When did “73 Questions” get so boring? The Vogue series has been around for almost seven years now and today, fittingly, posted its 73rd entry: a supersized 18-minute video with Adele in which she proclaims that the Spice Girls are better than The Beatles.
Unfortunately, while watching this video I came to the grim realization that I was not enjoying myself. Something was off. Joe Sabia — creator and director of the series, perhaps best known as the disembodied voice asking white women what their “spirit animal” is — asks the singer questions like “When are we going to see you next live or on tour?” and “What was the scariest thing about performing live on SNL?” and “Which recording would you say challenged you the most?” Enough about work!
This is not the “73 Questions” that I and the rest of the world fell in love with. The questions in recent videos are longer, Sabia’s pace is slower, and the questions regularly focus on whatever project the subject is promoting at the moment. Obviously I understand that these videos have always been promotional, but there used to be a mildly chaotic energy both to Sabia’s questions and the celebrity’s answers that proved to actually reveal something about the subject.
Take, for example, Victoria Beckham’s 2015 entry. It is the high water mark for the series. Here are two sample exchanges:
Vogue: What is one thing in this world that we need to get rid of?
Beckham, without skipping a beat: AIDS.
Vogue: What is the definition of misery?
Beckham: Kathy Bates.
I now know everything I need to know about Victoria Beckham.
In September, Kylie Jenner stepped in front of the “73 Questions” camera for what is maybe the most boring episode yet. She stands still for extended periods of time, answers several questions about Kylie Lip Kits and the upcoming Kylie Baby brand, and reveals absolutely nothing interesting about herself (except for the disturbing factoid that her 3-year-old daughter, Stormi, picks out which car her mother will drive for the day each morning).
Compare that black hole of charisma with videos from years past, wherein Michael B. Jordan states that his favorite Meryl Streep performance is Death Becomes Her, Sarah Jessica Parker says that the person she most wants to have coffee with is David Remnick, Donatella Versace says that the “best film ever made” is The Shape of Water, Nicole Kidman calls the weather app her “favorite app,” and Taylor Swift reveals that her favorite cocktail is a vodka Diet Coke.
You might argue that all those videos feature people more captivating than Jenner, but Adele? No, somewhere along the line — probably as they became more successful — these videos have gotten notably worse. They’ve always been used as promo for Vogue covers and various celebrity projects, but the magic has simply died.
The decline in quality is a true shame. Not just for us the viewers, but for the stars themselves. I dare you to watch Beckham’s video and not immediately become endeared to her. Before they got bad, “73 Questions” was one of the best ways to separate the wheat from the chaff in terms of which celebrities had something interesting, or at least weird, to say. Not all of them were good (sorry, Emma Stone), but even the bad ones revealed something.
But the great thing about a flop era is that you can emerge from it like a phoenix from the ashes. “73 Questions” could be good again if they focused less on the professional endeavors of its subjects, picked up the pace a little bit, and started asking the important questions again. Namely, what’s your favorite flavor? Beckham’s answer? “Salt.”