From a NYT Magazine essay asking the question: "Is It Immoral to Watch the Super Bowl?" The question-asker is Steve Almond. Am I supposed to know who he is? (Is it immoral not to know?) There's no note about the author on the page and the name isn't a hot link. What's his moral authority?
Perhaps he wants his ideas judged by the strength of this one text, like an anonymous pamphleteer, but I Google his name and see that he's a short-story writer and that he was an adjunct professor in creative writing at Boston College who resigned in protest when Condoleezza Rice was brought in to do the school's commencement address. Moral authority noted.
Here's a picture of Almond wearing a brown shirt that says "chocolate boy." Lest you take that the wrong way, his website is called stevealmondjoy.com and he wrote a nonfiction book called "Candyfreak," about his love for candy and his search for the stories of "the small candy companies that are persevering in a marketplace where big corporations dominate."
I'd embed the photo, but the photographer, who seems to have just snapped a pic when Almond spoke at a high school in Minnesota, put lots of "not in the public domain" language around it when he uploaded it to Wikipedia. How boring! That photographer lacks moral authority in this world of creative commons. It's a picture of somebody else, and that someone else was nice enough to show up and allow photographs.
Here are some photos I took of Camille Paglia when she was nice enough to show up at a bookstore in Madison to talk about a book of hers. She let us take nonflash photos during the book-signing part of the visit, and I keep my photos on a Creative Commons license (attribution, noncommercial).
I wonder whether Camille has weighed in on the morality of football? There's this, from 1991:
I don't go [imitates crying and dabbing tears], "Oh, I'll never be that beautiful!" What a ridiculous attitude to take!--the Naomi Wolf attitude. When men look at sports, when they look at football, the don't go [crying], "Oh, I'll never be that fast, I'll never be that strong!" When people look at Michelangelo's David, do they commit suicide? No. See what I mean? When you see a strong person, a fast person, you go, "Wow! That is fabulous." When you see a beautiful person: "How beautiful." That's what I'm bringing back to feminism. You go, "What a beautiful person, what a beautiful man, what a beautiful woman, what beautiful hair, what beautiful boobs!" Okay, now I'll be charged with sexual harassment, probably. I won't even be able to get out of the room!And, from 1996, asked by The Yale Journal of Ethics, about her idea "that seduction needs encouragement in our society," she says:
For all the talk and hysteria about date rape, the reality is not overly libidinous men. The main problem is that men are shrinking.Chocolate Boy, is she talking to you?
Not at the football schools...Wisconsin!
.... where men are men, where athletes rule, where the [women] are happy to be women and be very glamorous young women too. There are a very small number of sexual identity problems clustered in gay activist and feminist organizations....Hardly visible and softly visible, gently nudging us to feel moral pangs — pangy-wangs — about the participating in football that is the watching of football. Ah! I suddenly see — Camille is helping me — what is the psychic core of Chocolate Boy's anxiety when he wrote: "I can no longer indulge these pleasures without feeling complicit." Deep down, he wants to believe he's complicit, because that would mean he's kinda — sorta — part of football.
There is a disastrous problem with sexual identity at the elite schools. I don't know whether the young women see the kind of young men who are going to these schools as very sexually aggressive or intrusive, but that is not the case. From Williams to Brown to Yale, the young men are fresh faced, genteel bourgeois boys who were raised in professional households with very active mothers. They are boys with good manners, boys who are very sensitive, boys with their masculinity hardly visible.
Perhaps when the softly, hardly man watches football he does feel like crying "Oh, I'll never be that fast, I'll never be that strong!" When men look at Richard Sherman, do they still go, "Wow! That is fabulous," or have they drifted into Naomi Wolfish crying "Oh, I'll never be that beautiful"? Or do they find a way to say: I am that fast and strong and beautiful... I am Richard Sherman... through the mystical process of moral complicity.
Think about it, Mr. Almond. Look closely and see:
I love the tension... the ornate structure... the improvisatory chaos...