ETA: I should also link to this follow-up, wherein Gilmour responds to the criticism of his comments. I’ve done interviews before where my verbal comments were rephrased or edited in ways that distorted their meaning. On the other hand, the apology (which he says he normally wouldn’t give, but he’s got a book coming out) and his other comments … well, it still doesn’t feel like he gets it. But you should read his response and decide for yourself.
I stared at this author interview – David Gilmour On Building Strong Stomachs – for a long time before conceding defeat. I had been planning to write a satirical send-up of his interview, but nothing I could come up with came close to the things this award-winning novelist and professor actually said.
Let’s start with one of his introductory comments.
“I’m a natural teacher, I was trained in television for many years. I know how to talk to a camera, therefore I know how to talk to a room of students. It’s the same thing.”
Okay, I totally get this. I mean, I don’t like to brag, but I’m a natural sniper. I know how to hit the bowl when I take a piss, therefore I know how to take out an enemy soldier from three hundred yards. It’s the same thing.
“I teach modern short fiction to third and first-year students. So I teach mostly Russian and American authors … I can only teach stuff I love.”
Have I ever told you about my other day job? Oh yeah. I’m a professional hairstylist. So I only give people mullets and 70s pornstaches. I can only cut the styles I love.
“I’m not interested in teaching books by women … What I teach is guys. Serious heterosexual guys. F. Scott Fitzgerald, Chekhov, Tolstoy. Real guy-guys. Henry Miller. Philip Roth.”
I WANT YOU ALL TO KNOW THAT I’M VERY, VERY HETEROSEXUAL. NOT BECAUSE I’M COMPENSATING FOR ANYTHING, BUT BECAUSE GIRLS WRITE YUCKY STUFF!
(ALSO, TOTALLY NOT COMPENSATING, BUT I HAVE AN ENORMOUS PENIS! A REAL PENIS-PENIS.)
“There’s an even dirtier one that I teach, by Philip Roth, called The Dying Animal … There are men eating menstrual pads, and by the time my students get to that they’re ready. Roth has the best understanding of middle-aged sexuality I’ve ever come across.”
Speaking as a man who will be turning 40 next year, I am absolutely terrified about what looms ahead for me and my middle-aged sexuality.
Alternate response: Weirdest. Diet plan. Ever.
“I teach only the best.”
I.e., “Look, I don’t want to generalize, but women and gay men are no good at anything.”
What gets me is that so much of what Gilmour says is the same crap we hear all the time. Gilmour turns it up to eleven, but the underlying sentiment is the same. “I only read stories I love. I don’t judge by sex or race or anything else.” Sure, I never stray outside of my white, male, American comfort zone, but it’s not like I’m racist or sexist!
I know Gilmour’s an easy target with this interview. But he’s not saying anything plenty of other people don’t believe, even if they’re not as obnoxiously blunt about it. And that’s disturbing as hell.