A Very Revealing Conversation With Rihanna
October 12, 2015 11:22 PM   Subscribe

"It was hard work maintaining a light buzz for so long, but it paid off. When Rihanna’s manager, Jay Brown, appeared to tell me that this was one of her first interviews in years I just laughed. And then choked. Because here she was." — Miranda July interviews Rihanna for the NYT Magazine's Greats Issue. (SLNYTM)
posted by heeeraldo (26 comments total) 25 users marked this as a favorite
 
I love both of these people and I wish NYT Magazine hadn't cut this article down. I could read pages and pages of fascinating strangers effortlessly bonding like this.
posted by shakespeherian at 12:24 AM on October 13, 2015 [5 favorites]


I am feeling blessed at the moment, interviews with Rihanna and Nicki Minaj!
posted by ellieBOA at 1:08 AM on October 13, 2015


I know basically nothing about Rihanna other than the fact that she exists and I've seen some of her videos. I found this article pretty interesting on a lot of levels, despite my ignorance. Thanks for posting!
posted by hippybear at 1:09 AM on October 13, 2015


Today I learned that I'll read about pretty much anything, even Rihanna, as long as you get Miranda July to write the words.
posted by rokusan at 3:17 AM on October 13, 2015 [2 favorites]


Interviews are much better when the interviewer isn't that awfully starstruck.
posted by frantumaglia at 3:40 AM on October 13, 2015 [12 favorites]


Rihanna HUGGED her.


Also how is she so nice? Just wow.
posted by sio42 at 3:49 AM on October 13, 2015


I love both of these people and I wish NYT Magazine hadn't cut this article down. I could read pages and pages of fascinating strangers effortlessly bonding like this.

I had the exact opposite reaction when I read this yesterday. I liked the parts where she was talking with the Uber driver, but the rest of it didn't work for me at all.
posted by Dip Flash at 5:31 AM on October 13, 2015 [3 favorites]


Interviews are much better when the interviewer isn't that awfully starstruck.

Is there a word for when you miss the point as badly as it could possibly be missed? I bet the Germans have one.
posted by saladin at 6:39 AM on October 13, 2015 [7 favorites]


My draft FPP on this was titled, "men are gonna do what they do — and I am gonna do what I do." The anecdote about Oumarou the Uber driver is my favorite part, such a fantastic coincidence. It must have been so amazing to encounter, en route to an important interview, someone who's already met your wildly famous interview subject and indicates as much by repeatedly pointing out how nice she is.
I said that it took me a long time to find a guy who wasn’t threatened by my power, and Rihanna quietly replied, "I'm still in that time."
I am SO HERE for ALL OF THIS. I went into the link not terribly familiar with either Rihanna or Miranda July but reading their interview made me feel like I was hanging out at their sleepover party or something. And now I desperately want to see them make a reality TV series where they go on adventures together, possibly involving fashion and/or internet research. Or maybe a buddy cop movie? I dunno -- Hollywood [makes 'call me' gesture].
posted by divined by radio at 7:07 AM on October 13, 2015 [6 favorites]


I did not find this to be a "revealing" conversation at all. How long did July speak with Rihanna? There's maybe two paragraphs worth of quotes from her in here, nor did anything indicate that they then "become best friends", which I get it is hyperbole but not sure where it's even stemming from. I thought this would be way more in-depth.
posted by windbox at 7:10 AM on October 13, 2015 [1 favorite]


Gawker spoiled this article for me (shame on me), but in reading the full piece now I don't think it's as criminally self-involved as they made it out to be. There's some good writing in this interview.
posted by GrapeApiary at 7:15 AM on October 13, 2015


Interviews are much better when the interviewer isn't that awfully starstruck.

That was basically Clutch online magazine's take on it too: The New York Times Profile of Rihanna Is All About the White Woman Who Interviewed Her
posted by fuse theorem at 7:49 AM on October 13, 2015 [1 favorite]


I think people are setting the bar too high for New York Times reporting on popular music and culture. Not painful to read = A. Pleasant to read = A+.

Even though this is a bit of a stunt, I'll take it over the interrogation of Nicki Minaj.
posted by nequalsone at 7:50 AM on October 13, 2015


It was an enjoyable read, but when she was left sniffing her clothes and questioning whether it was all just a dream, I couldn't stop thinking of this.
posted by vanar sena at 8:14 AM on October 13, 2015


My wife is about as obsessed with Rihanna as it is possible to be, and was lucky enough to meet her (and hug her) briefly. She loved this article and absolutely confirms the way that even talking to Rihanna for ~30 seconds makes you feel like you are BFFs. It's Miranda July, you have to know going in that it is going to be at least a little bit personal and not strict anonymous journalism. I was really struck by Rihanna's comments on race - that people can deal with her as a singer or performer, but when she comes at them in a business setting, they all of a sudden have issues with her as a woman of color. Also, I would love love love to see the concert DVD of that theoretical free concert in West Africa. What a great answer to that question!
posted by Rock Steady at 8:23 AM on October 13, 2015 [1 favorite]


I did not find this to be a "revealing" conversation at all. How long did July speak with Rihanna? There's maybe two paragraphs worth of quotes from her in here, nor did anything indicate that they then "become best friends", which I get it is hyperbole but not sure where it's even stemming from. I thought this would be way more in-depth.
posted by windbox at 7:10 AM on October 13 [+] [!]


My impression, too. I thought it was fucking awful. She gets the opportunity to do the FIRST interview with Rihanna in a long time, and it was this short thing, not in-depth at all, and a lot of it was about Miranda July? What a wasted opportunity.
posted by jayder at 8:26 AM on October 13, 2015


Is there a word for when you miss the point as badly as it could possibly be missed?

so what is the point (please?), because i am feeling dumb.
posted by andrewcooke at 8:43 AM on October 13, 2015 [2 favorites]


This basically made me want to bang my head against the wall. I'm not at all a fan of this style of "interview" where the vast majority of the article is focused on the interviewer rather than the interviewee. Here you had an opportunity to get some insight into one of the most intriguing pop stars of this generation and instead she's essentially treated as a supporting player in an article that is supposedly about her.
posted by The Gooch at 9:55 AM on October 13, 2015 [2 favorites]


I felt the same as the Clutch magazine review. We got some interesting stuff about Rihanna, but it was mostly about Miranda July and her feelings. It was horribly self-involved and reeked of that "famous faaaaabulous Black woman" fetiworship I see from a lot of White women that comes off like a race-based variation of the 'fag hag'. It felt like she viewed Rihanna as some sort of totemic figure and July was trying to prove she was "blessed" by "friendship", rather than actually trying to engage with her like she is a fellow human being. I would love to hear an account of that entire interview in Rihanna's own words--which is ironic, because ostensibly that is what an interview is supposed to be.

I preferred the Minaj interview. The interviewer asked a disrespectful question--but admitted she was wrong and reported Minaj's fully justified anger without spinning it as some "angry Black woman" stereotype. To me that demonstrated at least genuine remorse and respect for her subject.
posted by schroedinger at 10:02 AM on October 13, 2015 [4 favorites]


Grigoriadis admitted she was wrong only in so much as she forgot herself for a moment and used the word drama as if she was talking to someone from the highly educated, affluent HBO-watching demographic, rather than someone only conversant in the "pop-culture idiom." She admits that what she said was offensive only in the sense that Minaj misunderstood what she meant. She did not admit she was wrong for treating Minaj as someone who could not set her own path, rather than only situate herself in relation to and react to the emotions of the men around her. To me, that neither reflects remorse or respect or even understanding of her subject.

In the end she implies that Minaj took advantage of holding the mic to hit "the notes that we want stars like her to address right now, particularly those of misogyny and standing up for yourself, even if it involves standing up for yourself against another woman." She casts herself as the victim of Minaj's self-interested calculations, rather than a recipient of her justified anger.
posted by nequalsone at 10:39 AM on October 13, 2015


[We've got a thread about the Minaj interview, so if anyone mainly wants to talk about that interview by itself, it'd be better to do it over there.]
posted by LobsterMitten (staff) at 10:46 AM on October 13, 2015 [1 favorite]


so what is the point (please?)

Uh, two powerful women with powerful voices meet. July then describes the encounter on her terms, in her voice. She eschews the false authority of the disinterested observer. No matter how "in-depth" an interview is, it is always a mediated description of a (usually brief) relationship. Most often this relationship is presented as observer/observed and the subject, most especially if a woman and/or POC, is there to be studied, assessed, judged & consumed. "Give us more of her, she hasn't given enough! Give us less of her, she gives too much!" Instead, July audaciously reframes the interview as "romance," acknowledges her fan-dom (something she shares with her Uber driver, and many readers), engages Rihanna as an equal, has fun, and gives us something good.
posted by generalist at 2:16 PM on October 13, 2015 [5 favorites]


It's kind of weird that this is being presented as some sort of breathless one-of-a-kind exclusive, cause it ain't.
posted by blucevalo at 2:47 PM on October 13, 2015


I think people are missing that Miranda July is equally awesome and this article is at least as interesting for her presence as it is for Rihanna's.
posted by shakespeherian at 3:38 PM on October 13, 2015 [1 favorite]


I found it both charming and revealing. July's addition of details on Rhianna's stardom in particular really struck me - especially in contrast to the Minaj interview where her actual influence was undercut.
posted by Deoridhe at 4:18 PM on October 13, 2015


To me, this is an interesting conversation between two interesting people. If Obama had spent half the piece talking about getting ready or his feelings about getting ready or patting himself on the back for becoming BFFs with Robinson and basically had no self-reflection whatsoever, then I would find it much less interesting. An interviewer walks a fine line when they write things out in a more casual, diarist format--it can humanize the writer and subject, or it can come off with one or both parties looking utterly inane. I'd say someone in the July interview looked inane, and it wasn't Rhianna.
posted by schroedinger at 9:53 PM on October 13, 2015 [1 favorite]


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