Time magazine’s Camille Paglia article headlines with “Cyrus’s derivative stunt reveals artistically bankrupt musical culture,” and one hardly needs to read what predictably follows from everyone’s favorite anti-feminist, pro-porn, classical-sweep culture queen: Madonna, with her “daring European art-film eroticism” was artistically ground-breaking and “projected the magic of sexual allure”; Miley Cyrus should “go back to school.”
So says the professor in her analysis of big production sleeze.
But, wait a minute.
“Madonna’s derivative stunt reveals artistically bankrupt musical culture.”
Doesn’t that work, too, professor Paglia?
Paglia: “Young performers will probably never equal or surpass the genuine shocks delivered by the young Madonna.”
How do we judge “genuine shocks?”
If Madonna had to be “shocking” to be effective, what is the point of saying Madonna’s “shocks” were better than Miley’s?
Madonna “sensually rolled around in a lacy wedding dress and thumped her chest with the mike while singing “Like A Virgin” at the first MTV awards in 1984.”
It sounds to us like Ms. Ciccone and Ms. Cyrus were appealing to the same audience, and for the same reason, and only a phoney-baloney professor would attempt to make an important distinction.
Paglia does make some common sense critiques on the music industry, but when you set yourself up as an expert on sex, you’re just another dignified professor covered in mud.
Remember! An expert’s farts are not just farts!
“Sex has been a crucial component of the entertainment industry since the seductive vamps of silent film and the bawdy big mamas of roadhouse blues.”
But what if an audience finds 20 year old Miley Cyrus prancing about sexually sexier than “bawdy big mamas of roadhouse blues?”
Is it about sexiness, or not, professor? If it’s not about sex, then don’t say, “Sex has been a crucial component…” And if it is about sex, all bets are off. Even if one argues that the issue is really about ‘sex-under-the-surface,’ to say that Miley Cyrus ‘crossed a line’ makes no sense, because obviously that “line” has moved a bit since those “bawdy big mamas” entertained us in the 1920s.
Young performers today are “consumed with packaging and attitude,” says professor Paglia—as she defends Madonna.
We can argue like this forever, but here’s the real lesson to all this, and it really applies to art:
Art’s function is really a very small one.
Life is so vast in comparison to art, that art barely occupies a place in it.
Further, art is not really a part of life at all; art is truly art only in that subset of Life called ‘How To Deal With Life.’
By art, we include the Criticism of Art by those like Camille Paglia.
Things like sex overwhelm us, and so to deal with forces like sex, we call on art to protect us, that is, to tell us how much is too much.
Paglia’s finger-wagging at Miley Cyrus is a small example of what art does for us.
It doesn’t matter how sophisticated or amoral the critic or the artist present themselves to us.
The secret reason for art eclipses everything else we might say about it.
Art, despite the common wisdom, is really an act of censorship, not expression.
Art is a police action.