Sigh, why do the days of rival female superstars dressing up like brides and sucking each other’s tongues on confetti-strewn platforms feel so far away? Now it's like you can't open a magazine without seeing white women in a pinnafore grinning inanely at you from within a sugar-coated, 1950’s cliché. Right...? Well according to Camille Paglia you can't, anyway. Her piece in The Hollywood Reporter suggests that the financially comfortable white female youth of today are having their integrity sapped out of them by an onslaught of twee, vacuous female role models like Taylor Swift and Katy Perry.
I know I had a bit of a go at Zooey Deschanel for being a human wrecking ball of kitsch, but Paglia's taken it to a whole other level, arguing that white American chicks have been "ruined" by timid female celebrities. Her piece is pretty long and pretty strange, but basically she reckons middle class white girls have totally lost their edge. Instead of looking to idols that oozed the sex appeal and superior intellect of, say, Britney Spears or Baby Spice, we're forced to look up to Martha Stewart dress-a-likes who'll attend the opening of an envelope and smile like they've just been attacked by a Glaswegian gangster. Cute.
Paglia reckons that due to a general first-world white girl apathy – not reflected in, but actively constructed by ageless, colourless female celebrities – we’re losing our voice, our passion and our right to get fucked up. Our sexuality, liberation and personality has been dissolved in an acid bath of white and red polka dot bustiers from Forever 21 and our music is dominated by those two fictionalised concerns that the patriarchy wants young girls to have: falling in love and breaking up with boys. Because I never worried about that stuff when I was 15, obviously.
Camille is crystal clear about the (stupid) direct link between affluence, skin colour and character lobotomies, and she’s written a whole article about why white girl apathy is spreading quicker than herpes at a Christian abstinence camp. However, rather than simply explain to you why the majority of music you sing along to when you’re hungover is a secret plot to undo the progress feminism has made in the last 30 years, I’ve written you a guide: How to shake that white girl apathy! Shake it like a polaroid picture, etc. (No, seriously.)
1. GET OPPRESSED
According to Camille, it’s the sexism of “urban rappers” that currently causes every non-white female singer to avoid the bubblegum pop curse and retain a “brazen street sass”. In contrast, the middle class has been coddled by liberalism, breeding a culture of “slacker white boys nagged by the PC thought-police into suppressing their masculinity”, who won’t even slap a bitch for stepping out of line. If my boyfriend doesn't laugh in my face when I drink too many VodCran's and run my mouth off about his ex, or don't shut up when he wants to play Kendrick Lamar's album for the third time, what am I supposed to spend my time fussing about?
Quite offensive there, Camille, but not as offensive as your idea that women need to be oppressed to create something viable. If you’re complaining about white girls experiencing less prejudice and therefore being less able to perform properly, you need to seriously reassess your understanding of what a general feminist goal entails. I don’t think you’ve quite grasped it yet. Anyway, step one: Get yourself an abusive boyfriend.
2. DON’T SMILE
Smiling – when you’re a fucked up bitch like Katy Perry – is the ultimate deception. We all know that Katy Perry’s marriage failed and she’s never going to be Cher, so the fact that she would even dare to flash a grin makes her look like “a manic cyborg cheerleader, obliviously whooping it up while her team gets pounded into the mud”. Camille should sit Katy down and explain to her all the reasons why it’s totally inappropriate for her to pretend to have a good time when she’s earning all those millions of dollars and living out her dreams. Her life is shit, OK?
3. GET UNDRESSED
Next is Paglia’s advice to get your kit off, talk about getting your kit off and sing about getting your kit off. Preferably while “lustily imbibing, gambolling in the waves and lolling” around, like Rihanna. Apparently it’s this kind of overt sexuality that represents true freedom of expression for modern women. Frigid girls can get lost, basically. While I can appreciate that the louche, dark sexiness of Rihanna and Beyonce’s music certainly seems to come from a place of experience, it’s slightly worrying that Paglia doesn’t understand the music industry conspiracy to sell records.
Sure, the Rihanna stereotype might be less annoying than the Katy Perry one, but it’s still precisely that – a stereotype devised to appeal to a huge majority. However, I have to admit I'm with Paglia re: Katy Perry seeming like possibly the most annoying person in the universe. And despite the whole getting smashed in the face with a Blackberry by the man you love, nobody can really argue with the assertion that Rihanna is basically the "pleasure principle writ large". That's a pretty good description, Camille, I'll give you that.
4. DON’T BE BLONDE
Oh yeah, and Camille hates blondes, because all she can see reflected in yellow hair is “the insipid, bleached-out personas of Taylor Swift and Katy Perry”. I’m starting to think that Paglia is actually just kind of insane. She finishes the whole piece with a ramble about how there are no successful grown-up women in Hollywood, having opened with the assertion that Oprah Winfrey was the highest paid woman of 2012, earning nearly $100m more than runner up Britney. Anyway, putting her mental health and personal agenda aside for a minute, Paglia reckons “blonde oppressors” inspire a “cultivated blandness”. I mean, take a minute to think of all those bland bitches. You know, like the Nazis, Nicole Kidman in Eyes Wide Shut and Anna Nicole Smith. Yawwwwn. Grab that Crazy Colour and get cultured, girls.
5. DON’T BOTHER
Oh yeah, unless you have a “multicultural background” or a time machine, you’re pretty much damned to apathy and a nice, non-abusive boyfriend. The only mildly relevant white woman Paglia likes is Madonna, and everyone knows Madonna lost it after American Life. Otherwise you need to be Elizabeth Taylor, Connie Francis, Natalie Wood or somebody else who was lucky enough to be alive during the sexual revolution and is therefore allowed to be a feminist. Get lost, you stupid, young, succesful, beautiful wannabes.
Follow Bertie on Twitter: @bertiebrandes
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