Tony Grist (poliphilo) wrote,
Tony Grist

"Basically, You're Crap- You've Said So Yourself- So Why Don't You Just Pack It All In?..."

Here are clips (see last post) of Russell Harty interviewing the young David Bowie and being breathtakingly rude to him. It wouldn't happen today. A contemporary Harty would be out of a job if he tried it. Production companies and- indeed- the stars themselves- have legions of lawyers and PR folk on hand to make sure things stay nice and anodyne or else. I don't watch much showbiz TV- but when I do (the BBC's early evening One Show is something I sometimes catch) the interviews are conducted in an atmosphere of mutual frottage with the stars allowed carte blanche to plug whatever rubbish it is they're selling. Questions like Harty's "You've said you're not a very good musician so why are you coming back to the UK?" would never be allowed.

On the one hand Russell's hostility seems disproportionate; this is an entertainer he's talking to not the Chancellor of the Exchequer or a Third World Dictator. On the other I know which approach makes for livelier viewing. If art matters- as it does- as Bowie's did- it deserves to be interrogated with rigour. Harty may have detested Bowie (which is how it seems) but the bashing he hands out is a back-handed compliment. He's acknowledging Bowie as an opponent worthy of his cudgel.
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