Watch What Happens Live’s mix of high and low culture may have just hit its zenith. Camille Paglia and Ana Quincones discussing the no-need-to-feel-guilty pleasure of the Real Housewives? Sublime.
When Paglia wrote Sexual Personae in the early 1990s, it was an interesting moment in culture. A hard core academic treatment of feminism, art, and sexuality was inexplicably a best-seller. As a personality, they don’t come a whole lot more irritating than Camille Paglia. But I love what she makes us think about. She legitimizes popular culture (which I love) and she’s really, really smart!
One thing that really intrigued me was her answer to a viewer questioning if showing women bickering – and sometimes full-on fighting – was bad for women and encouraged misogynistic views. This is a question that’s dogged me, too. I consider myself an unapologetic feminist and I sometimes have a hard time articulating why I don’t think these shows are “bad for women.” Paglia’s response was that it is a “display of honest emotion in a time when emotion is so repressed.” That feels so true to me. When women display strong emotion that isn’t just about how much they love their kids, people freak the f**k out. It’s the same reason why the Twilight and 50 Shades of Gray series are trivialized, right? Twilight is “for girls” and 50 Shades is “mommy porn.” Although I haven’t read any of those books, I gather they’re not outstanding works of literature. But that’s hardly the point. They are denigrated in a way that other works are not because they deal with specifically female longings. And I guess it’s a lot easier to giggle at “mommy porn” than it is to confront the terrifying realization that millions of suburban women have extremely dark desires. Anyhoo. Moving on. Continue reading