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Great Big Sea's Alan Doyle (Anthony Jenkins/The Globe and Mail)
Great Big Sea's Alan Doyle (Anthony Jenkins/The Globe and Mail)


Great Big Sea’s Alan Doyle on ogling Add to ...

Singer-songwriter Alan Doyle is front man for Great Big Sea. His new solo CD is Boy on Bridge . He will be performing at the Capitol Theatre in Moncton on June 8; at Casino Nova Scotia in Halifax on June 9; at Club One in St. John’s on June 10; and at Ottawa Bluesfest on July 4.

Do you ogle?

I don’t think of myself as an ogler. I’m simply a traveller and a people-watcher.

One of my favourite things, when I’m in a new city, is to watch on a busy street corner as people go from place to place and figure out where everyone is going and what they are doing in their lives. People-watching is an amazing thing.

I’m a man, you’re a man and half the people out there are women. Some are very attractive. We look. Isn’t that ogling?

I find when I’m out and about, especially in new places, I look at everyone. I look at men. I look at women. I look at people and their pets. I suppose I use my good common sense. If I’m being rude, I think, like most Canadians, I know where that line is. I wouldn’t people-watch if I was making someone uncomfortable.

I’m trying to get at the political incorrectness – or not – of merely admiring the opposite sex. Men look at women, women look at men; not overtly so, not leering or commenting, simply looking. Is that act, that verb, “to ogle,” an offensive one?

I suppose the answer to that lies in the ogler or the person being ogled. You’d have to ask them. The whole notion that there are certain times when gals, or guys, know that someone is looking at them and finding them attractive and it is a pleasant thing. A sort of mutual relationship exists between those two people. Then, other times, someone is being looked at and they don’t particularly enjoy that. People have a responsibility to recognize that and be respectful.

Is there any East Coast word for “ogle” that I wouldn’t know?

We’d probably just say, “Havin’ a look around …”

Men look at women. It is a natural biological urge whether one is 14 or 94. Some are of the opinion that the urge objectifies and should not be indulged. Is that the purview of the thought police?

I can’t speak for anybody else. When I’m out in public, my eyes are wide open. I can’t help it. I look at some people because they are interesting looking, at other people because they are really busy, at other people because they are really attractive. I look at other people because they are really crazy looking. That is what it means to be “in public.” If you are a person that doesn’t want to be looked at, at all, you probably should reconsider walking down the main street.

This is a dilemma. The answer is in the relationship between those two strangers. I can’t stress this enough: If you are some guy or some gal looking at some guy or some gal, and you know the person who is at the end of your gaze is uncomfortable, you have a responsibility to stop doing it.

On stage, do you feel – and begrudge – being ogled, even objectified?

Whoa! That’s rock ‘n’ roll. That’s different.

I look into the audience when I’m playing a concert. I primarily occupying myself to look if people are smiling, if people are enjoying themselves. Much of the rest of my mind is occupied with playing and singing properly. If you are a musician or a politician or an actor, you are always kind of objectified in a way, it’s the nature of the business.

Do women dress for women, do women dress for men or do women dress for themselves?

I don’t have a clue. You’d have to ask a lady. I have long since given up trying to understand a woman’s mind. I just appreciate it. Whatever is comfortable for them. What I find most appealing and most attractive is someone who looks really comfortable.

Maybe we are making a mountain out of a mole hill. Is ogling a big problem? Maybe I’m totally naive, but I feel I live in a pretty good society where most men and most women know when they are making someone uncomfortable. If you are ogling and you consciously know that they are unhappy with it and don’t correct your behaviour, then you are a creep.

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