Opinion: Donald Glover's bizarre self-interview only highlights the importance of journalists

Donald Glover’s self-interview highlights the importance of journalists | Soho House

The ‘Atlanta’ actor's cover story for Interview Magazine is self-aggrandising and superficial. Leave it to the professionals, says Hanna Flint

Friday 8 April 2022 By Hanna Flint

Any journalist worth their salt is keeping up with the pop culture trend of publications ceding their editorial control to high-profile celebrities in order to secure an interview. Remember when the formidable Anna Wintour allowed Beyoncé to basically guest-edit her own Vogue; US cover spread for the 2018 September issue? The positive of that was that the singer gave young Black photographer Tyler Mitchell the opportunity to shoot the pictures. Right on, B. The negative is instead of an actual interview, we got photo captions penned by the star that gives limited insight into who the woman is outside of the carefully curated image she and her team want to present. 
I guess working with Beyoncé on The Lion King has rubbed off on Donald Glover, because now he’s done the Interview magazine equivalent by interviewing himself. With the third season of Atlanta to promote, the multi-hyphenated artist has penned his own Q&A which, given his comedic proficiency, could have been a rather funny, satirical look at himself and the uncomfortable truths behind the contrived nature of celebrity interviews. 
I’ve done my fair few over the past decade; from five-minute junket slots to 10 hours of phone conversations, and if you’re lucky, the subject will be willing to talk about anything rather than the prescribed set of questions associated with the film, book, TV show, album or whatever they’re promoting. If they skew towards the latter, you might end up in trouble with their personal PR if a question goes off-piste. I was blacklisted by a studio for several months after I asked an actor about their so-called ‘blaccent’. But I’ll accept it, because I’d rather ask the uncomfortable questions that there is, I think, public interest in knowing the answers to than not ask them at all. That’s the job. 
What’s interesting with Glover’s interview is that he seems to think he’s really probing himself in a way that journalists haven’t. ‘I guess I don’t love interviews and I asked myself, “Why don’t you like interviews?” And I think part of it is that the questions are usually the same,’ he tells himself. ‘This way I can get questions I usually don’t get asked.’
OK, so let’s look at the questions. ‘Are you still making music?’ Jimmy Kimmel asked you this a week ago. ‘Are you worried about getting cancelled?’ There is not a famous comedian in the world right now who has not been asked about cancel culture. ‘Are you afraid of Black women?’ A question designed to suggest he’s asking a tough question, but one he swiftly avoids with a defensive answer: ‘I feel like you’re using Black women to question my Blackness.’ 
Donald Glover’s self-interview highlights the importance of journalists | Soho House
Donald Glover’s self-interview highlights the importance of journalists | Soho House
Donald Glover’s self-interview highlights the importance of journalists | Soho House
He does a similar fake and drive when he brings up the subject of Dave Chappelle. He notes his avoidance of the subject and responds with, ‘I think you know I’ll say what I think, you’re just milking me.’ If this is what milking is then his cow must be dried up. But he does offer some longer responses to subjects concerning criticism of himself, his creative output and comparisons of Atlanta to the white-led series, Dave, in a move to position himself as an auteur. And that’s when you realise what this whole ‘interview’ is all about: Glover’s ego trying to control the narrative of his work in the guise of an introspective Q&A where he fails to truly hold himself to account. 

I suppose it does give away his frustration at the thought of not being heralded in his own life as god’s gift to the creative industries. And we got confirmation that the amazing Maya Erskine has replaced Phoebe Waller-Bridge in the Mr & Mrs Smith series. But there’s nothing in this interview that a journalist wouldn’t have broached themselves if they had the freedom to ask any question, rather than having a PR breathing down their neck and threatening to pull the piece if the response was more honest or open than the finely tuned sound bites they want used by other outlets upon publication. It was only last year that St. Vincent, allegedly, played this card by having a Q&A killed the next morning because the questions, according to the journalist, were too ‘aggressive’.

What’s even weirder about this particular Q&A is that Interview magazine already panders to celebrities by having them interview each other, and the questions are always softball. I guess the journalists there just transcribe the audio. What a waste of their professionalism. Ultimately, this self-interview made for a pretty superficial dissection of a celebrity artist that would have benefited from the outsider perspective of an interviewer or journalist who is as good at what they do as Glover is at what he does.
Donald Glover’s self-interview highlights the importance of journalists | Soho House
Pour one out for Dot Cotton

The great June Brown died this week at the age of 95, marking the passing of another great dame of Albert Square. The soap star was an iconic fixture of EastEnders, appearing in thousands of episodes across 35 years, as the iconic Dot Cotton with her famous bouffant red hair who had to constantly deal with her wayward son Nick and his several attempts on her life. 

It’s a testament to her performance and beloved character that he never succeeded. And, like the late, great Barbara Windsor and Wendy Richard, who played Peggy Mitchell and Pauline Fowler respectively, Brown will go down in history as a British national treasure, if the outpouring of love this week is anything to go by. 

Say what you want about EastEnders, but the soap always delivers dames you’d unironically lay down your life for, and Dot Cotton was that b***h. I’ll smoke a fag for you this weekend, June.
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