The Margot Corner
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Margot Robbie’s Vanity Fair cover interview sparks outrage

Date: JULY 8, 20168:48AM

AUSTRALIA has been described as a country full of “throwback people” in a gobsmackingly patronising interview with Margot Robbie.

The Aussie actress is on the cover of the latest Vanity Fair — but it is the accompanying interview that has sparked outrage and mockery across the internet.
According to Vanity Fair contributing editor Rich Cohen, “Australia is America 50 years ago, sunny and slow, a throwback”. And we “still live and die with the plot turns of soap operas”.
Cohen’s profile of Robbie is the latest in a long list of articles by male journalists examining an attractive female celebrity in a way that suggests the woman in question should probably inquire about a restraining order on their way home from the interview.

Here is how Cohen opens his piece on Robbie:
“She is 26 and beautiful, not in that otherworldly, catwalk way but in a minor knock-around key, a blue mood, a slow dance. She is blonde but dark at the roots. She is tall but only with the help of certain shoes. She can be sexy and composed even while naked but only in character. As I said, she is from Australia. To understand her, you should think about what that means. Australia is America 50 years ago, sunny and slow, a throwback, which is why you go there for throwback people. They still live and die with the plot turns of soap operas in Melbourne and Perth, still dwell in a single mass market in Adelaide and Sydney.”
Fair dinkum, cobber. Australia: wide brown land of “throwback people”.
Cohen continues, describing his first meeting with the former Neighbours star in a New York cafe: “She wandered through the room like a second-semester freshman, finally at ease with the system. She stopped at tables along the way to talk to friends. I don’t remember what she was wearing, but it was simple, her hair combed around those painfully blue eyes. We sat in the corner. She looked at me and smiled.”

Elsewhere in the piece, Cohen describes Robbie variously as “too fresh to be pegged,” “Less being than becoming,” and “From another place, another time … A kind of lost purity, what we’ve given up for the excitement of a crass, freewheeling, sex-saturated culture.”

It’s … a lot. Those reacting to the piece online are combating Cohen’s clear Robbieboner in the best way possible: mercilessly taking the piss.

This isn’t a new phenomenon, of course: There’s a long-held tradition of male journalists writing about female celebrities with only one hand on the keyboard. Back in 2013, Esquire was widely ridiculed for publishing a Megan Fox interview in which writer Stephen Marche described her skin as “the colour the moon possesses in the thin air of northern winters.”
“The symmetry of her face, up close, is genuinely shocking. The lip on the left curves exactly the same way as the lip on the right. The eyes match exactly. The brow is in perfect balance, like a problem of logic, like a visual labyrinth. It’s not really even that beautiful. It’s closer to the sublime, a force of nature, the patterns of waves crisscrossing a lake, snow avalanching down the side of a mountain, an elaborately camouflaged butterfly. What she is is flawless. There is absolutely nothing wrong with her,” Marche wrote, as readers reached for the sick bucket.

And just last month, LA Weekly writer Art Tavana didn’t even bother to interview his subject before publishing a piece titled Sky Ferreira’s Sex Appeal Is What Pop Music Needs Right Now.
In it, he encouraged readers to pore over the singer’s Instagram account as forensically as he had done: “There isn’t a single photo of her that isn’t flawlessly, almost offensively cool. Even in the candid photo of her nude in the shower, soaking wet, she looks natural, like she’s shooting a home video, rather than being photographed by a creeper. She looks like a more cherubic Sharon Stone, icy but also sweet, like a freshly licked lollipop.”
Following protests from fans and Ferriera herself, the paper’s music editor later published an apology for the piece, saying “Tavana’s piece did cross the line. It was offensive.”
We’ll see whether Cohen’s profile is followed by a similar mea culpa.


Related: Read the interview for Vanity Fair’s august issue with Margot on the cover here.