And with a wave of her hand, she turned us all into glitter-soiled eunuchs.
Self-described "dissident feminist" and muck-raking pop culture critic, Camille Paglia, is known for her acerbic and offbeat critiques of the ivory tower and cultural icons. Not one to shy away from controversy, she has irritated everyone from second wave feminists, to post modern theorists, liberals, conservatives, babies, puppies, and anyone who inadvertently stumbles upon her column on Salon.com.
Even if you disagree with her or find her maddening or even offensive, there is usually an element of truth lurking in her scattershot amphetamine-fueled prose. However, her latest essay about the most talked-about pop culture phenomenon in recent history left me scratching my head. Has Paglia lost her mind, her edge, her calendar? Did she write it on an old laptop that never had the Y2K bug fixed, because it looks like she went to bed and woke up partying like it was 1999.
The Sunday Times gleefully touted an "explosive profile" of Lady Gaga by Paglia. Explosive indeed. Her excoriation of Gaga as an artist and icon is as explosive as an unfortunate meeting between Bangalore tap water and one’s colon. And it is just as messy.
Paglia just doesn’t take well to Gaga, and that is fine. Many people aren’t fans of the glittered one, and that is perfectly acceptable. But Paglia is Paglia, and anyone who displeases Paglia must undergo the Paglia treatment. In her unintentionally hilarious screed to "demolish" Lady Gaga, Paglia claims, among other things, that Gaga "represents the exhausted end of the sexual revolution." She even attempts to dismiss an entire generation, calling the tail end of Generation X on down to the Millennials, whom she dubs "Generation Gaga," a population "marooned in a global technocracy of fancy gadgets but emotional poverty" and whose adoption of text messaging left them "not attuned to facial expressions" and consequently, they are perfectly ~~KEWLIEZ~~ with Gaga’s "flat affect." (I thought the biggest enemy to ascertaining facial expressions was Botox, not text messaging, but that’s not something "Generation Gaga" is really concerned about at this time. Just sayin’.)
First, let’s talk about the assertion that Gaga single-handed stopped the sexual revolution in its tracks. After waxing poetic about various iconic sex symbols in the last 100 years, including Marlene Dietrich, Marilyn Monroe, and Madonna, Paglia writes:
"[T]he young Madonna was on fire. She was indeed the imperious Marlene [Dietrich]‘s true heir. Madonna’s incandescence is still on view in videos like "Open Your Heart," "Vogue" and "Express Yourself." But [Lady Gaga]‘s like a laminated piece of ersatz rococo furniture. Alarmingly, Generation Gaga can’t tell the difference. Is it the death of sex? Perhaps the symbolic status that sex had for a century has gone kaput; that blazing trajectory is over."
Where’s the nearest ersatz rococo furniture store? Steampunk is on its way out; I need to redecorate.