March 24, 2011

"She was single-handedly a living rebuke to postmodernism and post-structuralism, which maintain that gender is merely a social construct."

Camilia Paglia appropriates the dead body of Elizabeth Taylor to restate the point she's been making for 20 years.

57 comments:

Jason (the commenter) said...

Most people are ghouls. People do it with Jesus all the time. Camille (ahem!) is just using a fresher corpse.

Jay Retread said...

Ann can't handle that Camille still gets taken seriously and gets to play on the big stage while she is relegated to the fourth tier of right wing hackery.

Ann, I believe Breibart is calling!

Jay Retread said...

Ann, Camille still writes books and has original thoughts. See the difference? No need to be jealous. You just play in different leagues.

traditionalguy said...

Camille knows her subject well. Women that like men are another breed from the Feminists that specialize in defeating men. And we men know the difference. The social order depends upon male authority protecting women and children to function as it was designed to function. That is so simple that only a hateful rebel refuses to see it. Not that there is anything wrong with destroying social order.

NotYourTypicalNewYorker said...

"Camilia Paglia appropriates the dead body of Elizabeth Taylor to restate the point she's been making for 20 years."

This commentary can't be had anywhere else.

Gordon Freece said...

Actually, Retread, Paglia generates her ideas with a pretty simple algorithm. She's a bit of a bore. Kind of like you, but she's good enough at it to get paid. And she's bright enough to have a sense of humor. And... Huh. Who cares?

Sorry, you and Paglia are both too boring to think about any longer.

chickelit said...

Wow. Did Paglia really just say all that in an interview as opposed to writing it? That's just amazingly clear and lucid.

I agree with her point about Taylor's uniqueness. I said as back in that Taylor thread earlier: "no replacement in sight."

FWIW, I agree with her statements about Streep (who has always repulsed me but I'm just an average Joe). And no one is even talking about the equally repulsive Julianne Moore being cast in a Palin biopic? I predict a big flop there too. Might as well not even make the film. These women can't even begin to fathom men even though they oh so smugly believe that they do.

ironrailsironweights said...

For at least the past couple of decades Elizabeth Taylor was famous for being famous. It certainly wasn't for her acting roles, as there weren't actually any. Zsa Zsa Gabor is another example - quick, name a few of her movies.

Peter

somefeller said...

Poseur award for the day. Maybe the decade. That decade being the 90s.

chickelit said...

Zsa Zsa Gabor is another example - quick, name a few of her movies.

It's worse. Most people can only remember her sister's TV show.

rhhardin said...

Postmodernism hardly thinks gender is a social construct.

That's received feminism.

Paglia has been uniformly tedious after Sexual Personae.

Which itself needed an editor, but had enough startling insights along the way to pay for itself.

Along with startling errors about postmodernism, by which she meant liberal arts academia, not postmodernism.

edutcher said...

Disagree about the great actress part, but her years at Metro undoubtedly taught her the techniques of working with the camera.

She also was, and this goes back forty years, always acknowledged as a survivor, above all. By 1980, the dead exes were already piling up.

ironrailsironweights said...

For at least the past couple of decades Elizabeth Taylor was famous for being famous. It certainly wasn't for her acting roles, as there weren't actually any. Zsa Zsa Gabor is another example - quick, name a few of her movies.

Can't entirely agree. From Cleo on (Sophia Loren was the original choice), that's true, but "Butterfield 8" and her roles in the Tennessee Williams plays were quite well-received, IIRC.

PS Retread should have been made by Bell & howell or, at least, HP.

shiloh said...

You just play in different leagues.

Indeed! lol

Maguro said...

Just a fancy way of saying she had nice tits.

Bob_R said...

There's the (probably apocryphal) story about Einstein saying that he had only three good ideas. The jury is still out on how many good ideas Camilia is behind Al. But if it's only two she might as well ride her one good idea for all it is worth.

Better two behind than three.

Bob_R said...

Maguro - As any long time Althouse reader can tell you - It's all about the boobies. Though Taylor is one of the few women who's eyes distract you from her boobs. She probably had to tell men, "They're down there," rather than "I'm up here."

Marilee said...

"That's what people laud Meryl Streep for -- "Oh, her accents are so great; oh, her articulation is so perfect." But she doesn't really live in her characters, she merely costumes them. Meryl Streep is always doing drag. But it's so superficial"

Absolutely agree with this.

Jason (the commenter) said...

chickelit: Did Paglia really just say all that in an interview as opposed to writing it?

I'm suspicious. Try reading the article out loud. It doesn't sound like spoken dialog at all. The very first question, with the long Paglia quote, no one would say that!

I'm guessing this entire article has been sitting around, updated every once in awhile, waiting for Taylor to pass.

What's really telling is:

"...but she diligently trekked outside in the rain to speak to Salon editor-in-chief Kerry Lauerman by telephone under a portico, as the wind howled around her."

The much too detailed description of a poor liar.

Quaestor said...

Appropriation of a dead body for rhetorical purposes

So that's what to eulogize means. Thanks, Ann, I'll keep that in mind.

Jason (the commenter) said...

ironrailsironweights: Zsa Zsa Gabor is another example - quick, name a few of her movies.

At work we were trying to think of movies Taylor was in (and I work with people who could have seen her movies in the theater); we could only come up with a few, none of which I had ever seen. So I agree, Taylor is famous for being famous. She's got more in common with Paris Hilton than Meryl Streep.

Seven Machos said...

Ann can't handle that Camille still gets taken seriously

L.E. -- You seem overeager to paint Althouse as some kind of failure. Why is that?

traditionalguy said...

Iron...Taylor certainly earned her Fame. She did the roles she was given and became an excellent actress in all roles she was hired for. Everybody remembers Who's Afraid of Virginia Wolf for he man eater role and Butterfield 8 for its treatment of sexual power. But Liz could do the good wife to a man role too. If you haven't had the pleasure, see Giant with Rock Hudson and James Dean.

Palladian said...

"That's what people laud Meryl Streep for -- "Oh, her accents are so great; oh, her articulation is so perfect." But she doesn't really live in her characters, she merely costumes them. Meryl Streep is always doing drag. But it's so superficial"

Absolutely agree with this."

Absolutely agree here as well. Streep is a third-rate pantomime performer. Her Julia Child was dreadful. I made a little video comparison of the two.

Paglia is tiresome. She conflates postmodernism/post-structuralism and the mediocrities who misunderstood it but they're completely separate things.

AST said...

Please, no references to these critical -isms. They're the product of people who fancy themselves public intellectuals, but have no real impact on anybody. They can only describe, and that poorly, like looking through the wrong end of a telescope.

Elizabeth Taylor is dead. Is that really remarkable at age 79. At the Resurrection, she'll be just another person walking out of Forest Lawn looking bewildered.

Palladian said...

"L.E. -- You seem overeager to paint Althouse as some kind of failure. Why is that?"

Personal vendetta. Has to be; the myopic, obsessive, entirely personal focus of his/her years of trolling points to someone that Althouse "wronged". My guess is a failed student.

But the psychological profiling of L.E. Retread bores me at this point. Best to ignore.

chickelit said...

So I agree, Taylor is famous for being famous. She's got more in common with Paris Hilton than Meryl Streep.

Sad

Conserve Liberty said...

Jay Retread said...

Ann can't handle that Camille still gets taken seriously and gets to play on the big stage while she is relegated to the fourth tier of right wing hackery.


OMFG! You just never give up, do you? Its enough to make me want to stop reading this blog.

But then you'd have your way.

But then I wouldn't be reading YOU any more and you'd be nobody again.

Seven Machos said...

If Althouse is such a hack, why do all these leftists who hate her spend time at her little website that, they say, nobody reads? I find that disturbing.

As for the substance of the post, Paglia is a one-trick pony. It's a great trick and she is really good at it. But, you know, one trick.

edutcher said...

Jason (the commenter) said...
ironrailsironweights: Zsa Zsa Gabor is another example - quick, name a few of her movies.

At work we were trying to think of movies Taylor was in (and I work with people who could have seen her movies in the theater); we could only come up with a few, none of which I had ever seen. So I agree, Taylor is famous for being famous. She's got more in common with Paris Hilton than Meryl Streep.


Zsa was never a star, and most of her movies were B; not sure, but I'd bet the bulk of her work was TV.

One reason I think you guys may be putting Liz in the Paris Hilton category is that you don't remember the mid- to late 50s and early 60s.
She did have lots of credits to her name. (if I'm wrong about your ages, say so - I won't do a J or a Retread on you)

WV "endatog" The part of the Cleopatra costume where you saw a little of Liz's tush.

Jason (the commenter) said...

chickelit: Sad

I don't think so. Taylor seemed to have been having a good time for most of her life.

Seven Machos said...

Anyone who compares Paris Hilton and Elizabeth Taylor simply does not understand the past or present of the entertainment industry.

Jason (the commenter) said...

edutcher: One reason I think you guys may be putting Liz in the Paris Hilton category is that you don't remember the mid- to late 50s and early 60s.

I'm not that old, but the people who I know who are that old couldn't remember her movies. And as for credits, Paris has been in a lot, she was even on Veronica Mars.

Jason (the commenter) said...

Seven Machos: Anyone who compares Paris Hilton and Elizabeth Taylor simply does not understand the past or present of the entertainment industry.

I think Paris Hilton is in the past already (sorry dude!).

shoutingthomas said...

Back the the original theme.

Who gives a fuck about postmodernism and post-structuralism?

I don't.

But, I like Liz's tits and ass.

And she made a few really good movies, too.

And, it isn't gender. It's sex. Thank God.

edutcher said...

shoutingthomas said...
Who gives a fuck about postmodernism and post-structuralism?

I don't.

But, I like Liz's tits and ass.


The tush is rather flat, but you like the wide, round hips, I'm thinking.

(hey, so do I)

Chip Ahoy said...

Jason, your first comment made laugh.

You've seen Cleopatra, no? I saw it once as a feisty little sprog and I recall thinking, "this is a bit crap, but I like it a lot."

<pedantry alert>
There were actually several Cleopatras, they were all Ptolomys, therefore Greek. The movie was supposed to be about the last Cleopatra, VII, alive during the critical transition from Egypt's Greek to Roman era, who shared the throne with her brothers Ptolomy XIII and XIV. (← odd that, Roman numerals for Greek names.) Even children could tell the Hollywood-ization caused many historic errors, but I didn't care.

Incidental to this, Ptolomy is one of the royal names within a cartouche that allowed the translation of the Rosetta stone. Within the cartouche is the sign for the bilabial plosive "p" along with the sign for the voiceless lingua alveolar stop "t". That tells me that both the p and the t in name Ptolomy were spoken, and that the name was not spoken then in that language as we do today like "tolomy" otherwise they would not have bothered to chisel the sign for 'p' into stone. That's my opinion, and I must stick with it for now.
</pedantry alert>

But enough of Cleopatra, it is a very good film, even if a little bit absurd.

There is a scene in The Sandpiper where Taylor is sitting on the floor of a Big Sur home with a bird in a box, IIRC. Again, I was a little kid when I saw it on the teevee. The camera angle of the scene I recall is one of a person standing, probably the priest she seduced, looking down on E. Taylor sitting there wearing little more than a form-fitting v-neck sweater. Nothing particularly outstanding about the dialogue that comes to mind, but there is not a person alive on Earth who cannot appreciate her beautiful and perfectly formed norks framed forever for all posterity in that amazing scene, and they were real.

The Crack Emcee said...

It's the same point she's been making for 20 years but - hey - she's still right.

Problem?

Gary Rosen said...

" the people who I know who are that old couldn't remember her movies."

You know, you can actually look this stuff up on that Innernet thingy, www.imdb.com:

National Velvet
A Place in the Sun
Father of the Bride
Giant
Cat on a Hot Tin Roof
Suddenly Last Summer
Butterfield 8 (won Oscar)
Cleopatra
The Sandpiper
Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf

These were made between 1944 and 1967, from the time she was a huge child star. Her leading men in these movies included Paul Newman, Rock Hudson, Spencer Tracy, Richard Burton and Montgomery Clift. Of course this is only a small portion of all the movies she made.

Yes, she didn't do much after the mid-70s. But regardless of what Jason and his friends remember she was one of the biggest Hollywood stars ever.

Gary Rosen said...

To clarify of course she was a "child star" only at the beginning of that period ('44-'67).

An interesting comparison is Taylor to Marilyn Monroe. In the '50s they were virtually equivalent - drop-dead gorgeous sex symbols with tumultuous personal lives. At the risk of sounding cruel (well I guess that doesn't stop too many of us including me) the difference between them is that Marilyn took to heart the saying "Live fast, die young and leave a good-looking corpse" while Liz got only one out of three.

Seven Machos said...

The difference between Paris Hilton and Elizabeth Taylor and Paris Hilton is that Paris Hilton is a very savvy businessperson with decent looks and a little money who has made a fortune while Elizabeth Taylor was simply a gorgeous specimen of a person.

William said...

I think Penelope Cruz is part of the Ava Gardner, Elizabeth Taylor continuum. The stars change but their archeypes remain....I saw Giant sometime back. It was considered a great film in its day. It hasn't aged well. Too manipulative. It's very difficult to look on Rock Hudson and consider him as patriarchal. Same problem looking upon Elizabeth Taylor and considering her as a saintly and benign wife. Later events and roles subverted their performances. James Dean looked kind of cool though.....There are method actors who become their characters. Elizabeth was a method entertainer. She wasn't theatrical; she was theatre. She didn't know where life began and theatre ended. Her whole life was lived as spectacle and show with large gestures that could be seen in the cheap seats. She could upstage Cleopatra.

vbspurs said...

I'm arriving late to the thread, and am going to bed without having finished reading all the comments. But I agree with Seven Machos that Paglia is a bit of an one-trick pony.

But no kiddie party is complete without one.

The canonical shot of Elizabeth Taylor sewn into that white slip in "Butterfield 8" is one of the major art images of my entire life! She is Babylonian pagan woman -- the goddess Ishtar, the anti-Mary!

Yikes. Suddenly, I get a vision of a teen Camille P getting all hot under the covers in her cold water tenement.

wv: farken (precisely)

Gary Rosen said...

My point wasn't that those were all necessarily "great" films, but that they were "big" films of the era - significant Hollywood productions with major figures in the cast and crew. Winning an Oscar doesn't necessarily make you a great actor/actress but it means you're probably at least pretty good and that despite all the personal drama Taylor was holding her own after the start she had as a child star. Not a "15 minutes of fame" type by a million light-years.

Coketown said...

Ann, you really shouldn't link to anything by Paglia without also linking to your post about seeing Paglia in person. We need context.

And I'm surprised nobody made a comment about Elizabeth Edwards's corpse.

Lucius said...

If Camille Paglia is just a "one-trick pony", I'd like to know what that just *one* trick is?

People who doubt Paglia's bona fides as a critic of the highest magnitude need to return to, say, the William Blake chapter of "Sexual Personae" and its devastating evisceration of his free-love, optimism, and sexual equality mask to find the ragingly anxious sadomasochistic masculinism beneath.

Or who believes Paglia has read too little Deluze, Lacan, Derrida or Foucault to honor the distinction btw. "Post-Modernism" and the Post-Structuralism that is, essentially, its highbrow Continental (failed) rationale.

Anyway, among her other 'ponies' is her expertise on Classical Hollywood; and she's not saying (nor does she particularly need to say) anything more here than she did in her essay on Taylor from "Sex, Art, and American Culture." --Although, as a Paglia fanatic, I will note that she goes much further into defending "Butterfield 8" in the salon eulogy than anywhere I've seen before.

I really don't understand the (seeming?) antipathy to Paglia.

In any event, does anybody doubt Paglia's sheer *enthusiasm* for Liz Taylor? Is it exploitative to cherish the memory of a longstanding cultural idol?

Marshal said...

"Jason (the commenter) said...

edutcher: One reason I think you guys may be putting Liz in the Paris Hilton category is that you don't remember the mid- to late 50s and early 60s.

I'm not that old, but the people who I know who are that old couldn't remember her movies. And as for credits, Paris has been in a lot, she was even on Veronica Mars."

Wait another 30 years an then ask people to name Kathleen Turner movies. Movies become forgettable over time, it doesn't mean the actors were never stars. She was huge, and not at all a gadfly like Gabor. Comparing Taylor and Gabor is insulting.

Lincolntf said...

She's certainly not appropriating a corpse any more than anyone else who sees the passing of someone famous as an opportunuity to reflect on what that person meant.
"Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf" recorded on DVR overnight. I'll have to have a tribute viewing this weekend.

Seven Machos said...

I love Camille Paglia. She just hasn't said anything new since 1989 or so.

CyndiF said...

The difference between Paris Hilton and Elizabeth Taylor and Paris Hilton is that Paris Hilton is a very savvy businessperson with decent looks and a little money who has made a fortune while Elizabeth Taylor was simply a gorgeous specimen of a person.

Never heard of White Diamonds, I take it?

Seven Machos said...

Learn something every day.

Dust Bunny Queen said...

I remember when they filmed "The Klansman" in a town near where I lived.

Richard Burton and Elizabeth Taylor leased a house from someone that I knew. At the end of the film, the place was utterly trashed. Broken glass, shredded furniture, stained carpet, holes in the walls.....the drinking fighting and sex must have been epic.

They (Burton, Marvin and Taylor) were continually drunk. In Oroville, there was a bar that had one portion of it cordoned off with curtains and security personnel so that Marvin could drink in privacy. Very spectacular goings on in our little corner of the world.

Pagilia is correct about feminism not liking men and trying to turn men into women's girlfriends and women into sexless clones. Women like Taylor and Sophia Loren are women who like men and like themselves and enjoy life.

William said...

Some other commenter noted that, Taylor's children were healthy, happy, and successful and that Taylor herself left an estate of $600 million dollars. Even her marriages, for all the sturm und drang, looked like fun. Perhaps the train wreck spectacle of her life was just special effects, and she had some intact nucleus of logic that allowed her to make sense of the chaos. Whatever her acting talents, she was very good at selling perfume, and, in the end, isn't that what it's all about.

Oligonicella said...

"The happy and successful heterosexual woman feels tender and maternal toward men -- but this has been completely lost in our feminist era. Now women tell men, you have to be my companion and be just like a woman; be my best friend, and listen to me chatter. In other words, women don't really like men anymore -- they want men to be like women. But Elizabeth Taylor liked men, and men loved to be around her because they sensed that."

A carpet bombing.

kwood said...

There's a relaxation at the heart of Elizabeth Taylor's acting style -- and also in Elizabeth Taylor the woman-- whereas you always feel a wariness or tension in Jolie.

This is a very astute observation Camille makes here comparing Liz Taylor to Angelina Jolie. It's these sorts of instinctive insights, coupled with a very forgiving outlook over all, that make me a bit of a Paglia fan.

Beth said...

Paglia may have been restating that point for 20 years, but she hasn't managed to do so more clearly than Billy Wilder:

"Will you look at that! Look how she moves! It's like Jell-O on springs. Must have some sort of built-in motor or something. I tell you, it's a whole different sex! "

Beth said...

With Katrina and the subsequent flooding in New Orleans, the HIV/AIDS services were pretty much destroyed. Among the many, many tasks involved in reestablishing basic care, was the need for a clinic.

Elizabeth Taylor had her charitable foundation make some calls and ask what was needed. She paid for a mobile health van, basically a big travel van outfitted as a clinic, so they could continue testing and treating while their premises were restored. It's still in use, for mobile testing, counseling and education.

She was a class act.

My neighbor, who just made 90, told me yesterday that as a young woman she worked with a magic act in a stage show in New York, which was run before films in local theaters. Once Liz Taylor showed up to do publicity for one of her films and did her makeup in the back with the girls. Colleen says she was absolutely as beautiful as she looks on screen. The she tells me in her wonderful old lady bray (hard of hearing, big Yankee accent) - "But she couldn't keep a man! Shame that!"

abeer ahmed said...

visit us on lifeandstylemag.com
http://whois.domaintasks.com/lifeandstylemag.com