December 6, 2012

"Despite the passage of time since second-wave feminism erupted in the late 1960s, we’ve somehow been thrown back to the demure girly-girl days of the white-bread 1950s."

"It feels positively nightmarish to survivors like me of that rigidly conformist and man-pleasing era, when girls had to be simple, peppy, cheerful and modest. Doris Day, Debbie Reynolds and Sandra Dee formed the national template -- that trinity of blond oppressors!"

Camille Paglia is displeased with Taylor Swift and Katy Perry.

76 comments:

rcocean said...

Doris Day and Debbie Reynolds were "demure" "Man-pleasers" - maybe she needs to watch "The Unsinkable Molly Brown" or "Pillow Talk" again.

But then again, I can't imagine either of these women grabbing their crotch or masturbating with a crucifix.

Guess I'm an old fuddy-duddy.

Methadras said...

Uh, Camile needs to get laid. Oh wait, this is why she's angry to begin with. How's that feminism working out for you Camile? Just basically turned you in a jealous old prune. Ta.

Ann Althouse said...

The first part of the essay is good, despite the emphasis on the whiteness of the 2 singers she disapproves of. When she shifts to talking about black singers and approving, the overall effect of the essay is sickeningly racial, undermining all her good points.

I felt used.

Patrick said...

I wonder if Ms. Paglia is aware that she is merely trying to substitute a type of conformity with which she agrees.

Synova said...

I don't know about "simple" but what is wrong with cheerful, peppy, and modest?

None of those things are about being oppressed, they're about being nice to be around, for male friends and for your girl friends too.

People seem to have confused "walk on me" with "focus on others."

And I think that life is enhanced if people focus on others, on being pleasant, cheerful, and modest and putting others before yourself.

Men really had the same social constraints, too, where they were expected to behave a certain way toward their wife, paying her compliments and opening doors and doing all the unpleasant, cold, wet, hot, miserable things like changing tires.

And because some men didn't, women are supposed to be self-centered as an improvement?

Shouting Thomas said...

Taylor Swift is a great writer.

I've played her tunes in a couple of country bands. They are incredibly sophisticated in their chord structure. I like her lyrics.

Taylor Swift is a performer and entertainer, not a symbol of something.

The same attacks were made repeatedly against Louis Armstrong, because he began his career in the vaudeville and minstrel era, and he employed the performing techniques of those genres.

Armstrong ignored the dumb critics. I hope Swift does the same. I'm pretty confident she will.

YoungHegelian said...

I don't begrudge any of the pop-singers their big bucks. I mean, jeez, it's pop music, and it sells until, one day, it magically doesn't any more. Ladies, grab the bucks while you can.

Oprah, on the other hand. Good Lord in Heaven, what does American womanhood see in that narcissistic windbag?

Wait, wait, I'm seeing a pattern here! Obama & Oprah, two black, narcissistic windbags that captured the hearts of American women.

Somedays, it's enough to make you think Roissy & Co. are right.

Patrick said...

Just another example showing that "feminism" was not about choice. It was always about making choices of which feminists approve.

Bullshit.

Inga said...

She's just qvetching again. When she said she wasn't voting for Obama, all loved her, now that she rags on young pretty vivacious white female singers, she's an old hag again, even a racist old hag.

I find her annoying under the best of circumstances.

pbAndjFellowRepublican said...

Both of those gals have a certain oddness re their looks.

Swift's oddness seemed hot. Not so much for Perry, until that "Forward" dress. Maybe it's because I'm an Obamabot, but I thought that dress made her look great. Maybe a clear-eyed Altcon could help me out. Was she hot in that dress?

Oops, I meant this one.

Shouting Thomas said...

Man-pleasing is a very good thing for a woman to do.

Being of service and bringing pleasure to the opposite sex is one of the highest callings of this life.

I would be proud to be called a woman-pleaser in my role as a performer and a musician.

I try my best.

edutcher said...

What's wrong with the girls of the 50s?

Jeanne Crain, Virna Lisi...

The good old days.

Men were men and women didn't look like slobs.

Inga said...

Yeah, Perry was hot in that dress, I must say.

Big Mike said...

Katy Perry is the 21st century Debbie Reynolds?!?

Maybe Ms Paglia needs to reexamine the word "modest"

Ann Althouse said...

You can name many actresses from the 50s who would defy that "rigidly conformist" label. I'm sure Paglia knows that, but she says it anyway.

And Sandra Dee and Doris Day were 1960s stars... that's how little concern Paglia has for accuracy.

Or I guess it was the part of the 60s that felt more like the 50s, the pre-Beatles part.

Kinda like the way half of the 60s were in the 70s...

Shouting Thomas said...

As you can see from my comments about Louis Armstrong, there is always some asshole trying to tell a musician and performer that their job is to stand for some cause, instead of just being a great musician and performer.

I always admired Armstrong for refusing even to reply to the jackasses who called him an Uncle Tom, because he smiled and laughed and tried his best to make his audience happy.

And, of course, Armstrong is the most important and influential artist in the history of American popular music. The vaudeville and minstrel performing techniques that he learned as a kid certainly did not diminish him as an artist. In fact, I think that that heritage is part of what made him so brilliant. He is recognized by just about every musician I know as the undisputed master.

I think he knew that the jackasses bitching at him to be a symbol of some sort of political cause were like gnats nipping at a giant.

Shouting Thomas said...

Dylan, of course, went through the same shit in Woodstock.

Pete Seeger and Peter, Paul and Mary kept bitching at him to write more civil rights anthems to advance the great cause. They're all commies, of course.

Dylan, to his credit, told them to go fuck themselves, because he wanted to be the next Elvis.

Good for him.

carrie said...

The difference between women now and in the 50s is that girls today have lost the right to be demur and to say "no" to casual sex. Teenage girls are sex objects now more than ever. And the feminists are responsible for that very negative change IMO.

Crimso said...

"Camille Paglia is displeased with Taylor Swift and Katy Perry."

So am I. But for altogether different reasons.

wyo sis said...

Maybe I've been misunderstanding modest all these years.

Katy Perry and Taylor Swift are not found in the definition of modesty.

Shouting Thomas said...

The immortal master at work.

Erika said...

Swift affects a “golly, gee whiz” persona of cultivated blandness and self-deprecation, which is completely at odds with her shrewd glam dress sense. Indeed, without her mannequin posturing at industry events, it’s doubtful that Swift could have attained her high profile.

I'm sure that her high profile has nothing whatsoever to do with the fact that she's been working her ass off at learning her craft, promoting herself and working her way into the industry since she was ten years old.

Perry I don't know about because no one in our house listens to her music.

Aside from that--can someone tell me in plain English what exactly is Paglia's point or points, because I read that weird, hostile screed twice and have no idea what she was trying to say.

Mark said...

Lousy essay and she has her facts wrong. Sir Mixalot made a mainstream hit out of "baby's got back" long before JLo took some backside photo in Vogue. I suspect many more people were familiar with that funny rap song than some picture in Vogue half a decade later. Paglia could have saved some trees and just shouted, "Get off my lawn" at TS and KP.

Erika said...

Oh, and I meant to say that someone can believe whatever they want about Swift's talent or lack thereof, but even if they think she's not talented, she hardly stands out as such from any of the other performers who came up by name.

n.n said...

Well, this is ironic. Does she not appreciate that Taylor Swift is an entrepreneur? That she was not discovered, but developed and succeeded on her personal merit? What, exactly, does Paglia think she should be? There is no evidence to support that Swift is "girly-girly" at all. In fact, she seems quite authentic. Perhaps Paglia prefers the diversity of color and not the noble quality which derives from individual dignity.

Shouting Thomas said...

My favorite Taylor Swift song.

pbAndjFellowRepublican said...

ST,

What's w/ truncating the master?

Better link?


Shouting Thomas said...

My apologies...

An untruncated version of the brilliant master at work.

pbAndjFellowRepublican said...

BTW, I really like it when Althouse gets sucked in by a provocative writer.

What comes around goes around.






pbAndjFellowRepublican said...

She was vortexed.

Shouting Thomas said...

Don't you feel great after listening to Satchmo play and sing a song?

That's what it's all about.

William said...

I like Armstrong's version of Mack the Knife. I saw a quote where he said he "knew cats like that in New Orleans." Anyway, there's a horn solo in there that pure sunshine. Everyone makes Mack a ballad of squalor, but Armstrong's version rejoices in a dude with a strong pimp hand.

Patrick said...

I do think Ms. Swift is a talented writer. Vocally, she doesn't impress me too much, but being an extraordinary singer is not what she is about. She writes really nice songs for her target group. If my kids started listening to her, I'd have no problem with it at all.

Somehow I ended up listening to her song "Love Story" immediately after I listened to the album "All the Road Running" by Emmylou Harris and Mark Knopfler.

Ms. Swift writes love songs for kids, which makes sense, because she is one, or just beyond that. The songs written by emmylou and Knopfler are grown up versions of those songs, e.g. "This is Us," and "Right Now."

As she gets older, I would think her songs will reflect more experience.

I do like that Back to December, though, Shouting.

William said...

Also a few kind words about Doris Day. Long before she was a virgin, she was a big band singer. She was almost literally the antithesis of Billie Holliday. She had the sunniest, cheeriest voice imaginable. Even when she sang lyrics like Gershwin's "Do, do, do what you did before", the double entendre were bleached out of them. She sounded like a mother coaxing a kid to take another spoon of baby food.....Tragedy is easy. Comedy is hard. It takes mastery of the craft to find the upbeat shadings in a Gershwin tune. She's to singers what P.G. Wodehouse is to writers. It takes real artisty to create such innocence and sunshine.

Popville said...

Ann said:

> Kinda like the way half of the 60s were in the 70s...

Exactly. For most of the US definitely. Only a few experienced the 60s in full (after subtracting the liars).

And since early 2K's popular music ownership in the US has returned to the Dick Clarks. It's not just TV, but the implosion of rock-n-roll & r&-b radio, and most importantly the diminishment of music as a time consumer for kids. In our (us dinosaurs) day is was our primary providence, but not now.

A couple of outstanding cds this year (a bad year for music IMO):

Jonny Polonski: http://jonnypolonsky.bandcamp.com/album/intergalactic-messenger-of-divine-light-and-love

Gemma Ray (antidote for Camile, minus the death-wish of other recent female edgy singers): https://soundcloud.com/gemma-ray

Cheers!

Shouting Thomas said...

William,

You didn't tell the joke with the correct dramatic flair.

Musicians who worked with Doris Day all told the same story about her.

"I knew her back before she was a virgin!"

During her days with the big bands, she was well known for her romantic adventures.

edutcher said...

Ann Althouse said...

You can name many actresses from the 50s who would defy that "rigidly conformist" label. I'm sure Paglia knows that, but she says it anyway.

And Sandra Dee and Doris Day were 1960s stars... that's how little concern Paglia has for accuracy.


No, Doris Day was doing stuff like "Love Me Or Leave Me" with Jimmy Cagney and "The Man Who Knew Too Much" with Jimmy Stewart in the middle 50s. You're thinking of those sappy Ross Hunter comedies she did for Universal.

Sandra Dee's big pic was "Gidget" in '59 and she'd been working for several years before that.

PS I didn't know she died in '05.

Seeing Red said...

Katy Perry is "simple, peppy, cheerful and modest?"

Katy Perry??????

Her ex fits that description more, he's a homebody after the wild ride he had.

Saint Croix said...

It's interesting how radio is so dominated by girl singers now. I challenge you to go on the radio without hearing Katy Perry or Taylor Swift or that damn Carly Rae Jepsen

Here's Barack Obama singing Call Me Mabye. That actually might be the most evil editing of our lifetime.

Saint Croix said...

Maybe. That's how you spell that word. Maybe.

McTriumph said...

I like Paglia, but don't always agree. She uses Sandra Dee and Reynolds as examples because they both played the "Tammy" movie character in the 50s and 60s and released the same kind of songs, bubblegum. I guess bubblegum is all in the context of the time and what's gone on before in music. I sometimes think Paglia believes art and specifically rock needs to be viscerally erotic, physical and make her wet to be great.

She did lose me in the second half of the article, but I really don't know Rhiana's music.

Sunslut7 said...

Yeah horrible. They played optimistic heroines on middle class fantasy movies. Movies that calmed the tortured minds of middle class viewers in the following years after the horrors of WWII and Korea-- not to mention the COLD WAR!. I loved their peppy, cheerful American women who had spunk and a sense of awe about the world. Today we have decadent, hedonistic, bored worldly vamps whose Hollywood film sell-date comes faster and faster with each passing decade. WHere do you go for thrils when Lady Gaga becomes passe?

The last stop on this rail-line is: female leads played by TVs. Its a 'marketing thing you know'.

wholelottasplainin' said...

Has Camille ever commented on Sandra Fluke, rhymes with "Fuck My Brains Out Paid for By Others" aka to Libs as "For Free"?

mojavehicular said...

Repeat after me:
The more melanin,
The more 'authenticity'.

wholelottasplainin' said...

Has Camille ever commented on Sandra Fluke, rhymes with "Fuck my brains with birth control paid for by others", aka to liberal wymyn as "for free"?

Now THERE's feminist empowerment for you!

I am WOMAN! Hear me QUEEF!!!

From Inwood said...

Ms. Paglia should be safe, legal, & rare.

BTW Doris Day goes back to 1945 (Sentimental Journey) & her movie career was really over in the early 1960s

Roger J. said...

Re Doris Day, I think it waqs Oscar Levant who said he knew Doris Day before she became a virgin.

mccullough said...

Like existentialism, feminism has reached the end of the line. Paglia can be funny, and she is far superior to Naomi Wolf, but it's time for her to retire. She's pretty much as vapid as Taylor Swift.

Oso Negro said...

What was most enjoyable were the comments attached to her article. They may be generally summarized as "you got what you wanted, you pretentious hag"

JAWilson said...

I've been watching a lot of TV in this current bout of insomnia and find the old stereotypes appear quite refreshing. Intact family life. No obscenity. And the women were respected. Check out Petticoat Junction if you want a little action.

And tomorrow, I'll wake up to detached irony from some androgynous kid on a bike texting and riding in traffic.

Marshal said...

But somehow it's conservatives who are worried that someone might be happy? No sale.

Paglia seems to believe it's not enough to have Pink and Amy Winehouse - the anti cheerful, peppy, and modest - but that the world is wrong until Swift et al are not an option. Shockingly diversity is only the goal until you have it, then the goal becomes suppression. It's a familiar template.

Colonel Angus said...

Listening to feminists in America describe themselves as 'survivors' is like listening to Kim Kardashian say she survived staying at a hotel that didn't have room service.

Geo. Mason said...

If Louis Armstrong isn't in heaven, no one is.

http://youtu.be/E2VCwBzGdPM

BarryD said...

Uh, Taylor Swift sings some good songs. She gets airplay on multiple radio formats. She isn't on crack, and she doesn't get arrested for drunk hit-and-runs every few weeks. Is that so horrible? And how does she oppress anyone?

And Katy Perry modest? Her outfits show a real sense of humor (watermelon boobs, for example), but they're no more modest than Lady Gaga's. They're arguably even more sexually suggestive.

Seems like the ONLY objection she has to these singers is that they're white.

Maybe she doesn't like their music, but surely there's plenty of other music out there she doesn't like, same as all of us.

BarryD said...

Oh, and Colonel Angus FTW!

Robert Cook said...

I've always enjoyed Doris Day in the movies. She can play light comedy and she can play drama. She brings levels of subtlety to whatever her endeavor.

Plus, her faintly husky voice is sexy...as so is she!

Larry J said...

Taylor Swift would be justified to ask, "Camille who?". Why should anyone should care about Camille Paglia's opinion?

As we used to say in the Army, "Opinions are like assholes; everybody has one."

Anglelyne said...

Erika: Aside from that--can someone tell me in plain English what exactly is Paglia's point or points, because I read that weird, hostile screed twice and have no idea what she was trying to say.

I think Mark summed it up pretty well: "Get off my lawn".

Paglia has always had a strong streak of anti-WASP butthurt in her writing. This essay is what you get when you combine that feature with her cohort's shared and undying delusion that they discovered sex, and the difficulty some aging brains have with delivering anything but rambling expressions of their life's store of spleen. (Though she's always had a tendency to ramble.)

Remember, she was all over the banal and ultra-commercial Madonna as the very avatar of erotic liberation and female "empowerment" back in the day, so it's not the sterile and monotonous that's bothering her.

Renee said...

I feel terrible for so many girls, that these entertainers are their only role models. Look at all the Disney/Nick tween shows, they all revolve around acting/singing/dancing. All the adults in these programs are portrayed as absent minded idiots.

Parents and teachers are not longer wrong in their values, rather adults have value to the teens. The adults are truly valueless, in the sense they're not even are apart of the story. The characters just go day to day in their pursuit of being famous, and adults are just there to pay the bills and put food in the fridge, and have no influence or guidance in their children's lives.


Have an eight year old girl watch these shows for hours at time, in the promise that they're 'age appropriate' simply because there is no sex, and you wonder how they can't see beyond themselves?




Popular TV Shows Teach Children Fame Is Most Important Value, Psychologists Report; Being Kind to Others Fell Dramatically in Importance Over 10 Years from Science Daily

"The top five values in 2007 were fame, achievement, popularity, image and financial success. In 1997, the top five were community feeling, benevolence (being kind and helping others), image, tradition and self-acceptance. In 2007, benevolence dropped to the 12th spot and community feeling fell to 11th. Financial success went from 12th in 1967 and 1997 to fifth in 2007.
The two least emphasized values in 2007 were spiritualism (16th) and tradition (15th); tradition had been ranked fourth in 1997."

Colonel Angus said...

Seems like the ONLY objection she has to these singers is that they're white.

This is a trend I have seen among white liberals for some time now. The blatant self loathing and disdain for white people has become a trademark of contemperary liberalism. In point of fact, its become acceptable to mock or deride white people for no other reason than the color of their skin. Paglia illustrates this in her poor excuse for writing.

This is really what liberals have wanted to achieve for decades; not equality but a paradigm shift in race relations where white people are discriminated against.

Renee said...

As to say there is nothing to rebel against in the eyes of young women/teenagers, adults (like Paglia) do not exist.

Patrick said...

For the Louis Armstrong fans, if you haven't already, read "Pops" by Terry Teachout. Althouse portal link here.

EMD said...

I usually like Paglia, because she is a 'feminist' who is not constrained by modern feminism.

However, this is an awful tract — all over the place and inconsistent. She really shows she's out of her depth on these subjects as she perceives them.

Peter said...

If you're going to be unhappy that much of popular culture is shallow and boorish and fails to qualify as high culture, well, you're going to be perpetually happy.

Brittney Spears is not a Great Artist- yet her pap still sells? Horrors!!

Perhaps Paglia is like Shopenhauer in that she can only be happy when she's very, very unhappy?

William said...

It does seem that the female black singers of the big band era have aged better than the white ones. Billie Holliday, Ella Fitzgerald, Sarah Vaughan are for the ages. With the exception of Peggy Lee,

Peter said...

”Sandra Dee and Doris Day were 1960s stars... that's how little concern Paglia has for accuracy.


Just as the 20th century is sometimes re-defined as beginning with the start of WWI and ending with the collapse of the USSR, “the 60s in America” could be defined as beginning with the assassination of JFK (11/22/1963) and ending with the collapse of South Vietnam in April, 1975 (or perhaps ending with the total withdrawal of American troops in 1973?).

Defining “the 50s in America” is tougher (when did it start?) but clearly “the 50s” culture extends well into the chronological ‘60s.

What’s annoying about representations of “the 50s in America” is that they are seldom presented in their true complexity, but just used as a foil to set up a triumpalist view of 1960s as a tale of liberation.

Franklin said...

Why is every opinion piece in the Obama era so racial? Good God.

Joe said...

Ann said: Or I guess it was the part of the 60s that felt more like the 50s, the pre-Beatles part.

Kinda like the way half of the 60s were in the 70s...

I always thought "the '60s" began in Nov. 1963 with the JFK assassination followed by the Beatles on Ed Sullivan in Feb. of '64.

Likewise, the '60s ended Aug. 8, 1974 with the resignation of Richard Nixon.

It was a long decade.

B said...

carrie said...The difference between women now and in the 50s is that girls today have lost the right to be demur and to say "no" to casual sex. Teenage girls are sex objects now more than ever. And the feminists are responsible for that very negative change IMO.

Bang. The inevitable consequences of the feminist movement and still devolving. The 'strong liberal woman' myth is nothing more than the insistence that your control over your body and sexuality is what defines and empowers you. The irony is that that indeed becomes what teens (and Sandra Fluke) believe defines and empowers them, their bodies and sexuality...sex objects.

Scott M said...

Camille Paglia is displeased with Taylor Swift and Katy Perry.

I thought feminism, as defined by feminists, was all about personal choice. If Swift and Perry are what they are, it's because they chose to be that way.

Besides that obvious aspect, Swift and Perry types are far, far outnumbered by the other end of the second-wave's results...a huge number of young women who are fast becoming the men their mothers divorced.

MadisonMan said...

I anxiously await Paglia's take on One Direction.

Saint Croix said...

It's absurd to call Doris Day a man-pleaser. That was actually Marilyn Monroe's persona, which was aimed at men (and lesbians like Paglia). Paglia might be attracted to Monroe, but she would hardly identify with Monroe. Nobody would. Monroe's screen persona was comic and over-the-top. It was highly artificial. Day, on the other hand, crafted a genuine persona. Day in Pillow Talk is irritated by sex and irritated by men, but that just makes the movie funnier and more rewarding.

Most of Day's movies suck, but not that one. It's brilliant art.

Kirk Parker said...

Shouting,

"I've played her tunes in a couple of country bands. They are incredibly sophisticated in their chord structure."

Well, I have only played a sample of one, but in that: no. IV - I - V - vi for the whole song--verses, chorus, bridge, everything. I guess we need to try some of her others?

Kirk Parker said...

Renee,

""The top five values in 2007 were fame, achievement, popularity, image and financial success."

My wife is a high school teacher. One time, in her advisory (homeroom) group, she asked the kids to write 3 characteristics of the person they would want to share their lives with.

One of them wrote:

    Money
    Hotness
    Nice, I guess.

Kirk Parker said...

Shouting,

Indeed, "Back to December" is pretty good. I'll talk to our front-gals and see what they think...

Kirk Parker said...

St. Croix,

"That's how you spell that word. Maybe"

Yeah, we've got a commenter here who might disagree with you. ;-)