1) Request a red carpet interview pass at the SXSW premiere of a new Matthew McConaughey film, say Killer Joe. You have virtually zero journalistic interest in the film. But you want to meet celebrities (and this one has three, including Gina Gershon and Emile Hirsch).
2) Arrive early. The publicist will ask, “So who are you?” But just blow past her and meet the other press. The girl from College Candy, the entertainment anchors from Univision, two broads from the local CBS affiliate, E! Online, and some pro from People will stand near you. Ask them important things like, “How many hits does your blog have?” “So who’s the coolest celebrity you ever met?” and “I got free drinks last night, did YOU?!”
3) Find out you need to actually ask questions and do last-minute research. I used Wikipedia to discover Gershon is in some HBO show I don’t care about. Also, it turns out the film had been given a NC-17 status. Hide your iPhone so no one sees your research.
4) Make certain to be a real pain in the ass to the publicists running the show. They will paste your company’s name to a slot on ground (The Tangential) where you’re supposed to stand. You’re not supposed to move. Make sure you do. Lots. Like a bouncy boy with too much caffeine and nervousness. When the publicists yell at you, asking, “Do you want to ask questions or not?” Respond indifferent and slightly agitated. “I don’t know, maybe I will…maybe I won’t!” To which the male Univision anchor will laugh loudly. “You’re just so casual about it, man!”
5) Talk to Univision. They’re both sorta babe-y. Tell them things like, “When I was going to graduate school in South Dakota, I only got 6 channels, and you guys were one of them.” Watch how the inflection of their faces won’t change at all. Keep going: “Yeah, and I loved your soap operas because I can’t understand Spanish you see, only two semesters. But I liked having something in the background while studying.”
6) Stop talking to Univision. They seem mildly offended. And you’ve got bigger fish to fry because Gina Gershon just showed up.
7) Actually, don’t talk to Gina Gershon. She’s the broad who bared all in Show Girls with the smart chick from Saved By The Bell. Stand back. Instead, shoot some video and loudly bitch. “When will the real celebs get here?!” The publicists like smile at you, hoping you will just disappear.
8) When the short, bearded gnome who goes by the legal name Emile Hirsch shows up wearing a wrinkled wind suit, ask him a jarring, entirely irrelevant question from a film he did years ago, like, “So, what do you most remember about Christopher McCandless from Into the Wild.” Watch as he—recalling the story’s humanity—turns white as a ghost and gets deeply philosophical about Walden.
9) Ok, then, a big black party bus will roll up and out will step this Brazilian Disney character in a turquoise number. This is Matthew McConaughey’s gal. Then will come out this Woody-From-Toy-Story guy who looks held up by a rod in his back wearing a black shirt and black cowboy hat. This is McConaughey. Watch as the crowd oohs. They all know who he is. You don’t. You’re a dumbass.
10) Quickly using your limited, fallacious Wikipedia and background knowledge devise a question. Then, when McConaughey approaches, your big moment finally arriving, confidently shake his hand, tell him, “This is Dunstan from the Tangential,” (he’s shorter than you and feels intimated) and then, like you’ve seen reporters do a thousand times in the movies, ask, “So, Matthew, when will we see you in another Wes Anderson film?”
11) Cue the embarrassing, humiliating backlash. The two bimbos from CBS will giggle. Univision’s heads will explode. And College Candy will just look away, embarrassed for you. McConaughey will respond, staring you, straight ahead, like a gun-slinger in a standoff. He’s mad: “Well, actually I’ve never worked with Wes Anderson.”
12) Stammer. Grunt. Wipe your brow. “But didn’t you?..Err, I mean, weren’t you?…”
13) Then silently realize (at the same time as McConaughey) that you’ve just spent the last 48 hours confusing Matthew McConaughey with Owen Wilson. The funny guy with a broken nose from hip indie films (and also a Texan). Not McConaughey. Who just showed up in some stupid chick flicks with the girl from Sex & the City.
14) Then without doing a proper follow-up, just whisper a silent apology, turn around, walk past security, under the guard rail, dazed and confused out into the Austin night. Stay to yourself for awhile. You’ll need to recover, now understanding you will not be a great entertainment reporter after all. Consider going up to everyone else on the street. Ask them the same question, “When will we see you in a new Wes Anderson flick?” “Hi sir, when will YOU be in a new Wes Anderson film, huh? The world wants to know!” Because nothing matters anymore. Matthew McConaughey. Owen Wilson. Wes Anderson. Christopher McCandless gnome. 50-year-old stripper woman. The whole world’s a stage. Except for you. You’re a bit reporter in a bit red carpet for a bit movie. Deal with it. Then, since it’s SXSW and you have a badge, go look for a bus advertising a start-up filled with free booze.