Archive - Aug 2007

August 20th

Snark Is Not Cheese

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Memo to Camille Paglia: SHUT THE FUCK UP.

Lest you think I'm some heartless cad seeking to silence an important Women's Voice, allow me to clarify. Paglia can keep writing books and appearing on talk shows if she likes. Just so long as she puts a mercy bullet in the empty brain pan of her monthly Salon column.

Whenever I find myself - for one reason or another - reading the thing, I can't help but think that someone, somewhere, has drastically misinterpreted the value of being provocative. Art should be provocative. Especially in the glory days of passive consumption, art should provoke a reaction in the audience. But an air horn, set off five inches behind the right ear, will also provoke a reaction, and that doesn't mean the air horn has something to say.

Paglia's Salon columns contain two basic types of writing: Shit We Already Know, and Stupid Shit. And despite the stated raison d'etre of this column, it's the first that's actually the most irritating.

See, Paglia writes her column once a month. Which is nice work, if you can get it. She's writing a monthly column, for a publication devoted to politics and current events. On the Internet. Where a month is, for all practical intents and purposes, an eternity. Snark does not age well. It's like she's been saving up Styrofoam boxes of Cheesecake Factory leftovers in her fridge for a month, microwaving them until they're warm, and serving up a bunch of moldy insights that weren't that fucking great when they were fresh.

For example, did you know that Elizabeth Edwards and Ann Coulter got into a verbal tussle on cable news? SO DID I. It was one of those things that we all sort of gave a vague shit about for a day or two while it was happening, but has proven, with the passage of time, utterly irrelevant. Thank fuck Camille Paglia was there to breezily recap it for us so that she could tell us how terribly bored she is with primary season!

Other things you may not have known, if Paglia had not come along to type it: The Iraq war is bad, terrorists are scary, and Ingmar Bergman and Michelangelo Antonioni are dead. I'm not sure what the fuck she accomplishes by telling us this, other than making my bridge-collapse column seem topical, but the dead directors thing does allow her to segue into her second section, cultural snobbery.

Now, I would love elitism as much as the next guy, if the next guy weren't some brain-dead moose-fucker unfit to carry my metaphorical mental jockstrap. BUT. Nobody could love elitism enough to stop this from being easily the most punchable sentence I've read in months. ACTUAL QUOTE TIME!

"When Antonioni's plotless "L'Avventura" was shown at Harpur, the entire theater emptied within a half-hour -- except for the front row of me and my friends, transfixed by the aquiline profile of a very anxious Monica Vitti, her blond locks tossed this way and that, as she searched a desolate Italian island for her capriciously absent friend."

Oh, you Antonioni-respecting iconoclastic scamp! Paglia goes on to bemoan the death of the art film, thanks to the kids today with their CGI Optimi Prime and the liberal rejection of religion. No, really.

"As a professed atheist, I detest the current crop of snide manifestos against religion written by professional cynics, flâneurs and imaginatively crimped and culturally challenged scientists. The narrow mental world they project is very grim indeed -- and fatal to future art. My pagan brand of atheism is predicated on worship of both nature and art. I want the great world religions taught in every school. Secular humanism has reached a dead end -- and any liberals who don't recognize that are simply enabling the worldwide conservative reaction of fundamentalism in both Christianity and Islam."

You see, Paglia has to be a professed atheist in much the same way that George W. Bush has to be a professed good president. She has to profess it because otherwise, we might be fooled by all her worshipping, paganity, and support of the New Age movement (mentioned just prior to this quote) that she was instead a randomly-spiritualistic bundle of fashionable beliefs circa 1987.

This, I shit you not, leads directly to the conclusion that rock and roll is dead except for the Rolling Stones, who still kick ass, before finishing with praise for both Kelly Clarkson and a hip new techno-tool we all need to be made aware of ASAP, something called "YouTube".

The air horn is looking more appealing by the minute.