December 7, 2006

Camille Paglia on... it's not my word.... "crotchgate."

Hey, it's mainstream media! It's Us Magazine. If it offends you, don't read on. I haven't been talking about "crotchgate," though I've noticed it, and I've thought you might want to talk about it, but it hasn't made it to the blog yet for any number of reasons. But now, Camille Paglia wants to talk about it, so... what the hell?... it feels sort of compulsory:
On how [crotchgate is] affecting feminism:

"These girls are lowering themselves to the level of backstreet floozies. It angers me because I fought a bitter fight to get feminism back on track and be pro-sex at the same time. This is degrading the entire pro-sex wing of feminism."
I love the way she thinks: 1. that she caused the whole trend, and 2. that she could start a trend and then keep it right in the ideal zone where it would benefit but not hurt women.
On how it’s affecting their reputation:

"I am completely appalled by what these young women are doing because I think that they are cheapening their own image and obliterating all sexual mystery and glamour, which are the heart of the star system."
The great stars need to maintain their grandeur. Nevertheless, there's another route, and you can get somewhere that way too. How else would Paris Hilton be anything?
On how Hollywood’s changed:

"These are women who are clearly out of control because the old studio era is over. The studio system...guided and shaped the careers of the young women who it signed up. It maximized their sexual allure by dealing it out in small doses and making sure you don’t have -- what has become here -- a situation of anarchy."
Anarchy! It's so easy. Just don't wear underpants.
On Madonna:

"Madonna was able to flash her breasts and play peek-a-boo because she is an authentic, creative artist who churns out song after song, project after project… but Britney seems like she’s lost and the career track is obliterated."
Madonna gets special privileges. She's an artist. You can tell by all the churning. Really, it's not the workaholism that makes Madonna an artist. It's the genuine creative touch (tainted as is it with untold foolishness).

As to the young celebs caught up in crotchgate.... They've grabbed your attention. They are the fixation of the whole world right now. That's something. It doesn't matter at all, really. But it's an impressive feat, however pointless.

ADDED: More here -- discussing the crotch-webtraffic connection and the "junctions of two parts or members" that is the "crotch," a term I reject, even without the "-gate."

YET MORE: Camille Paglia has been linking herself to Madonna for 16 years. I remember seeing this NYT op-ed back in 1990 (TimesSelect link). I remember talking about it then and wish I could have blogged about it at the time! So look at what Paglia said about Madonna and feminism and think about how well her "pro-sex feminism" connects to the crotchgate floozyism she now decries:
Madonna is the true feminist. She exposes the puritanism and suffocating ideology of American feminism, which is stuck in an adolescent whining mode. Madonna has taught young women to be fully female and sexual while still exercising total control over their lives. She shows girls how to be attractive, sensual, energetic, ambitious, aggressive and funny -- all at the same time....

Contemporary American feminism, which began by rejecting Freud because of his alleged sexism, has shut itself off from his ideas of ambiguity, contradiction, conflict, ambivalence. Its simplistic psychology is illustrated by the new cliche of the date-rape furor:" 'No' always means 'no'. " Will we ever graduate from the Girl Scouts? "No" has always been, and always will be, part of the dangerous, alluring courtship ritual of sex and seduction, observable even in the animal kingdom.

Madonna has a far profounder vision of sex than do the feminists. She sees both the animality and the artifice. Changing her costume style and hair color virtually every month, Madonna embodies the eternal values of beauty and pleasure. Feminism says, "No more masks." Madonna says we are nothing but masks.

Through her enormous impact on young women around the world, Madonna is the future of feminism.

44 comments:

Madison Guy said...

Camille just noticed the studio era is over? Hasn't it been about fifty years?

Joe Baby said...

Not sure if I should fisk Paglia's comments or simply laugh.

Look at what Paglia says about "The Kiss." She's simply nutty. Even teenage boys saw it as a cheap ploy, of an aging shockster bonding with the young walleyed cardboard cutout.

Why is she even comparing these two? It's like comparing puke and poop -- they're both nasty, move on.

I don't get it -- the onstage make out was great theatre but the pantyless flash was beyond the pale. Forgive me if I don't understand her scorecard.

MadisonMan said...

Should we really care what people do when they're 8 sheets to the wind and higher than a kite?

Ann Althouse said...

MM: That's a pretty harsh attack on Camille!

chickenlittle said...

Ann Althouse said: "I love the way she thinks: 1. that she caused the whole trend, and 2. that she could start a trend and then keep it right in the ideal zone where it would benefit but not hurt women."

I didn't know who Camille Paglia was so I looked her up on Wikipedia, where I learned that Andrew Sullivan was one of "her allies and supporters".

Hmmm, her attitude and style do look familiar.

Seven Machos said...

I like Camille Paglia but I think these comments ultimately come down to the generational "What's the Matter with Kids Today?" phenomenon.

Think back. Consider "Like a Virgin." Consider "Borderline." Madonna was a picture of particularly trashy goodness in her Borderline days.

Who possibly could have guessed that the semi-talented hack who sang those catchy, well-crafted pop songs would turn out to be a time-tested icon? I doubt anyone did.

So now we have Paris Hilton and Britney Spears. They, among others, are this generation's semi-talented hacks. (I'm not sure what Paris Hilton's job is, but God bless anyone who can command $100,000 for showing up a party, as she reportedly can). If they stick around long enough, they will reach icon status and long-in-the-tooth academic wits like Camille Paglia will start talking about them the way Paglia talks about Madonna now, and insulting future generations of semi-talented hacks.

There is nothing new under the sun.

Hugo Black said...

Personally, I won't believe what they're saying about Britney is true until I see some evidence of it.

Revenant said...

Paglia's way off base on this one.

Spears and Lohan are both a good two years into career death-spirals. Two years ago they were young, sexy, and at the top of their game. Today they're "Mrs. Cletus The Slack-Jawed Yokel" and "Miss Cokehead Former Child Star". If they weren't in the headlines for acting like cheap floozies they wouldn't be in the headlines at all. They're both about a jello shot away from full Tara Reid status.

Hilton, on the other hand, is a professional... er, voyeuree? The occasional "embarassing" photo just adds to her salary.

Steven said...

Crotchgate? Sounds like a locking stainless steel mesh chastity belt.

Cedarford said...

Hugo Black said...
Personally, I won't believe what they're saying about Britney is true until I see some evidence of it.


Hard to miss. Pics of Britneys waxed crotch and c-section scar are all over the Internet. Lohan's crotch shot appears to be an accident.

It's sad...there are a small pack of semi-talented or no talented
young celebrity girls that live and die..their whole career rests...on their success simply to get the publicity, get the media buzz. When it is over, they know they are yesterday's news and no comeback on talent will happen.

Crotch shots of quiet desperation.

Why can't they go to Darfur or speak out against spotted owl habitat? Well, because they would lose the paparazzi for a few days and the risk of becoming obscure is just too high...

Peg C. said...

Man, ignorance really is bliss, judging from the post and these comments. I literally don't know what this is about. I'm glad I boycott most Hollywood news. It leaves me in the dark but sometimes that's a very good thing.

Finn Kristiansen said...

Revenant makes a good point here, that Hilton cannot really be classed with the other two.

The primary task for Lohan and Spears are to act and sing, respectively, and both do so in a rather mediocre manner. That they are merely doing a modern version of what Madonna did many years back seems lost on Paglia.

Hilton, on the other hand, has no other job that she is necessarily neglecting. In fact, far from stupid, she has managed to make a nice little income stream for herself. I would imagine at some point both she and Nikki will settle down and take more active interest in their family business (or an offshoot of that business).

Lohan and Spears are wasting opportunity, Hilton is capitalizing on it, and Madonna is just, well, largely irrelevant.

pettyfog said...

'Nothing new, just the casualness..'

When I was a 13 year old around 1955, my sole exposure to porno was a picture shown at recess of starlet Terry Moore {supposed to have married Howard Hughes} posed in full skirt, sitting knees up, no panties, cameltoe.

Deeply exciting!

Now I cant be bothered to even look for Britney's pic.

Oh, I still love women.. but that kinda crap is boring.
'A bird in the hand, ya know..."

M. Simon said...

Britnet is America's Secret Weapon against Islam.

Hugo Black said...

Cedarford said "Hard to miss. Pics of Britneys waxed crotch and c-section scar are all over the Internet. Lohan's crotch shot appears to be an accident."

I must be inept. I have googled this subject ad nauseum and found no such evidence. Brittney is innocent, I say. Its all a lie!

Brian said...

Don't feel too bad, Miss Althouse, that Miss Paglia disinvited you to dinner. She never invited me at all.

Cogito said...

Was Marilyn Monroe wearing underpants in the famous subway blowing up skirt picture?

Stephen said...

Tsk-tsk. Proving once again that all Internet discussions are a race to the bottom (pun intended).

Gaius Arbo said...

This is a helping hand for Hugo Black. After a lot of searching I did find a picture of Britnet and her beaver. But I really do not understand what all the fuss is about.

http://www.utterpants.co.uk/news/britney/britbeaver.html



(And yes, that is SFW and it is meant to be funny, I've been having fun with this one since the story broke. I have a much lower sense of humor than Ann does.)

Simon said...

Brian said...
"Don't feel too bad, Miss Althouse, that Miss Paglia disinvited you to dinner. She never invited me at all."

Personally, I think I'd be more honored to have dinner with Prof. Althouse than Prof. Paglia. But perhaps that's just me.

Seven Machos said...

Speaking of Marilyn Monroe: yes, clearly the women back in those days hid their "goodies" much better. Full-on nudity of Spears is everywhere It was different with Monroe. Imagine. If some enterprising young publishing entrepreneur ever got their hands on some nude negatives of Marilyn Monroe, they'd probably have started a new upscale men's magazine and a publishing empire or some crazy thing.

knoxgirl said...

OK, who on this thread is panty-less?

Muggins said...

To Ms Althouse-

You read too much into Paglia's statements.
I sense a preset hostility in one of your comments:

- "I love the way she thinks:
- 1. that she caused the whole trend, and
- 2. that she could start a trend and then
- keep it right in the ideal zone where it
- would benefit but not hurt women."

Paglia's meaning was clear. She didn't
assume credit for the totality of the
Women's Lib Mvt., she fought for it.
Her statement holds true for all of
those who fought, and continue to fight,
that battle.

The art of living runs a precarious path.
Some have called it a knife edge.
There are pitfalls lurking in the deluge
of choices we make everyday.
It is not uncommon, or unwelcome, for
those who have insight and energy enough
to apply themselves to the study the
issues in life, to share some of that information.

It's a very general subject, of course, and
can be approached from different disciplines
and independant points of view. While I
don't agree with everything Camille puts in
print, or tells us in interviews, I do respect
her scholarship, her ability to communicate,
and her insights. I hope you aren't implying that she wasn't influential in a
valuable way in the liberation movement.
I don't fault her one bit for commenting
on behavior of celebrities who are influential
by virtue of being famous, yet lack the basic
education to act responsibly.

Anonymous said...

I don't know what a picture of someone's crotch is supposed to look like, but I've seen the rash of pics of celebs getting out of cars without underwear and they all look photoshopped to me.

John Hawkins said...

This is a helping hand for Hugo Black. After a lot of searching I did find a picture of Britnet and her beaver. But I really do not understand what all the fuss is about.

Gaius, I believe the hubub was due to rumor that said beaver had been shaved for the sole purpose of public display.

PETA was, naturally, quite upset by this alleged animal cruelty.

I'm glad to see the rumors were simply vile gossip, and that the creature is unharmed.

Joe Baby said...

on behavior of celebrities who are influential
by virtue of being famous, yet lack the basic
education to act responsibly


Yet Paglia isn't really calling for this. I don't think she minds irresponsibility, so long as it is "authentic."

Seven Machos said...

I hate it
when
blog commenters
write
in verse.
Is it necessary?

S said...

I think Paglia is looking for a controlled flooziness. These starlets seem to lack control. The word "lost" for Spears is le mot juste; she dominated the power-bubblegum world before she was 20. She seemed to get sick of it, and ask, "where do I go from here?" and she hasn't found a good answer.

I find Paglia amusing; I might enjoy having dinner with her, but I'd hate to be stuck on a deserted island with her. With Althouse, either one would be okay.

Seven Machos said...

Althouse and Paglia are marooned on a desert island together. Discuss.

Stephen_M said...

Althouse and Paglia are marooned on a desert island together. Discuss.
It is quickly established that Camille's is bigger.
The tedium grinds on.

AST said...

Paglia has jumped the shark. She used the shock technique to gain her own celebrity, but now she sounds like just another conservative scold.

I agree with her comments, but they've all been said before. I think first by Gypsy Rose Lee.

What's next, photos of celebrity gynecological exams? Photos of Britney's cervix, anyone?

el presidente said...

Britney, Paris, and Lindsay--The Three Disgraces

Ann Althouse said...

AST: "What's next, photos of celebrity gynecological exams? Photos of Britney's cervix, anyone?"

You need to watch the movie "Slacker"... the part about Madonna's pap smear.

AllenS said...

"a picture of Britnet and her beaver"

If there's no hair on it, can it still be a beaver?

Sissy Willis said...

Britney's crotch is great for your stats!

Sissy Willis said...

What happened to that link?

Pogo said...

Re: "...a bitter fight to get feminism back on track and be pro-sex at the same time"

It's time Ms. Paglia learned that the "pro-sex" part necessarily entails a reductio ad absurdum, where Madonna in a bustier is inevitably followed by Paris in flagrante delicto and no-smalls Britney. The next step is intercourse in the yard, like dogs.

What Paglia never noticed was that this was precisely "Man's plan for women." Congratulations!

Ann Althouse said...

AllenS has posed a Koan. My answer is: No, it's now a naked mole rat.

Joe said...

Camille is like the professor who tells her students to ask hard questions and then is shocked when they actually do.

Rowena Hullfire said...

Studio era good? Didn't the actors pretty much consider themselves slaves on the plantation? That's supposed to be better?

Well, advocate for greater sexual freedom for women and then act like a prude when it happens. Perhaps these vulvas in Volvos are perfectly liberated from the prudity of Victorian minded Paglias.

When you open Pandora's box, don't be surprised to see Pandora's box.

These pop tarts can shake their money makers all they want/feel the need to. They are all sad cases. I think that junkie Kate Moss is less pitiful.

LarryK said...

Seven Machos said

If they stick around long enough, they will reach icon status and long-in-the-tooth academic wits like Camille Paglia will start talking about them the way Paglia talks about Madonna now, and insulting future generations of semi-talented hacks.

There is nothing new under the sun.

Reminds me of a quote by Samuel Fuller, who was a mostly B movie director who got discovered near the end of his career after Martin Scorsese and others said how influential he was. When asked about how it felt to finally be getting recognition, he said "It's like old buildings and whores. You stick around long enough, you get respectable."

Daryl Herbert said...

Their real sin was that they displayed their genitals in a way that made viewers queasy instead of causing them to appreciate the female form.

Also there's that word "glamour"--which is in the eye of the beholder. If public reaction to their displays was positive, Paglia would be in favor?

Anonymous said...

Well, someone should play Professor Paglia the commentary track she did for Basic Instinct where she went near orgasmic over Sharon Stone flashing her cooch.

Now, why doesn't Camille stop taking these fluff calls and get volume two of Sexual Personae finished before I'm too old to pick it up, let alone read it?

Super-Amanda said...

This is very sad to read because what Camille Paglia and you fail to realize is that Madonna is the foreunner of raunch culture and has influenced Paris, Britney and all the other younger girls who Camille deems 'floozies."
Do you hate hardcore porn being brought to your 9 year old daughter by the media? Blame Madonna, who had nowhere to go but Skanktown and the media who made it rewardable. Ciccone has very little sheer talent-she is a poor actress and her singing voice-to say nothing of her wretchedly insincere speaking voice-is one of the weakest in the entire industry.
Madonna really made it by being the first media generated supe star; trashy, nasty to her fellow female performer (until she was too haggard and old to get away with it as often) and courting stylists, trainers and designers instead of working on her craft but most importantly the media has always seen her as a scared cow-be trashy, be vulgar and we will keep you famous,on magazine covers (has Beyonce ever had a Vanity fair cover?) loved AND respected they say. Thus her spawn followed suit.
Camille Paglia knows Madonna will never be a true glorious sex symbol, like Monroe, Ekberg or June Wilkinson and that she always cared more about money and appearance than sex but Camille still champions her because Madonna has the Catholic Church oozing out of ever pore and is an example of what the short, thick waisted, smaller breasted average Catholic woman with 'exploit my dead Mommy angst' can do. Camille sees and defends herself.
I for one like classy, talented well endowed women like Sophia Loren, Nigella Lawson, Kate Donovan, Super Amanda, and Kelly Brook who have class, mystery and vibrance and who have awesome bodies that they have not destroyed with exercise bulimia. Women like these have other stuff going on-like sex, sensuality and beauty!
Madonna: Camille's dream and Queen of the Wasted Faces and sweat shop labor HMS track suit lifestyle.