Million Dollar, Buck Naked Baby

P.S. I Love You

What’s wrong with the above picture? Give up? Hilary Swank is in bed and wearing clothes. Chris Neumer investigates Swank’s revealing statement that she walks around her boyfriend’s six year old son naked and wonders whether interviewer Joanna Coles could have handled the matter any worse than she did.

by Chris Neumer

I spent at least two minutes debating about whether actress Hilary Swank’s admission to Marie Clare magazine that she walks around naked in front of her boyfriend’s son merited more than simply a quote of the week. As was the case with the stellar “typical Steve stuff” quote, Swank’s quote would have worked on its own, but I wanted to give it little more exposition to give it the right perspective – and also needed to do so in order to chastise the interviewer, Marie-Claire’s editor Joanna Coles, for immediately moving forward the second Swank stopped talking.

While doing press for her new movie Amelia, Swank dropped this line on the public during her interview with Coles: “My boyfriend’s son is 6 years old, and you wonder at what age you should stop walking around nude. Every morning he comes into the bedroom, and you’re just nude. But he doesn’t look twice; he doesn’t think about it yet. I just toss and turn too much when I sleep, and if I’m in clothes, I get all twisted up.”

For starters, let me say that I’m not here to say that this behavior of Swank’s is right or wrong. I can understand both sides of the argument. One’s own naked body isn’t sexual and is natural. On the other hand, having a six-year old boy constantly see his dad’s girlfriend naked seems like it might have some issues of its own. If it was me, I’d sleep in some form fitting underwear, that new Speedo swimsuit or lock the door, but that’s just me and I’m afraid that, down the road, someone will see me hugging my own kids and report me for lewd and inappropriate behavior. But Swank is fine with constantly have her boyfriend’s son her naked in the morning. Apparently, so is her boyfriend (and agent), John Campisi.

The quote is generating a lot of buzz online; if you have some time on your hands, I highly recommend reading the comments pages on both the huffingtonpost.com article and the starpulse.com stories on the matter.* They are far more entertaining than the article itself.

* Apropos of nothing, my favorite comment was the almost unintelligible response from AriAnA, which read: “wtfrizzards o hell no gurl u nasty, fo real wtf das str8 up grose if i was his mother id whoop ur azz ,gosh “hillary skank”respect him yo damn” When I saw that AriAnA had spelled “mother” correctly, I actually wondered whether it was a typo. Yup, this is where we are in American society at present.

The one thing that no one is mentioning though is Coles’ response to Swank’s statement that she A) sleeps naked and B) has no problem with her boyfriend’s six year old getting an eyeful of her lady bits each and every morning. This is the truly disturbing part of this whole affair. As soon as Swank finished her “uh – okay…” statement, Coles responded by saying, “Another myth: Considering you have two Oscars, there is the assumption that you can get any role you want.”

That’s it?!?!

Really? “Another myth: Considering you have two Oscars, there is the assumption that you can get any role you want.” That’s your response to one of the most unusual personal revelations an Oscar winning actress has given the media in years? The journalistic equivalent of “Let’s move along, nothing to see here. Please disperse.”

It isn’t often that interviewers are presented with opportunities like these. Most actors are very guarded with their statements and wouldn’t ever let something like the fact that they sleep naked out, let alone the fact that they are naked in the morning when their boyfriend’s kid comes running into their bedroom. Talk about dropping the ball. The mind boggles as to what kind of response Coles would have had had Swank divulged any other information.

HILARY SWANK: Funny you should mention that. Once when I was preparing for my role in The Necklace, I strangled a homeless man with my bare hands. I wanted to experience what it feels like to kill someone first hand. I tried it first on a couple of cats, but it just wasn’t the same thing. I finally saw a homeless guy standing by the Sunset exit of the 405 and followed him back to his tunnel. As soon as he lay down, I throttled him. I starred into his eyes as I choked the life out of him and kind of felt like I saw God at that moment.

JOANNA COLES: Now you co-starred opposite Richard Gere in Amelia. What was that like?

When I was interviewing Elliot Gould, he casually mentioned that to him, “yes” and “no” meant the same thing. My first thought was that it was probably good that he wasn’t doing a lot of dating. My second thought was to ask him just what the hell he was talking about. I mean, when someone tells you that “for me, yes and no are the same thing,” it should generate a follow-up question at the very least. I asked Gould to shine some light on how they were the same thing to him and, believe it or not, he did; he explained in his own unique way that both “yes” and “no” were “just an end to get on with life.” In short, both “yes” and “no” were answers that enabled Gould to move forward in his life.

When you think about it, this is pretty interesting; at worst, it’s a very unusual perspective on a very commonplace event. And it was all came about because I asked Gould to explain himself further. I didn’t simply nod my head and say, “Uh huh,” when he mentioned that “yes” and “no” meant the same thing to him. Suffice it to say, Coles and I differ in this respect. Of course, this is something that rips at the heart of the new entertainment journalism: quality over quantity. Coles wanted Swank’s very brief opinions on a multitude of topics, regardless of whether anything Swank said might have normally suggested that Coles ask some follow-up questions. I want to talk about three topics in great depth. As such, I’d have stuck with Swank on her decision to sleep naked in front of her kids for a while longer; well, let’s be honest, I probably wouldn’t have ever gotten onto the topic in the first place because I wouldn’t have ever asked her what she slept in.**

** Several years ago, I was told a very funny story about actor Cary Grant. While he was walking down the red carpet at a film premiere someone asked him what he wore to bed. Without batting an eye, Grant responded, “My wife.” Now that’s how to answer stupid questions!

I understand that, as an interviewer, you can’t come right out and tell your subject that Gary Busey has delivered more lucid statements that whatever you just heard, but there are certainly ways that you can continue talking about hot-button issues without specifically calling out the celebrity in question. With Swank, even something as trivial as, “Really?” or making a joke like, “Have you tried spandex?” would have propelled the conversation forward. Sadly, in the book of Coles, so did switching the subject and talking about myths that don’t exist.

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