Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Chris Matthews disappoints

Every time I think I should be more generous toward Chris Matthews, he disappoints me anew. The other day, after showing a clip of Jean Dujardin and Bérénice Bejo in The Artist (2011, dir. Michel Hazanavicius), Matthews remarked, “I don’t know where they found those guys.” Interviewee James Cromwell, who appears in the film, was too tactful to respond. But it couldn’t have been too difficult for Hazanavicius to find those guys. Dujardin and Bejo both have long careers in film. Both have worked with Hazanavicius before. And Bejo and Hazanavicius are married.

Is it all right not to know these things? Sure. But when you’re on television, you should try to know what you’re talking about, or at least know what not to talk about.

Related posts
The Artist (and typography) (“ ” v. " ")
Chris Matthews explains it all for you
OSS 117: Cairo, Nest of Spies (Bejo, Dujardin, Hazanavicius)

comments: 7

stefan said...

I saw this interview and had the same thought, right down to the point about being more generous toward Mr. Matthews. Sometimes I think his blustery enthusiasm is charming, but as a viewer, it is more often frustrating and sometimes, as in this case, cringe-inducing. He is often insightful, and I want to like him more than I can. But it may not be fair to conclude that he didn't know "where they found those guys." I've heard him get so carried away that he forgets he knows something. That's when I flip over to the PBS NewsHour, where I should have been in the first place.

Daughter Number Three said...

I just saw The Artist last weekend (at the Grandview Theater in St. Paul). Loved it.

Thanks for all this information -- like Chris Matthews, I didn't know much about the creator or the actors. But then I am not interviewing one of the actors.

Michael Leddy said...

Stefan, here’s one from today’s show. This stunned me when I heard it, so I had to look it up and transcribe it. It comes at the 5:09 mark in the segment:

“Joan, I don’t watch television the way most regular people do, meaning a lot of most people, they come home, they’re tired, and they go in the living room, maybe they watch TV while their wife in some cases is making dinner, or their husband in some weirder cases is making dinner, and they watch television throughout the night.” I think he’s joking about male inability in the kitchen, not about same-sex couples, but still: what?!

I like to see Matthews getting a guest to commit to absurdities (as he did with Michele Bachmann a few years back), but he seems to offer up plenty nonsense of his own.

Daughter Number Three, I’m glad you liked The Artist. I’m already looking forward to getting the DVD.

Stefan said...

I saw this one too, Michael, and I agree that it's pretty astonishing. I'm absolutely not arguing with you. I'm embarrassed to have seen both segments that you've cited, and I cringed again at the same-sex couples comment. But in a way, this illustrates my point: I don't think he really thinks it's "weirder." As far as I can tell, he is on the good side of the gay marriage debate. But he speaks so rapidly and gets so worked up that he talks over himself in the same way he talks over his guests. I don't want to apologize for him, but I half-suspect he meant something closer to "rarer." It's a funny coincidence that you posted the Margaret Edson comment (which was great, by the way), because after reading and commenting on the Chris Matthews post, I tried to think of him as a writer, and I couldn't, though I guess he is one. I wonder if Edson would love the classroom as much if he were one of her students. I've never read anything he's written, but it's hard to imagine that he could focus well enough or long enough to compose even a unified paragraph.

Michael Leddy said...

I think I’m being more generous than you on this one, Stefan: I really thought he was trying to make a joke about male inability to cook.

I must laugh — just today, I swear, I was thinking about what it would be like to have Chris Matthews in a class. I could imagine the other students rolling their eyes.

Re: Matthews as an author, do you remember this interview with Jon Stewart?

stefan said...

Yep, and I don't even have to look. If I remember (and guess) correctly, Stewart blasts him for the book's thesis, that life is like a political campaign. To my mind, this was one of the great Daily Show interviews. (But thanks for the link. I'm going to watch again right now.)

Michael Leddy said...

I just discovered: Life’s a Campaign was republished in 2009 in a slightly different form as The Hardball Handbook: How to Win at Life. I wonder whether the Stewart interview had anything to do with the change of title.