Is it just me, or is there something odd about Rita Ora?

[Important Note: Odd does not mean bad. Just odd. I haven't seen her do anything that makes me think she's anything but a perfectly decent human being. I also have no opinion whatsoever on her talent or music, not really having come into contact with any of it ever.]

[Important Note bis: Almost always, when I do this, what happens is my brain pops up a flag and does not bother to tell me why. Then I have to rewind and figure out what set it off. This is therefore another friendly reminder that I am not magic, and I am fully capable of fucking things up if I think about them too much. Don't take what I say as gospel -- actually look at this stuff before deciding if you agree.]

She doesn't seem to be stupid, although judging from the way she keeps putting her foot in her mouth and scrambling words she's probably more than a little nervous. (Why doesn't she reword things when it becomes apparent it's the phrasing that's getting her in trouble? Nervous people do sometimes do this, as their brains get stuck out of sheer terror, but I don't know if that's why.) She also doesn't seem to particularly dislike Fielding, but she's got him a bit confused. He's doing his normal touchy-feely thing -- especially when they get into banter about the dog, he's basically trying to soothe her into shutting the fuck up before she makes it even worse -- but she's a few seconds slow in noticing when he's winding her up over the squirrel, possibly because she's kind of trying to avoid making eye contact with anyone most of the time. She leans away from him on some occasions but not on others, and when he does touch her she doesn't react to him at all. That's rather like speaking to someone and getting not just some kind of vague not-listening 'uh-huh', but a total lack of acknowledgement that they noticed you were making talky noises.

She's not really giving go-away signals, but she's ambivalent enough that he actually gives it up as a bad job until she decides to grab his wrist while giggling at something -- but she still won't look at him when she does it. He checks himself a couple of times during the intros, particularly when reading the card over her shoulder. I suspect he cannot actually tell whether she cares that he's there. Lack of eye contact doesn't normally throw Fielding off quite that badly -- seriously, you seen Richard Ayoade in interviews? I desperately want to hug him and tell him it really will be okay -- but in this case she's giving him lack of absolutely everything else as well.

I know nothing at all about Rita Ora, but assuming that the things on YouTube are representative, she's much like this in other settings as well. She spends most of her time looking at anything but the interviewer here. Vocally, she seems not to be having any problem, but she keeps herself pulled quite closely into the chair (compare to the interviewer, who is waving her free hand around and continually looking either at Ora or into the camera), and while she does do the sort of social pat-on-the-arm thing, it's a marked contrast to the rest of her body language, and she only does it after the interviewer does, as if she's been reminded.

One of the other things YouTube churned up is this, and I'm still not quite sure what to make of it. One would think that when giving a lap dance as part of a show, she would either be playing to the guys on stage with her/vamping at the audience, or at least develop some sort of profound narcissistic interest in her own sexuality. She's... not. Either one. You can almost see her go, "I do a dance move on this line, I do another dance move, I hit my mark over here on this line, I cross the stage now, I hit my next mark..." Very odd.

Rita Ora does seem to be normal enough overall that I doubt most people would think anything of her. She'll squash up against other people for photocalls and such; she doesn't really seem to mind, per se, so much as she is not mindful of it in the way other people are. A handler may have sat her down and told her 'this is how you convey that you are a friendly person, the way you're doing it now is not being interpreted correctly'. (I don't know how she got to be in the biz -- was she on a reality show? Did it suck? Was she any different then?) The contrast just happens to be particularly noticeable when she's sat next to someone who's borrowed his general policy on physical affection from a Labrador retriever, minus the slobbering.


  1. She doesn't seem that odd, just really uncomfortable on stage, perhaps? Which is pretty weird, I suppose, for a performer.

    Things I noticed:
    At around 03:42 Noel touches her arm whilst joking about the squirrel, and she laughs but then flicks a look of disgust down at her arm, as if she was saying "ew, he touched me" in her head.

    She's also a fraction behind, like she doesn't know whether it's a joke or not, and is waiting for the other person to laugh first to confirm that it is.

    I think she's spending most of her time feeling just a little bit too far out of her depth, and she's majorly embarrassed about the dog jokes. She's laughing along but as the camera's turning away from her at about 07.44 there's a little despairing shake of her head that seems to say - "that's not what I meant".

    I think you're right about her not looking at the person she's talking to, when *she's* talking. She's looks at them when they're talking and when she's finished her sentence to see what they make of what she said but otherwise, her eyes are elsewhere.

    In terms of touching other people herself, she seems slightly uncomfortable with it, as if she'd prefer not to but does any way because it's the thing to do. How does that sit with you?

    1. Most of it is the usual sort of stuff you get out of people who are terrified on stage and are spending too much time thinking about that to relax and be personable. The really odd bit is that largely she simply doesn't react to being touched at all -- she doesn't help, she doesn't object, she just doesn't show any awareness that it's happened at all. Touch serves a communicative function between people; you can accept the message or disagree with the message or even just be scared by the message and freeze up, but almost everyone gives some response. That she doesn't strikes me as extraordinarily strange. Compounding the strangeness is that after he just decides to leave it alone, she does it to him, as if she's trying to get the interaction back, but then continues to not look at him or react to anything he does in her personal space.

      I don't imagine it's making him very comfortable. Unlike other people I've seen, Fielding does not use space and touch to jockey for social position -- he doesn't loom or hug people specifically because it annoys them and he thinks they need to lighten up. (On the rare occasions I've seen him bother, he snarks instead.) He really does not like being all over people who don't want him there. Getting no reply is sort of uninterpretable-default-no, but getting a return gesture out of the blue is please-go-back-to-doing-that. It's contradictory and baffling. And rather unfair, I think.

      I think she's probably not a very touchy-feely person, but someone has told her, either explicitly or just by repeatedly teasing her about it, that she's supposed to be. It's not the way she'd interact if left to her own devices, but she goes along with it. If she's consciously trying to keep it in mind with all the rest of the flotsam you're supposed to remember about poise and positioning when you're on TV, she's probably having a hard time juggling all of that with the part where she's required to talk.


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