F*ck off you crazy old dyke
November 24, 2001 5:37 AM   Subscribe

F*ck off you crazy old dyke In 1993 Camille Paglia and Julie Burchill had this fax exchange over a book review Burchill had done for the Spectator. This brings back all that 80s anti-PC, pro pop culture journalism I loved so much in my youth. Pity both Paglia and Burchill seem to have had their time and run out of ideas. Sorry this is so old, but I only learnt about it while reading Toby Young's How to Lose Friends and Alienate People
posted by Summer (30 comments total)
Wow, thanks for that link, Summer. I can't say that I'm terribly surprised by Julie's slide into the mud, but I always figured Camille to be a bit more of a class act than that. I also have to confess to picturing the famous Dynasty catfight between Alexis/Krystle in the pond while reading this. Back to the re-education camps for me.
posted by MrBaliHai at 7:22 AM on November 24, 2001

Well, that was a very special cat fight, now wasn't it? I need Paglia's email addy though. I want to know which pet store might be selling those "pig fucking cunts" she so eloquently referenced.
posted by MAYORBOB at 7:49 AM on November 24, 2001

a sheltered, pampered sultan of slick, snide wordplay
I'll bookmark this one along with the Chicken McMencken section here for invective resources online
posted by y2karl at 8:32 AM on November 24, 2001

camille paglia a 'class act'? please.
posted by maura at 9:00 AM on November 24, 2001

maura: compared to the snide, lowbrow nastiness of Jules Burchill which was her stock-in-trade during her years at NME, yes, Camille's prose seemed far more erudite and refined...until I read this. Her putdowns were slicker and more insidious than Ms. Burchill's but they're obviously rolling in the same gutter.
posted by MrBaliHai at 9:56 AM on November 24, 2001

What maura said. Camille Paglia is the worst kind of human - the one that elevates herself by stomping down everyone around her. She is the textbook definition of User.
posted by kristin at 9:59 AM on November 24, 2001

They're both Laura Schlessingers- they wail loudly and revel in being inconsistent. If it weren't published, I'd say it was an urban legend, although catfight urban legends tend to be more fun.
posted by headspace at 10:48 AM on November 24, 2001

This is simply an example of male Appolonian fear of Dionysian woman's power, for it is within the Dionysian that --


posted by solistrato at 11:02 AM on November 24, 2001 [1 favorite]

Sadly, Ms. Paglia seems to be as skilless at invective as she is at... well, everything else. But the whole thing did have some entertaining moments.
posted by moss at 11:05 AM on November 24, 2001

Touché, solistrato ...
posted by dhartung at 11:18 AM on November 24, 2001

Extract from Toby Young's book at his website. (I've linked to it before, but it seems appropriate here.)
posted by liam at 11:58 AM on November 24, 2001

those "pig fucking cunts" she so eloquently referenced.
are these Paglia's words or Eric Cartman's?
posted by matteo at 12:38 PM on November 24, 2001

Paglia seems more concerned with composing run-on sentences laden with $50 words to justify and uphold her status as an intellectual, a member of "academia", than effectively making her point. Seems like a combination of insecurity and a very, very high horse.
posted by tomorama at 12:49 PM on November 24, 2001

If anyone's considering buying Toby Young's book I'd recommend it, just to congratulate yourself that you're not him.
posted by Summer at 2:38 PM on November 24, 2001

Now, in Paglia's defense, Sexual Personae is a fabulous read, even if you disagree with all of her conclusions. It gets you thinking, and as a non-English-major-type person, it's a great reintroduction to works that were drearily forced on me as a public school student. It's not a scholarly work, really - it's much too opinionated for that, it seems (correct me if I'm wrong) - but it's still a tour de force and I still occasionally refer to it.

The depressing thing is that she suddenly became this celebrity in the worst meaning of the word, where she ditches any scholarly or intellectual ambitions to be this caricature of an Italian Amazon loudmouth dyke, shrieking about those awful feminists in the Ivy League schools and Madonna and pop culture and jesus, Camille, could you just shut up for once? While I enjoyed her column at Salon at first, it quickly became apparent that she had pitifully overextended herself, as her analysis of news and media events were just sophomoric at best, and partisan at worst.

Tomorama: Paglia teaches at the Philadelphia College of Art and Design, which is not exactly world-renowned for its humanities department. She has a huge chip on her shoulders about the Ivy League which stems from her experience at Yale. She clearly relishes thinking of herself as some sort of gonzo outsider, carrying the Torch of Truth in the wilderness while the Romans gorge themselves in decadence. And she definitely appears to equate "intelligence" with "agreeing with me."
posted by solistrato at 3:53 PM on November 24, 2001 [1 favorite]

solistrato - I'm not sure on that last point. I think that, for Paglia, its more about 'disagreeing with the same people that I disagree with.' She does have a chip on her shoulder, and its very much at the academic establishment and their viral party line.
posted by hipstertrash at 4:58 PM on November 24, 2001

maura- do not disrespect my main lady Camille Paglia, the last true american feminist. Foul-mouthed, Italian, smart and libertarian to boot. Too bad she's gay or I'd buy her a drink.
posted by jonmc at 5:39 PM on November 24, 2001

jon - if she wasn't gay and if i wasn't engaged, i'd volunteer to be her boytoy.
posted by hipstertrash at 6:00 PM on November 24, 2001

hipster- crazy as she is she'd probably take you up on it!
posted by jonmc at 6:57 PM on November 24, 2001

hipstertrash - I can see that as well. Now that I think about it, she actually hasn't advanced any alternate feminist theory. All she's done is rail against the excesses of institutionalized academic feminism. Which is fine as far as it goes, but in the end she occupies the same moral dilemna as Adbusters: to paraphrase Dean Allen, pointing and standing does not equal change.

And she may have a point, but never having attended an Ivy League school and come face to face with these insidious Fifth Columnists, I don't know if it's valid.
posted by solistrato at 10:27 PM on November 24, 2001

it figures that a man would call camille paglia a 'true american feminist.' please. she's only a feminist in that she's as willing to shit all over women as she is willing to shit all over men to get ahead. otherwise, she's a howling bag of 'look at me, i'm being DIFFERENT!' and erecting straw women that she can efficiently knock down, all for the sake of garnering more ink and having additional 'well, i was featured in [insert name of publication here]' cred so she can bypass any actual arguments her critics might have.

nb: the philadelphia college of art and design has changed its name to the university of the arts, in the increasing trend of 'elevation of status through inflation of name.'
posted by maura at 6:40 AM on November 25, 2001

I remember Paglia once saying that rape was an outpouring of erotic emotion on the part of the man, or some such nonsense. She also went on about how early pictures of Princess Di were as culturally valuable as a Michelangelo. I didn't take much notice of her after that.
posted by Summer at 6:55 AM on November 25, 2001

Maura: Any woman who lists every article in which she's been mentioned (the back of Sex, Art and American Culture), including a Spy parody titled "Camilla Paglia: Superteen!", has problems.

Summer: Paglia actually has two rape threads. The first is an analysis of rape as a trope in literature, specifically within The Faerie Queene. Where she got into real trouble was when she decided to become the "I'll Put Common Sense Back Into The Date Rape Issue" lady. Because once she started talking about that, and there was a reaction from academic feminists, it suddenly became, "Look, they're attacking me! I'm right because these shrill WASPs are attacking me!!!!!" (Her magnificent date-rape theory? Summed up, if you get drunk at a frat party by yourself, you're courting trouble. Um, DUH?)

I've also never seen anyone get such mileage as her ethnicity as Paglia. And it's not even like she's black or Puerto Rican or Native American - she's Italian! Shut the fuck up, already!

And as for the Diana/Michaelangelo thing: Paglia simply has no grasp of the mechanical reproduction of images that is the hallmark of this modern age. She's absolutely media-illiterate.
posted by solistrato at 12:22 PM on November 25, 2001

I've seen wittier and better-written flamewars on Usenet. What the hell happened? I mean, for two women who both claim to be at the top of their game, the whole argument basically came down to your basic school-yard insults dressed up with collegiate synonyms. Neither mustered up anything Shaw, Wilde, or Parker couldn't have made mincemeat out of. Lackluster.
posted by Hildago at 3:57 PM on November 25, 2001

I miss reading Camille Paglia's columns at Salon.com. [tear, sniffle]
posted by verdezza at 11:19 PM on November 25, 2001

"As a pathological user of self-aggrandising epithets..." Blah blah blah: oh fuck off Camille and do some proper research for the first time since grad school. (Conversely, anyone who's even heard Julie Burchill interviewed will always find the disparity between her spoken and written voices a source of amusement.)
posted by holgate at 6:29 AM on November 26, 2001

Um, DUH?

Quite to the point. (Though that point gets spun one way or the other by the speaker's agenda.) I think both Paglia and fellow underinformed media whore culture-scold Andrew Sullivan are playing a game of strategic ignorance because it's about their careers, not journalism.

I blame the media. Well, no, but scolds do propagate well don't they?

(Nothing wrong with euro-americans "using their ethnicity", ethnicity is there for everyone, not just the culturally "marked". But coasting on it is just as time-wasting.)
posted by retrofut at 1:08 PM on November 26, 2001

(Hmmm... Paglia and Sullivan are two of my favorite social theorists. Not that I agree with everything they say; far from it. But they sure do make me think.)
posted by verdezza at 11:15 PM on November 26, 2001

Update on Julie B: "Columnist Julie Burchill is writing a sexually explicit children's book about the lesbian relationship between two teenage girls...Burchill herself had a much publicised lesbian affair with writer Charlotte Raven, before she left her for her brother [Daniel Raven]."

Sometimes I'm perversely nostalgic for the bad old days, when lesbians (and I am one!) were "Women in the Shadows, silent about our love lives!
posted by Carol Anne at 5:59 AM on November 27, 2001

Verdezza, I'm glad you have good and thoughtful experiences with the climax golden twins. The ability of the creative human mind to do so given such low-grade ore is nothing short of inspiring. (Me, I plan to read Franzen's NBA novel to see if the prose is as awful as the excerpts I've read, and if I can find what it was that made it an award-winner.)

I'd write more about Sullivan here, but it's really off-topic.

I think Burchill got the better of the Queen of the Shut-ins. Her (co-written) punk book (The Boy Looked at Johnny?) is half fantasy world but the prose is so scabrous, it's like a really mean Lester Bangs.
posted by retrofut at 12:01 PM on November 27, 2001

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