GQ editor Dylan Jones must be congratulated on the glossy magazine stunt of the season – getting Naomi Campbell to interview Venezuela’s “swaggering” President Hugo Chávez for the February edition.
It generates a news line – “Bush wants me dead” – even if Chávez says this to anyone vertical, even to his cleaners, if he notices them at all as he struts about his Mirafflores Palace, Caracas.
The interview itself is almost entirely dull (ie devoid of life and truth); it adopts the usual Q & A format that enables the interviewer to cream the journalistic glamour of interrogation while leaving the spade work to some runaround transcriber. It’s an interview not designed to be read, just swooned over as a witty marriage of supermodel and big-mouth El Presidente. He is not pressured or embarrassed with one searching question. Naomi arse-licks fabulously and is rewarded towards the end with a bit of flirtation and a “joke” told by Chávez intended to demonstrate his sense of humour but fails because it goes on and on like this sentence.
In the hands of a deft writer this would have been used to subversive effect; but in a Q & A it just lies there like a damp beach towel along with all the other damp beach towels.
It would have been wittier had GQ persuaded Chávez to interview Naomi about her appalling repeat employee abuse record – how she physically and verbally assaults her maids, throws mobiles at their heads and tears up their passports if they fail to bag her farts. Perhaps Dylan sensed, as his eyelids fluttered over the US-bashing copy, that he’d better counterbalance Chávez’s unchallenged claims and assertions with a little piece of his own – so gives a learned lecture on Bolivarianism and how Chávez has subverted once autonomous institutions.
Plonked in the middle of the Campbell/Chávez wasteland it cannot fail to be seen as rather patronising – as if to say: Hey! We’ve had a laugh, now let’s be serious, chaps. But that’s the editor’s prerogative.