Sunday, February 25, 2007

The 'Level' Gaze of Camille Paglia

Camille Paglia is Salon's "favorite intellectual" and one of its founding members. Hers is a high horse. In her own words, she is "a pro-choice libertarian Democrat whose platform remains the same, above all regarding educational reform." She "denounce[s] he outrageous expense, ideological indoctrination and spiritual hollowness of American higher education, with its crazed admissions rat race and juvenile brand-name snobbery." She also, if you read that section of her essay, goes onto a tedious recapitulation on her stance on Iraq. The second page of her essay is an unoriginal slog through the prospective candidates the '08 election. She can't understand the love certain progressives have/had for John McCain, guys! That's the same kind of straight-talk-that-no-one-at-this-time-would-bother-countering that we've come to expect from McCain, who just ripped into Donald Rumsfeld a convenient three months after the latter left office. None of this is a very big deal, and admittedly I'm writing this because I'm bored, but the third page of the essay is such a pedantic, eye-roll-inducing account of Anna Nicole Smith's death that I feel I must mention it. When Camille heard the news on the radio, she was at a drive-thru, and felt compelled to tell the person at the window to tell everyone else, which shocked and surprised the "all African-American" staff. When ABC's Nightline dropped a line for a comment, Camille was "far too upset to go on national TV" (!!!). AAAAAaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaahh. She also claims that "Smith had genuine talent but no place to put it."
Then, she goes into bizarre, elaborate praise of Sandra Bernhard. Well, she was great in Hudson Hawk but who wasn't?
Finally, Camille extends to conservative radio both cheers (Some of Rush Limbaugh's material has her "in stitches"!) and jeers ("Its clumsy stereotyping of Democrats...undermine[s] the intellectual credibility of conservative critique."). This kind of low-brow contrarianism reminds me of nothing so much as Diane Keaton's character in "Manhattan" who praises lavishly the awful tv show for which Woody Allen writes, and derides Ingmar Bergman films for being too on-the-nose. Edgy! Oh, and don't forget that Matt Drudge's is the only radio show that "uses AM radio for artistic mood and ambience." And no but Glenn Beck employs a melismic thumb-up-the-ass sincerity when suggesting a Muslim congressman will aid al Qaeda.
So, this irritated me two weeks ago. I look forward to her next column praising the mesmerizingly archaic sex roles of red carpet interviewers at the Oscars. What a dyke.