Jian Gomeshi, Billy Bob Thornton, Albert Schultz and shifting perspectives

By Megan Mooney

Billy Bob Thornton and Jian Gomeshi

So, by now you’ve likely all heard about the SNAFU on Q yesterday with Billy Bob Thornton.

Albert Schultz had to follow Billy Bob, which was both good and bad.  Good because he was the perfect person to provide a bit of comic relief afterwards, providing the knife needed to cut the tension.   Bad because it was hard to focus on his interview because my mind was still reeling from the interview before.  Since I happened to be with someone when I heard it, we kept randomly speaking over Mr. Schultz talking about just how terrible Billy Bob was.

So, before I go on about Billy Bob and Jian, let me point out to you that Albert Schultz is the Soulpepper production Glengarry Glen Ross that is running until May 9, 2009.  If you go on a Tuesday maybe he’ll be at the talkback and you can ask him about the interview.  Oh, and a quick note about the show – it starts at 7:30, so you’ll be disappointed if you show up to go in for 8.

Now, on to Billy Bob and Jian:

There are so many things that could be said about the interview, but really, it all boils down to Jian handled himself beautifully and Billy Bob is a tool.

It’s not so much the content I want to talk about, but rather the way my perspective of the interview shifted when I watched it (as opposed to when I listened to it live).

So, if you want to play along at home, you can listen to the podcast first, then watch the video.  It’s a very interesting lesson on how much is communicated visually – something that’s very good to remember when making theatre.

When I first heard the interview I was agog.  I basically couldn’t believe what I was hearing.  All I could think with every word uttered by Billy Bob Thornton was ‘what a horrible man’.  My mind reeled at his rudeness, huffyness and plain pouting.  I thought he was being a belligerent child.

I lie, it wasn’t all I could think.  I also thought about how amazingly Jian Gomeshi was handling himself and how awful it must be for him.  This is way beyond the usual interviewer’s nightmare guest, the kind that answers with one word, the one where it’s like pulling teeth to get any kind of response that only answers with one word.  This was someone activly ruining an interview.  So, I can’t say it enough, cudos to Jian, take comfort in the fact that you came out the shining star in this one, and hey, if it matters to you, you’re WAY  more famous today than you were yesterday.

So, for most of the day that’s where I stood on the whole thing.  Pouty spoiled brat does interview.

But then I watched the video.  There was SO much more there.

Not only could I see the disbelief in Jian’s face and the agony in the face of Billy Bob’s poor bandmates, I could also see the vacance in Billy Bob’s.  Watching the video it was abundantly clear that Billy Bob was ‘on’ something.

I could also see that the band answered most of the questions, which wasn’t clear to me on the radio (they all have oddly similar voices).

All this information changed my impression of the interview.  I’m not sure how.  I don’t have a clear ‘this is what I felt before, and this is what I felt after’ impression, but there was a distinct difference.  I’ll try and identify a bit of it.

The first difference was that I hadn’t taken into account the hell that the rest of the band must have been going through.  With the audio I only felt outrage, with the addition of the video I felt pity mixed in with the outrage.

I was also struck once again by how well Jian handled it, he clearly kept trying to engage Billy Bob, not just verbally, but through eye contact and open body language too.

But mostly I was struck by Billy Bob.  Suddenly he seemed more a fool than and ass, or, well, make that as well as an ass.  What kind of idiot gets high before a national (in fact – North American wide) interview?

It’s amazing what a difference visual cues make to the interpretation of a situation.

If you want to discuss the content of the actual interview I suggest checking out the Q blog entry.  Of course, I’m always happy to hear your comments in the comment section here.

The photo is a screen capture from the youtube video on the Q blog

5 thoughts on “Jian Gomeshi, Billy Bob Thornton, Albert Schultz and shifting perspectives”

  1. See I’m not sure that BBT was stoned. I thought it was the case at the beginning as he answered every question with “I don’t know”, but his long winded answer about the Movie Monster Magazine was a planned exposition. He was mad (about a stupid thing he shouldn’t be mad about) and wanted to derail the interview on purpose, so he thought up a way, by monologuing about something. He was trying to make Jian look bad, and I don’t think that amount of work could have been done while stoned. It was well executed.

    I also watched the video after listening to see what his bandmates thought of the affair. And yes I noticed as well that Jian did an amazing job of keeping his body language open to BBT to answer questions while realizing that his band was actually answering, at least early in the interview.

    What I find most interesting about the affair are the people who are coming to BBT’s defense saying that Jian screwed up by mentioning something that was supposed to be “off the table”! It scares me how many people think it’s okay to censor the media. I don’t know about you, but I want to get the full story. I know the truth is always subjective, but I’d at least like to get the facts.

  2. Nicely said Candice. It didn’t occur to me that he was stoned until I watched the video, when I was just listening I thought he just wasn’t bothering to pay attention to what was happening. Once I saw it though, I immediately thought he was stoned.

    Of course, I haven’t any clue, he may not have been, it’s just what it looks like to my untrained eye.

    My hunch got what felt like some validation when I read this comment on the youtube video by leefish1 (http://www.youtube.com/user/leefish1):

    Notice how, at :45, Billy looks up and around the room, his mouth hanging open. That’s the LSD kicking in. It tends to happen rather suddenly. Yes, I know this from personal experience. His inability to answer simple questions, or to string a coherent sentance together are also clues. So is the soft-spokenness. He may also have been drunk before the acid, that explains the slumping at the beginning and his combativeness later. I have seen this before.

    Booze + Acid = Bad.

    It’s actually pretty funny to watch it specifically at that point in the video because his jaw goes slack and he starts looking around the studio in a ‘where am I?’ kind of way.

    In terms of telling reporters what is and isn’t off limits, I actually think that’s reasonable to an extent. I mean, if Jian had been doing the whole interview just about film and stuff, and not about music, then I can see being upset (but NEVER would acting out in this pouty way be appropriate), but to say that *nothing* can be mentioned, that’s pushing it too far. I mean, I suppose you can ask, you can ask for anything you want – hey, does anybody have a million dollars they want to give me? But you can’t expect full compliance just because you’re some big Hollywood star, er, I mean, just because you’re some musician starting out your career… ;)

  3. watch the end. It is 6am. Not even BBT drinks at 630. Not even I drink at 630. I wait until 7.

  4. Sorry JZ for the delay in comment approval, your comment got lost in my spam :(

    Anyway, I’m not sure the time of day matters in terms of drinking or not, but for the record, no one is sure why he said 6am, because the taping/broadcasting of the show doesn’t start until 9, and he wasn’t the first person on. So, who knows why he was up at 6am, but it wasn’t ’cause of the show.

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