Tuesday, April 26, 2005

Camille Paglia is the epitome of hypocritical vapidity

Camille Paglia was on campus this evening, and I'm sorry to say that I wasted 90 minutes of my life listening to her diatribe. She's got an original voice, that's for sure, and she's talking now about how the left is to blame for all of the troubles of the world.

The main problem with Ms. Paglia is that she wants to take on all these problems of the world, but refuses to listen to the answers of anyone who actually has a Ph.D. and teaches at an institution of higher learning. She's the ultimate self-hating leftist: she blames the failure of the left not on the right, but on the left itself.

Her newest book is all about poetry and the poor state of the arts, which (like the left) has supposedly been undone by secular humanism (sound Ratzingerian to you?!) and needs to find "emotional resonance" to recapture its value in society.

I can't go into detail how many hyprocritical and absurd contradictions there are in Paglia's argument, so I'll elucidate just one. Paglia championed the movie Lawrence of Arabia and the era of 1960s filmmaking, and went on for a bit about the media in a post-9/11 world. I asked her how she felt that such a movie, which makes a hero of a British colonialist in a Muslim milieu, would speak to the post-9/11 world. I told her that while the films of the 1960s may have been great, they were also forms of social control. There were no gay people in those films, and the only people who really agree with her critique on modern society are those who want a return to hegemonic Protestant values in art, like Charles Murray.

A stunned audience (which, unfortunately for Ms. Paglia, I recognized from many of my gender studies classes) was told that "It doesn't matter that there aren't any gay people or black people or women in these films. That's the worst form of identity politics." She went on to note that no gay author since Stonewall has produced anything of quality; only those who came about in the era of oppression--she likes Tennessee Williams and deifies Oscar Wilde--truly produced great works.

That may be so, but Paglia hasn't read so far in Oscar Wilde's works to recognize that the man ended up in jail for being gay. Paglia champions pop culture without recognizing or admitting that there are forces that shape pop culture, and often not in ways that would preseve the leftism that Ms. Paglia values. She's so caught upin her own critique that she's far behind even the social conservatives, who are post-modern enough to understand that the war over discourse is a real and powerful one, with important consequences.

Paglia hates "snarky" writers, she says, and called Maureen Dowd an "intellectual midget." Thing is, Ms. Paglia, the only applause you got tonight was from your snarky comments about other people. And your books, in all their profligate copies, contain less intellectual content than even one of Ms. Dowd's better columns.

Get real, Camille Paglia. Go read some history, and go join the GOP.


Anonymous said...

It doesn't matter that there aren't any gay people or black people or women in these films. That's the worst form of identity politics."

And you know what she is right! Great art is still great art no matter how is in it. Art reflects the times too, eh ever thought of that? Just because times change doesn't mean the art is any less validate. Don't be so bitchy about, christ.

Anonymous said...

This post doesn't make sense. You're offended. ...And?

greg said...

There weren't any Jews in some of those movies, either! Anti-semites!

Nick said...

what's the problem?

here's the problem.

ms. paglia likes to complain about the lack of equality in the world. and she blames conservatives for the fact that females and gays do not, in fact, enjoy equality in the world.

please tell me, oh great wise commenters, how we will acheive political equality for homosexuals if a majority of this country doesn't even think that the word "homosexual" can be uttered on television (as was the case during a certain period in american history that ms. paglia idolizes).

Anonymous said...

Oscar Wilde didn't end up jail because he was gay. He went to jail because he tried to make somebody else go to jail for saying he was gay.

Anonymous said...

I'm very disappointed with the blogosphere. There is virtually no analysis, only griping. Just like this comment I'm leaving.
I also don't understand why logical training of blogger minds is so weak. There is plenty one can use to find contradictions in Paglia's arguments. But all I hear and read are whiny liberals complaining about the fact that Paglia holds the positions she does. I don't see any analytical breakdowns or flaws pointed out.
"Paglia isn't post modern! Paglia isn't a self-labelled contemporary lefty! Paglia doesn't respect university profs and PhDs just for their title alone! Paglia isn't politically correct or interested in gender identity for its own sake!"
Well, DUH! If you want to discredit someone, you have to find flaws in the argument, not just bitch about how an opinion isn't to your taste or isn't shared by your classmates or colleagues.
It's all personal attacks, disagreements and no analysis. What, is this woman's position so hermetically perfect you can't find a hole in it?

Anonymous said...

refuses to listen to the answers of anyone who actually has a Ph.D. and teaches at an institution of higher learning.

So your sense of rightness comes from a certificate? PhD's can't be incompetent, right? That's why there's no such thing as peer review, because none of us need it. We're deeply and perfectly informed because of our diploma alone.
The president of the united states never says stupid worthless nonsense, because he's the president. So I always listen and give credence to his words.

You're an idiot.

Anonymous said...

I laughed when Phoebe Maltz described the audience's reaction to Paglia as "stunned," as if this were bad thing. I'm sure the little dears were stunned after having been spoon fed politically correct opinions about gender and identity politics for months and never really taken out of their comfort zone.