Paglia Don't Preach

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Young people are surrounded by a popular culture that is in a very degraded state….I have watched it decline over the last 15 years. Something has gone very, very wrong.

That's Madonna feminist Camille Paglia, speaking yesterday at the American Enterprise Institute and lamenting pretty much everything not-Madonna. In 90 minutes, she offered a litany of impending crises, slammed all pop culture post-1990 (the Web killed it), unveiled the perverse undertones behind the Jackson/Timberlake flap (It's not a bare breast, it's sadomasochism), denounced the Homeric reactionary impulse behind bad Monday Night Football skits, and bemoaned our Web-chained youth ("They no longer want to pick up books!") Luckily, Paglia is fun to watch no matter what the hell she is actually saying.

Watch the whole thing here.
Read Reason's 1995 interview with Paglia here.

NEXT: Pimpin' Ain't Easy

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  1. Luckily, Paglia is fun to watch no matter what the hell she is actually saying.

    Ha-ha. Yeah.

    Y’know I read somewhere that Paglia is like sex, when she’s at her best she’s great, when she’s not at her best, well she’s still pretty good. Unfortunately, I think her proponents lose sight of how the latter predominates the former. So basically what we have with Paglia is so much bad sex. Consistently fun, but rather disappointing.

  2. “They no longer want to pick up books!”

    This, of course, totally explains Harry Potter.

  3. Heh, Franklin nailed it.

    To me it seems like there are more great books being written for kids than at any time I can remember. The Harry Potter books are just the tip of the iceberg.
    I wonder how many of these books would not have seen the light of day without J.K. having made so much money.

  4. I thought only uptight nanny state fascists thought American commercial culture was degraded.

  5. I’ve never seen her speak before, but does anyone else think her speaking style bears a striking resemblance to Quentin Tarantino’s?

  6. I saw Camille the Queen of the ad Hominem in concert at the University of Texas a decade ago. She bemoaned the careerist conference-hopping of classicists and their consequent non-contributions to the field. I haven’t heard of a thing she’s contributed to the field in a decade. Is she still employed as a classicist at the Philadelphia University of the Arts?

  7. Is she still employed as a classicist at the Philadelphia University of the Arts?

    She still works there, but generally teaches stuff like “Style in Art”, where she no doubt teaches about Madonna.

  8. [This, of course, totally explains Harry Potter.]

    But Harry Potter is a series of books kids like to read <sniff>, and therefore not genuine literature. These are the same people who bitched about Tarzan and Flash Gordon when I was growing up, and in turn the “trashy” romance novels my daughter read.

    It isn’t “culture” unless it’s their culture.

  9. Screw you people. Paglia is more entertaining than any public intellectual in decades, even when she’s being silly.

  10. Paglia has a book newly out “break,blow,burn”

  11. Anyone who thinks popular culture has NOT undergone massive degradation has not looked at MTV lately.

  12. Of course pop culture has, how you say, undergone massive degradation…why else watch it?

  13. “Degradation” is a short-sighted way to put it. “Dilution” maybe. Pop-culture – there’s a lot of it, and a lot of people making it. And what goods can withstand continual increase in their manufacturing basis without some decline in overall quality?

    Not to mention the obvious subjectivity in all of this.

    On a different note, I have been reading “Break, Blow, Burn”, and I feel like I’m being edified, particularly since I’ve always felt that my liberal arts education was paltry.

  14. Of course pop culture is more degraded than it was last generation. And kids are more out of control. It’s only been that way for about, well…FOREVER.
    “These kids today, with the fire and that wheel thing…”
    Yawn.

  15. Dogzilla: Yup. With vanishingly rare exceptions, once you hit a certain point in your life, you can’t stand what the kids are doing.

  16. joe,

    I thought only uptight nanny state fascists thought American commercial culture was degraded.

    Nah, any self-righteous crank can play that game.

    Number 6,

    Paglia is more entertaining than any public intellectual in decades

    Sure…but is that really saying much? Paglia gets less entertaining once one realizes she’s bitching and moaning about the same things over and over again.

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