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Camille Paglia's rant

Camille Paglia's rant

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Author chides transgender rights movement, pop culture and even Lady Gaga
Lesbian art critic Camille Paglia provoked controversy in the 1990s by attacking “gay Stalinists” – queer folks with inflexible ideology – who she saw turning the gay liberation movement into a radical, ineffectual faction.
 
Despite this, a love for all queer culture is on clear display in her new book, Glittering Images, a survey of some of the greatest works of Western art. Paglia recently spoke about it to a packed audience at the Art Gallery of Ontario in Toronto.  
           
Glittering Images celebrates the gay community for keeping the art deco style alive. In one chapter Paglia argues that gay 1960s icon Andy Warhol is the true genius of modern art. In another, Walter Pater and Oscar Wilde – the 19th-century art critics who helped create modern gay-male style – are feted as visionaries.
 
Paglia’s aim is to challenge social conservatives to rethink their puritanical rejection of sensual pleasure and the arts. It also fixes on progressives, challenging them to reconsider the rejection of religion that is so often a part of leftism.
 
Paglia is an atheist. In her view, agnostic and atheist queers have a duty to appreciate the artistic and philosophical riches that exist in all faiths, including the homophobic religions. To do less is a disservice not only to radicalism, but also to the movement for art appreciation that is Paglia’s own crusade. She thinks that meditation on art can replace religion as the answer to spiritual hunger. 
 
Paglia has not given up criticizing “the gay Stalinists.”
 
“Gay culture today is becoming totally marginal and irrelevant,” she says. “Gay youth have been done a terrible disservice by the movement, which doesn’t teach them about their great heritage of art and style.” 
 
She cites the modern transgender rights movement as an example of reactionary queer thinking.
 
“I identify strongly with drag queens and transsexuals, particularly as they were in the '60s. They were fierce and powerful. They were street warriors,” she says. “Some might have had bits and pieces of [sex-change] surgery. But the focus now is on 'transgender,’ which has gotten rigidly ideological.”
 
Paglia recalls speaking at a gender issues debate at Yale University earlier this year. Many members of Yale’s transgender student group attended. They struck her as uninterested in the history of gender expression in art and culture and “fixated on angry slogans.”
 
“The movement has denied them a true education. It pains me, because I’ve struggled with gender identity my entire life.”  (Paglia has written that she might have been a female-to-male transsexual had the option existed in her 1950s youth but that she is now comfortable with her “permanently ambiguous sexual identity.”)
 
“My point is that the transgender movement’s focus on manipulating the physical, through surgery, is too often a way of avoiding introspection. We have an obligation as human beings to engage in self-examination – to seek self-understanding, apart from the social and the physical. 
 
“Youth are falling into a trap of thinking that sex change will solve their deeper problems – their spiritual problems. But it can’t.”
 
Paglia’s point is not that all trans people are delusional or misled. She cites Holly Woodlawn, the trans woman who was one of Andy Warhol’s muses, as an example of a great transsexual and artist. Rather, she fears that some of the trans youth she sees are doing themselves a disservice by focusing on the physical and hormonal, rather than on the spiritual, the artistic and the inner.
 
“It’s a pill-based psychology, in search of easy solutions,” she says. “It’s shallow.”
           
According to Paglia, what today’s queer youth need is the kind of introspection that only contemplation of art can bring. 
 
“It’s sometimes said I’m just a baby boomer who can’t appreciate anything new -- that I’m stuck on this false idea that only the pop culture of the 1960s and '70s had any value,” Paglia says.  “But I’m sorry, pop culture has declined!”
 
She compares Lady Gaga to David Bowie by way of explanation.
 
“Lady Gaga is a fraud. She’s surrounded by all of these gay men who are advising her, telling her what to wear, what to say, but everything about her is derivative. Everything is stolen from another artist.”
 
Bowie, by contrast, stands for Paglia as a great queer artist. She recently completed a major essay on Bowie and gender, commissioned by the Victoria and Albert Museum for its catalogue about an upcoming exhibition of Bowie’s costumes.
 
“His music was revolutionary and genius. And Bowie was certainly bisexual in the Ziggy Stardust period. His music had amazing frank sexual energy. When we look at Bowie, we see true art. But Gaga is just a fake.”
 
 
           
  
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Comments

yes!
She rightly identifies the ideological streak in Trans discourse, and she is correct to say that body modification will not solve any deeper emotional issues.

And yes, Lady Gaga is derivative and tedious!

While I don't endorse the value of Paglia's art criticism (George Lucas as the premier artist of our time? Please!), her social commentary here is on target.
` and ‘ are not ’
Congrats on misencoding an apostrophe two different ways in the same paragraph, a new record. Somebody buy Aidan a Selectric.
the TransReich stabs lesbian in the face again
Did the "author" of this rant even attend the event (3 weeks ago) or did ze see another opportunity to trash the non-trans Paglia for her non-party line views on TransInc. The TransReich rules in Toronto especially at Xtra.
trans treason triggers terror tirades
Gerhardt, thank you for some actual intelligence and analysis. Very insightful. However, it is too late for lessons since history (or should I say zimstory) has already been rewritten with Trans anything as the central character in all former homosexual social, cultural or political activities. Paglia is Paglia and shits on everything, but she shit on the new gatekeepers of "Queer": the Trans. Rewritten Queer history lesson 101: You criticize anything trans, you get cut. Got it.
All Trans surgery IS mutilation.
All Trans surgery is mutilation. To surgically reshape a penis to resemble a vagina is mutilation and a sham. Female reproductive organs are much more complex than creating a hole. Another sham is the idea that it is possible to recreate a piece of muscle stripped from the body to resemble a penis. It doesn't not work —it remains flaccid. Sex change does not grow internal sexual organs of the opposite sex. So called “sex change” is a “phallusy” without genetic manipulation —which is so far medically NOT possible. “Political correctness” cannot change physiological reality. Sex change in our era is only superficial plastic surgery —and mutilation. True sex change is a myth —like it or not.
I'm sorry, what?
Seriously, Xtra. Why are you still providing a platform for someone like Paglia? After all of the shit she spewed in the 90s, as well as her most recent comment about Chaz Bono "mutilating his body", why should we even care what she has to say?
It's the losses.
"...uninterested in history,...avoiding introspection,...gay youth have done a disservice." Paglia may be right, but it's not their fault. We lost an entire generation through AIDS who could have and would have taught them what being lgbt means. The youth have no idea, not a clue but it's not their fault. Just as the Native youth were removed from their homes placed in residential schools. The Native generation since have never recovered. The result is marginalization and irrelevance. Art is dead. In Toronto alone we lost artists such as Rene Highway, Tim Jocelyn, Michael Balser (the list is endless). A community cannot expect to survive and expect to be relevant with such a loss and anything that follows will only be at best copies but still irrelevant. That's the critique and observation that needs to be expressed.
Get back to us...
when Camille Paglia is relevant again.
Somebody needs to buy a clue!
It's hard to see any difference between Camille Paglia's comments here and the nostalgic rantings of right-wing ideologues, reminiscing about the good ol' days of 1950s patriarchy.

So she liked us drag queens and transsexuals better back when we were "street warriors", huh? Ah, the good ol' days, back when we were denied basic rights, routinely harassed by the police, and risked our lives just being seen in public. And to think, trans folks nowadays are missing out on all that wonderful self-doubt and "introspection" that only abject poverty and discrimination and hatred can bring. Does she even know what life is like for us now? How sad, that transsexuals would now want "easy solutions".

Say what you want about Lady Gaga. At least she knows what century she's living in!
Physical TRANSition is basically medical DRAG
What if Trans people are not born in an “opposite sex” body? What if they were just androgynous beings who did not fit into any mono-sex body? If a person is born into an opposite sex body, and is dissatisfied with their state of being, then there are several ways of altering part of them, to adjust to the other parts. 1. One is to provide them psychological/spiritual therapy or maybe theatre training, to adapt their thinking, behaviour and identity to match the body in which they were born. 2. Another method is to try to surgically alter their body to match their gender identity. For example to surgically remodel a penis to resemble a vagina... Yet sex treatments do not make a man into a woman because the surgery does not grow ovaries, eggs, uterus not alter the male genetic characteristics in every cell of a man's body --and he still has a prostate gland. Similarly goes female to male transition —and their surgical penis remains useless flaccid meat... Physical TRANSition is basically medical DRAG. What if, at some point it is realized that surgery and hormones cause too many side effects, health hazzards, blood clots, cancer, etc. to be a viable procedure? There are Trans who regret their surgeries. And what about botched surgeries? I agree with Paglia that young people are not properly guided in various possibilities of identity through introspection. Trans supermodel and member of parliament etc., is heavily promoted propaganda by Trans activists. Trans has become glamourous in the media because trans people are so colourful and entertaining. Surgery and hormones can temporarily create something new —a change is a good as a rest...But after the newness fades, and the mirror stops lieing, and the medical traumas accumulate, the type of introspection which comes with anxiety leads to depression rather than emancipation.

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