I have long found Camille Paglia utterly detestable. There’s nothing charming about her, nothing convivial or even in vivo about her writing. She’s a pedant. She’s a hypocrite. She mainly uses the height of her pulpit to cast long shadows or to direct her self-appointed-cognoscenti (oh yes, I went there) lackeys on where to shove ponderous push-pins into her own map of the world. She could squeeze the final dribbles of moisture from a desert with her prose alone: there’s a museum quality to any subject when she writes about it.
Why am I taking time here and now to talk about this? Well, Ms. Camille, growing ever more glacially comfortable with being an out Lesbian, decided to spew a little dust onto the Larry Craig story. She finds the whole idea of two men hooking in up a restroom to be “a bit de trop”. Can you imagine? De trop, people! (that means, in her context, “icky”).
This from the woman who thinks male urination is some kind of sexually transcendent act, but for women pissing is just “[watering] the ground she stands on”. Or squats over, in this case, a position that suits quite well her relationship with her subject most times. She blames the “PC Squad” back in the day for being pissed off that she observed “the modern male homosexual has sought ecstasy in the squalor of public toilets, for women perhaps the least erotic place on earth.” It’s all bananas and orchids, is it?
Ms. Paglia, it’s a frickin’ room that men happen congregate in for pissing (sorry, micturition), some of whom enjoy the attentions of another man or at least another hand or mouth. There’s some privacy afforded, and it happens. Men aren’t cruising toilets in search of “ecstasy”, they just want to get off. Men have no problem with sexual expediency, usually. Is that really so difficult to accept prima facie (rolling my eyes) instead of spinning a whole web of stuffy academic bullshit around it?
Later (two paragraphs later) in the Salon.com piece I linked to above, she insults the very over-intellectualized bullshit that she employs when she’s trying to show you how much better she is than you are:
Too often defamed these days as racist, imperialist piracy, archaeology has more scholarly soul than, well, most of the Ivy League’s humanities departments ensconced in their plush, airless tombs. [Ow! My sides from hypoxia!]
First, let’s just gloss over the fact that she took exactly three sentences to segue from Larry Craig to Bronze Age Crete: she skewers the Ivory Tower while standing atop it.
It gets…..ummm, better? Her next stop: Absolutely Fabulous! But you’ve been punished enough so far. Moving on…
After a brief mention of a minor early 50s film, Never Wave at a WAC, she moves on to the movie Auntie Mame also starring Rosalind Russell. (Land, ho! A segue!). Now, after dropping trou and dribbling territorial pissings on Larry Craig, the Ivory Tower, the state of field archaeology, British satire and 50s American comedies, Ms. Paglia finally delivers the punch line:
Alert, all “Auntie Mame” fans! (That sparkling 1958 movie, starring Russell and based on Patrick Dennis’ witty book, was one of the central, formative experiences of my youth — a taste inexplicably shared with battalions of gay men worldwide.)
The emphasis is mine, because I’m just overwhelmed. Because I’m so underwhelmed.
The woman who believes she totally clinched the totality of bathroom cruising with…
It’s not just furtive, closeted gay men who frequent toilets: Flamboyant pop star George Michael, who eats up stranger sex like a pastry cart of eclairs [cream-filled phalluses! bonk, bonk on the head! -Eds.] got nailed [double entendre alert, Ibid.] for soliciting a cop in a public john right across from his posh Los Angeles hotel. The sleaziness is a turn-on, probably inflamed by the hyper-distillation of testosterone smells.
…finds it “inexplicable” that gay men love the movie Auntie Mame????
She’s an idiot. Plain and simple. Why do they still give her a pulpit?
Extra credit: which one is cartoonier?
Speaking of unworthy pulpiteers, Andrew Sullivan got married. For realz.
I read it from my friend Rex first, but then scooted over to Joe.My.God. (say it sassy and it feels like praying, or something like that) because Joe and I have this weird, unpredictable overlap when it comes to Andrew Sullivan and I still haven’t found a good predictor for it yet.
After reading through a bazillion comments, after sort of agreeing with the people who hate him and sort of agreeing with the people who thought a high-profile same-sex marriage was a good thing, and after taking Rilke’s (the poet) advice about use of irony, I just decided to lay my cards on the table and comment from the heart:
I’m absolutely the last person on earth who goes in for schadenfreude.
That said, I get a kind of icky feeling that someone so hypocritical and disingenuous in public is making a “commitment” to another human being who could get hurt.
Of course I wish them well and I hope I’m wrong. In the meantime, pass the pepto.
Where does this come from for me? Well, the one experience that I goes back to when I saw that Sullivan was getting married was a few years ago when I “dated” this guy Dave for about five and a half minutes, just long enough to meet a couple of his friends and realize how amazing they were. Dave, not so much, because he had strong “types” for men in his black and white and shallow world. Great looking man, but oy. A couple of years later, after Dave had been presented with a restraining order (nothing to do with me!) and moved to the South Bay and moved somewhere else and then to Southern California then somewhere else (itinerancy takes many forms), he was up here visiting with his “fiancé” (scare-quotes only because same-sex marriage was not legal then, nor is it at the moment). I walked into the bar where he was and he comes charging over to me and says, “I’m getting married. And he’s white!” See, aside from me, Dave went in for the Latino types. Seriously. I could list the details (which he’d listed for me) of separate features of Latino men that were so important to him in a life-partner, but you can’t cross a chasm in a hundred little steps, can you? So I’ll spare you.
Anyway, Dave is who I thought of when I was figuring out my feelings towards Sullivan’s nuptials. I don’t know Andrew at all; I’ve never had direct contact with Andrew except for the reply I got after I Fedexed him a copy of Baby Be-Bop, the then-current installment of the Weetzie Bat series by Francesca Lia Block. It was three months after Allen had died and I thought the author of a book such as Virtually Normal needed some Weetzie Bat far more than I did.
I jokingly told Ronald that had I had only Sullivan and Paglia as “luminaries” guiding my path out of the Closet, I might have stayed in.
Seriously, people, how’d we end up with these two as front-runners when there are so many other, better voices out there?