built up by then. It would be the responsibility of the interviewer to pick out then who he would not naturally pick out for a comment and give that person the lead in expressing and in a sense dominating proceedings (subsequent to this initiation, the turned-in member would not even be occupied by his primacy or deficiency in participation)