Friday, June 27, 2014

Post 2700 - A Moment Of Reason

Welcome to post $2700, my friends!

I have to get something off my chest. This week actor Gary Oldman has been excoriated in the press because of comments he allegedly made in a magazine that were perceived as anti-Semetic. He has been going around apologizing to anybody who would listen. I keep expecting a call

I don't think he has to do this. Not call me, but not be apologizing at all.

There is blame to go around here. I would want to hear the full taped interview as an audio file and hear what he truly said. Only in examining his comments in full context can you get a clear picture of what he actually said and the way he meant it to be said.

I have been doing these interviews for years now. I have had to teach myself how to do interviews as well as how to edit and transcribe. It is not easy. People do not speak in full sentences. They start with one thought and flit to another and then another before returning to the original thread. As a transcriber, I have to find away to produce a lucent and cogent and understandable interview, one that has some kind of natural flow. To do that, I have to cut out what I call "false starts". In the event of a person jumping around from topic to topic, I have stuck with one thought and then move the other information to another section. This is all in an effort  to produce something that reads well. I am not putting these people down because I know a couple of them, but I am not a court reporter. They have to produce every grunt and fart. Meanwhile, I have to think of the reader and I have to think of what my subject was intending to say.

I am unique in that I can make the interviews as long as necessary. I am not constrained by things like column inches or word lengths or anything like that. I have published interviews that, if printed out, would be 55 or 60 pages. When I have dinner with Courtney Amirault on Monday to go over her interview with me prior to publishing the thing, we will have to sort through some 16000 words, about 47 pages of text. If a reader decided to, he could take any of her comments out of context and she would be in a similar puddle of poo that others find themselves in.

In magazines that publish long interviews, like Playboy and Vanity Fair and the Comics Journal and a very few others, they still have those constraints. The interviewer is told to deliver a product that is X words long. He will do so by taking the transcribed text that he produced using the methods I described above and edit and chip away at it until it is the best interview he can put out there given the number of words he has to play with. Then, he submits the typescript to his editor who gets out his blue pencil (or whatever they use these days to edit something) and hone it some more, with or without the writer's participation. Probably without.

It is sent off to the lawyer's to see if there is anything libellous in the final product. Then it is prepared for publication. By the time the issue hits the stands, or the web, the speaker's words have been transcribed and edited and processed and moved around and edited some more and perhaps partiall redacted. Many people have stepped between what the speaker said, and what the public gets to see.

Which makes what Gary Oldman is going through all the more difficult to watch. What he said about Mel Gibson could have been perfectly reasonable and well thought out, but by the time it has gone through the processes I just listed, he may have been just as surprised but what he "said" as the Jewish Anti-Defamation League was upset.

I am not sure where I am going with this. I guess it is that having done this job for several years now, I can certainly empathize with anyone who feels his words have been taken out of context. I just wish that the people who take all that umbrage would take a moment, and a deep breath, and realize that what the person said is perhaps not what was published. If they are truly that upset, demand to hear the audio files and then see if Oldman really meant, and said the things he is charged with having stated. If he really did, then be pissed off, but not before.

Make sense? I hope so.

See you tomorrow.


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