In today’s more woke climate, we have to be a lot more sensitive about people’s mental and emotional health, this extends to interviews. Gone are the days when reporters can just ask anything they want, these days if you want to interview a celebrity, you have know how to turn a phrase so it won’t wind up getting you cancelled and having the rest of social media find you ‘problematic’.
This is completely valid, because as a journalist you always want to make sure that the subject of your interview is comfortable, you also want to keep in mind your audience, you don’t want people looking back at this interview and cringing because you didn’t do your due dilligence and being a prime example of what not to do.
This is exactly what Oprah Winfrey is having to deal with right now.
In a 2004 interview with the Olsen Twins, Oprah made mention of the then rumors surrounding the twins having eating disorders. She point blank asked them what size they wore, which had Ashley Olson stumbling for a moment because she didn’t know what size she wore. Honestly, I could kind of see where she was bewildered by the question because it kind of came out of left field.
Oprah just responded with a “Oh, that’s interesting.” in a really sarcastic way when Ashley fumbled the question. Those of us who were around in the 80’s know the struggle with body image issues that Winfrey has had, so some of us were surprised by her line of questioning. We expected a little more sympathy from her.
However, the early 2000’s were a different time. There were barely any conversations about low self-esteem and the damage it wreaks on people’s lives, there were also not as many conversations about eating disorders and mental health as there are today.
You could argue that this was the early days of the ‘facts not feelings’ doctrine and if you look back from any media at the time, you can see it. So while I think it’s safe to say that Oprah isn’t going to be cancelled over an interview that’s almost 20 years old, we do look back on it as an example of the contrary – what not to do in an interview. Here’s to having a mentally healthier public. Stay tuned!!!