Paglia Responds to Readers

April 8th, 2009

Camille Paglia writes a column on Salon.com once each month.  Every third column consists of her responses to questions and comments from readers.  Her are a few samples from the column published today:

On President Obama’s responsibility for selecting inadequate advisors and staff:

Obama’s staffing problems are blatant—from that bleating boy of a treasury secretary to what appears to be a total vacuum where a chief of protocol should be. There has been one needless gaffe after another—from the president’s tacky appearance on a late-night comedy show to the kitsch gifts given to the British prime minister, followed by the sweater-clad first lady’s over-familiarity with the queen and culminating in the jaw-dropping spectacle of a president of the United States bowing to the king of Saudi Arabia. Why was protest about the latter indignity confined to conservatives? The silence of the major media was a disgrace. But I attribute that embarrassing incident not to Obama’s sinister or naive appeasement of the Muslim world but to a simple if costly breakdown in basic command of protocol.

Paglia on the ugliness of contemporary liberalism:

Yes, something very ugly has surfaced in contemporary American liberalism, as evidenced by the irrational and sometimes infantile abuse directed toward anyone who strays from a strict party line. Liberalism, like second-wave feminism, seems to have become a new religion for those who profess contempt for religion. It has been reduced to an elitist set of rhetorical formulas, which posit the working class as passive, mindless victims in desperate need of salvation by the state. Individual rights and free expression, which used to be liberal values, are being gradually subsumed to worship of government power. …

For the past 25 years, liberalism has gradually sunk into a soft, soggy, white upper-middle-class style that I often find preposterous and repellent. The nut cases on the right are on the uneducated fringe, but on the left they sport Ivy League degrees. … Conservatives these days are more geared to facts than emotions, and as individuals they seem to have a more ethical, perhaps sports-based sense of fair play.

On a gay man’s commentary on media refusal to cover a case of a straight man murdered by gays in Washington, D.C.:

From your description of the appalling news blackout on this crime, it appears to be a blatant case of politically correct censorship. The 11th commandment of the liberal mainstream media is that no evil shalt be spoken of any gay persons, who have been sanctified by their precious victim status, without which liberalism would implode.

This last item is a reader’s wonderfully sarcastic classical burlesque parody of the movie “Titanic”, for which Paglia has long advocated that Kate Winslet should have won an Academy Award: 

Camille, how can an educated, classy woman like you not see through that horrific film “Titanic”?

Kate Winslet’s character, Rose, was one of the vilest and most disgusting characters ever to grace the silver screen. From beginning to end, she displayed nothing but character flaws and a lack of concern for everyone else around her. As the movie starts, she is a rich brat who is depressed that she has to marry an incredibly rich and handsome man because he treats her badly. Perhaps she should have taken into account his personality rather than his bank account when she accepted his proposal.

Rather than take responsibility for her own actions, stand up to her mother, and tell him to his face that she is not in love with him, she instead decides to take the easy way out and kill herself. Now, the whole world would be better had she just jumped off the back of that damn boat. Instead, our boy Leonardo DiCaprio talks her down from the ledge, and she sees him and thinks, “Ooh, cute poor boy.” So then she decides to slum it for the weekend and hook up with the cute poor kid. Then, to prove her total lack of morals, she decides that she will ask Jack to “draw her”—naked, of course.

So, while engaged to someone else (because she never had the decency to call it off), she decides to get naked for a guy she has known for all of about 24 hours. Immediately afterward it’s time to consummate the hours-old relationship in the back of a car that is not theirs. Wow, that’s a real “moral” Victorian woman for you! Of course, that is not enough. The ship hits the iceberg (we didn’t see that one coming). By the way, she was on deck when that happened. I wonder if our lookout was too busy snooping on her and Jack to notice the iceberg. Maybe it’s actually her fault the ship sinks in the first place.

Anyway, our hero Jack puts Rose on a lifeboat. Of course, being safe is not enough, so she jumps back onto the sinking ship—a prime example of great decision-making. After it goes down, Jack is safe on a door of some sort, but he has to give up his spot to save Rose. Now Rose is on the door, and Jack is stuck in the freezing waters. So in a sense she kills Jack in a slow, frigid, painful way—sort of like the experience I felt while watching this movie. She holds on to Jack’s shivering hand, telling him, “I’ll never let go, Jack, I’ll never let go.” Of course, after a few minutes in Arctic waters, Jack’s hand is no longer shivering. Winslet, in tears, continues, “I’ll never let go, Jack, I’ll never let go.” Around then, the lifeboat arrives, and Winslet immediately lets go, “Hey, I’m over here!” Jack sinks to the bottom of the ocean, and Ms. Winslet grabs a spot on the lifeboat. Real nice, Kate, real nice: Whatever happened to never letting go?

We then hear the rest of Winslet’s life. Her fiancé loses his mind and ends up killing himself (you’re two for two, Kate). However, she finds a nice man, marries him, and lives a great life. Eventually, he dies (I wonder what she did to make that happen), and we see Winslet’s Rose again at age—I don’t know, let’s say 126—with her granddaughter or whoever is on the ship trying to find the Titanic’s wreckage. At the end of the film, Rose walks to the back of the ship and takes the priceless diamond necklace that she could give to her grandchildren, which would set her family up for generations, but instead she throws the freaking necklace into the ocean! Queue overplayed, overhyped and over-sung Celine Dion song (I mean, seriously, by the end she is practically screaming the lyrics—like Celine, we get it, you have a great voice, stop assaulting us with it already).

Back to throwing the fancy necklace: She might as well have thrown three generations of her family over the side of the ship. Could she possibly be more selfish? Well, yes, she could, because then, apparently Rose dies, and we see her in heaven. For some reason, heaven is the Titanic (not exactly what I picture paradise to be). She opens up a stateroom door, and there is Leonardo’s Jack waiting for her in bed. Not her actual husband, mind you, but Jack. So she is even cheating on her husband in heaven.

I rest my case. The vilest, most horrifying character in cinematic history. An Academy Award for playing the she-devil would be one of the greatest travesties in mankind’s history since … the actual Titanic.

I couldn’t agree more!  After about an hour and a half of this odious movie, with the insipid Kate and Leonardo love story dragging on endlessly, I found myself muttering, “Sink the boat, will you please?  Just sink the damn boat!”


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6 Responses to “Paglia Responds to Readers”



  1. Kevin |

    LOL – okay, I guess I can see interpreting a columnist as comedy. There’s some pretty funny stuff there! Although her constant flogging of the “liberal mainstream media” would seem to be a better fit at FAUX News than at Salon. Ah, but then she’d be employed by the proof against her own meme. But since when does comedy have to be internally consistent?


  2. Brad |

    That’s HYSTERICAL! Whining about bowing to a Saudi after Bush literally kissed him and held his hand all over the White House lawn? Seriously?


  3. Tom |

    Brad, bowing to a foreign monarch is a serious faux pas for an American president. It shows submission, deference, and inferiority to another head of state. American presidents have never done that, as an important statement of equality with all other heads of state.

    I agree with Paglia that while this is an embarrassment, it probably indicates nothing more than Obama’s lack of experience and weak staff preparation.

    However, his slights to the UK and not bowing to the Queen could be cause to wonder why he would then choose to show submission to the monarch of one of the most backward and repressive regimes on earth.

    As far as holding hands is concerned, Saudi men do it all the time. It signifies nothing more than friendship. And pecking each other on the cheek is a very common friendly greeting in many societies.


  4. The Phantom |

    Most people don’t know that back in 1912, Hellman’s mayonnaise was manufactured in England. The “Titanic” was carrying 12,000 jars of the condiment scheduled for delivery in Vera Cruz, Mexico, which was to be the next port of call for the great ship after New York City.

    The Mexican people, who had developed a real taste for the condiment, were eagerly awaiting delivery and were disconsolate at the loss. So much so that they declared a national day of mourning which they still observe today. It is known, of course, as Sinko de Mayo.


  5. doris |

    LOL, that was a good one…albeit politically incorrect, I guess that’s why the Phantom? Hey, I don’t mind blonde jokes. I think Obama was trying to show our country’s new attitude toward Muslims, and in his overzealousness, he forgot it was not done by a president of the almighty U.S.A. Bush was in bed with the Saudis all along and you guys didn’t mind that. I don’t feel that Obama did anything wrong in that instance, he was following their customs and trying to mend fences. We need a lot of that as other countries have a very low opinion of us, and we just might need their money to bail out more rich folk??????


  6. Tom |

    Geez, Phantom, what a lame joke. But mildly chucklable. As my cursor hovered over the delete button, I thought, “What the heck; might as well spread it.”


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