Support 100 years of independent journalism.

  1. Culture
17 March 2017updated 29 Jul 2021 9:57pm

This Selena Gomez interview with Vogue will make you feel very, very uncomfortable

Why do I feel like this guy is smoking a pipe right now?

By Anna Leszkiewicz

Older men writing creepy profiles of extremely beautiful 20-somethings are nothing new – in fact, they come around with a terrifying regularity. But some are creepier than others, prompting prose bizarre enough to make headlines of its own. (Remember Vanity Fair’s insane Margot Robbie profile?)

The latest victim of a leering fashion magazine cover interview is Selena Gomez, who is the star of American Vogue for April 2017. As Jezebel notes, the story “Reduces Selena Gomez to a Fragile Archetype”, infantilising, pathologising and sexualising her all at once. Come, friend, and take a journey with me through this strange and uncomfortable profile.

Rob Haskell starts his interview by telling us all about a fun joke he made that made Selena Gomez laugh:

She responds with the booming battle-ax laugh that offers a foretaste of Gomez’s many enchanting incongruities.

Leaving aside the use of the word “battle-ax” (and its questionable spelling), let us note that it is seems to surprise Haskell that adult woman Selena Gomez has an adult woman’s laugh, presumably because he expects her to have the “rapturous giggles” of the children in “pretty dresses” he later describes. 

Select and enter your email address Quick and essential guide to domestic and global politics from the New Statesman's politics team. A weekly newsletter helping you fit together the pieces of the global economic slowdown. The New Statesman’s global affairs newsletter, every Monday and Friday. The best of the New Statesman, delivered to your inbox every weekday morning. The New Statesman’s weekly environment email on the politics, business and culture of the climate and nature crises - in your inbox every Thursday. Our weekly culture newsletter – from books and art to pop culture and memes – sent every Friday. A weekly round-up of some of the best articles featured in the most recent issue of the New Statesman, sent each Saturday. A newsletter showcasing the finest writing from the ideas section and the NS archive, covering political ideas, philosophy, criticism and intellectual history - sent every Wednesday. Sign up to receive information regarding NS events, subscription offers & product updates.
  • Administration / Office
  • Arts and Culture
  • Board Member
  • Business / Corporate Services
  • Client / Customer Services
  • Communications
  • Construction, Works, Engineering
  • Education, Curriculum and Teaching
  • Environment, Conservation and NRM
  • Facility / Grounds Management and Maintenance
  • Finance Management
  • Health - Medical and Nursing Management
  • HR, Training and Organisational Development
  • Information and Communications Technology
  • Information Services, Statistics, Records, Archives
  • Infrastructure Management - Transport, Utilities
  • Legal Officers and Practitioners
  • Librarians and Library Management
  • Management
  • Marketing
  • OH&S, Risk Management
  • Operations Management
  • Planning, Policy, Strategy
  • Printing, Design, Publishing, Web
  • Projects, Programs and Advisors
  • Property, Assets and Fleet Management
  • Public Relations and Media
  • Purchasing and Procurement
  • Quality Management
  • Science and Technical Research and Development
  • Security and Law Enforcement
  • Service Delivery
  • Sport and Recreation
  • Travel, Accommodation, Tourism
  • Wellbeing, Community / Social Services
I consent to New Statesman Media Group collecting my details provided via this form in accordance with the Privacy Policy
THANK YOU

If you are over 30 and find yourself somewhat mystified by Gomez’s fame […] watch the video for “The Heart Wants What It Wants.” (You will be late to the party; it received more than nine million views in the first 24 hours following its release.) Before the music begins, we hear Gomez’s voice as if from a recorded psychotherapy session, ruminating over a betrayal. “Feeling so confident, feeling so great about myself,” she says, her voice breaking, “and then it’d just be completely shattered by one thing. By something so stupid.” Sobs. “But then you make me feel crazy. You make me feel like it’s my fault.” Is this acting? Is it a HIPAA violation? Either way, there is magic in the way it makes you feel as if you’ve just shared in her suffering. Pay dirt for a Selenator.

Content from our partners
How industry is key for net zero
How to ensure net zero brings good growth and green jobs
Flooding is a major risk for our homes

This paragraph makes international pop sensation Selena Gomez sound like a begging Edwardian orphan who has somehow managed to make a multi-million dollar empire out of your pity.

As I slip an apron over her mane of chocolate-brown hair, for which Pantene has paid her millions, and tie it around her tiny waist, I wonder whether her legions have felt for years the same sharp pang of protectiveness that I’m feeling at present.

Where do we begin? The simultaneously paternalistic and oddly predatory tone? The fetishistic fixation on her body? The asides continuing to suggest that Gomez is more model than pop star?

The paragraph continues…

Even as she projects strength and self-assuredness, Gomez is not stingy with frailty. “I’ve cried onstage more times than I can count, and I’m not a cute crier,” she says. Last summer, after the North American and Asian legs of her “Revival” tour, with more than 30 concerts remaining, she abruptly shut things down and checked into a psychiatric facility in Tennessee.

We’re making a connection between thinness and “frailty” (am I in a Gothic novel?) and a mental health crisis in just three sentences. I feel dizzy.

“The Heart Wants What It Wants,” a ballad about loving a guy she knows is bad news. The title derives from a letter written by Emily Dickinson, though Woody Allen reintroduced the phrase when he used it to describe his relationship with Soon-Yi Previn.

Who thought it would be a good idea to shove in a Woody Allen/Soon-Yi reference in an article that simultaneously infantilises and sexualises its subject? WHO.

On August 15, Gomez uploaded a photo of almost baroque drama: her body collapsed on the stage, bathed in beatific light. Whether this was agony or ecstasy, it drew more than a million comments from fans.

You know that feeling when you go to an art gallery, and look at all the almost pre-pubescent nudes of blonde white girls with sad faces and skinny bodies and think, “Wow, dudes have been perving over these pictures for centuries and calling it art appreciation?” Yeah, that. Also: why do I imagine this guy is smoking a pipe?

In the tearoom at the Peninsula Beverly Hills hotel, little girls in pinafores and pink high-tops sit on heavily tasseled sofas and drink sparkling apple juice out of champagne flutes.

Let’s not talk about little girls any more. Please.

Doll-like and startled in pictures but almost breathtakingly at ease in person, Gomez was once described by her good friend Taylor Swift as “both 40 years old and seven years old”.

A sentence that starts by describing Gomez as “doll-like”, pauses to call her “breathtaking”, and ends by referring to her as “seven years old”. Well, I feel uncomfortable. Let’s go home.