Moving On

Well, I think it is time to look around. For me, and for millions around the world, the Kavanaugh confirmation has become a legend, an existential battle against the darkness. But he was ceremonially sworn into office by the President last night. So, while we took casualties, foremost the nominee and his family, we won.

In other things, Trump had a winning week as well. The economy still roars, with unemployment lower than it has been since before we walked on the moon, as it is for all those categories you hear about. There is a new version of the pretty bad NAFTA treaty We produce more energy than any country in the world. North Korean (and mostly Iranian) missiles aren’t flying about.

So, let’s look at something else. Camille Paglia wrote a column for The Hollywood Reporter last week. She makes some good points. And you should read it all.

For the past century, women in the Western world have liberated themselves by shedding more and more clothing, from beaches and ballrooms to today’s boldly bare-all Instagrams.

The pro-sex wing of feminism to which I belong celebrates this historical trend, which has been accelerated by Hollywood and the fashion industry as an expression of female power and autonomy. But is there a downside? With unapologetic exhibitionism now commonplace for both workplace wear and online dating, are confused messages complicating sexual relations and deepening the divide between men and women? […]

As a veteran defender of pornography and staunch admirer of strip clubs, I have to say that an overwhelming number of today’s female-authored Instagrams seem stilted, forced and strangely unsexy. Visual illiteracy is spreading: It is sadly obvious that few young people have seen classic romantic films or studied the spectacular corpus of Hollywood publicity stills, with their gorgeous sensual allure.

While I actually defend neither, I can admit that they likely serve some purpose. Nor do I do Instagram, but I don’t have to, enough floats around in general society to say that she is, without doubt, correct. One of the things that made Hollywood’s ‘golden age’ golden was the unbelievable sensuous appeal of those female stars. What we currently get, even from Hollywood, is third or fourth rate, at best, in comparison. Mostly it is simply gross dreck or dross that reinforces my desire to have nothing whatsoever to do with the film world, even its films.

Meanwhile, a movie ostensibly about sex, like the first installment of Fifty Shades of Grey (2015), was a lifeless and clinically antiseptic bore.

No American movie in decades has approached the blazing sizzle, conveyed simply by eye contact, of the first encounter of Rhett Butler (Clark Gable) and Scarlett O’Hara (Vivien Leigh) on the grand staircase of Gone With the Wind (1939). Electrifying onscreen energy was once generated by stark sexual polarization — old-fashioned gender differences, rooted in biology. Campus gender theory, with its universal androgyny and rigid social constructionism, is box office poison.

Here’s a short list of incandescent star couplings whose heat is now rarely duplicated by Hollywood, even in its monotonous remakes: Anthony Quinn and Rita Hayworth in Blood and Sand (1941); Humphrey Bogart and Lauren Bacall in To Have and Have Not(1944); John Garfield and Lana Turner in The Postman Always Rings Twice (1946); Gary Cooper and Patricia Neal in The Fountainhead (1949); Laurence Harvey and Elizabeth Taylor in Butterfield 8 (1960); Steve McQueen and Faye Dunaway in The Thomas Crown Affair (1968); Robert Redford and Barbra Streisand in The Way We Were (1973); and Michael Douglas and Glenn Close in Fatal Attraction (1987).

It’s telling that most of these heady erotic effects were produced onscreen with virtually no nudity, which was strictly curtailed by the studio production code from the early 1930s to the late 1960s. The sexual candor of small-budget European art films inspired American moviemakers to break free of industry censorship. The next big step in liberalizing body display was the exercise boom of the 1980s, which was kicked off by Jane Fonda’s best-selling workout book and video and made skimpy, formfitting leotards an everyday fashion statement.

I could quibble a bit with her list, a couple of my favorites aren’t on it. 🙂 But no matter she is correct.

And you know that is telling. I’m no prude, I like looking at a gorgeous young woman in a bikini (or a not so young one, for that matter) just s much as the next guy, and have no particular desire to put women in T-shirts and boxers for underwear either.

The key thing is in the proper place, you know, a bikini on the beach or at the pool, the lingerie at home, neither belongs on the street. And inappropriate isn’t sexy.

The current surplus of exposed flesh in the public realm has led to a devaluation of women and, paradoxically, to sexual ennui. A sense of appropriateness and social context has been lost, as with Ariana Grande wearing a sleeveless minidress with bared thighs to perform from the pulpit at Aretha Franklin’s funeral. That there is growing discontent with overexposure in Western women’s dress is suggested by the elegant flowing drapery of Muslim-influenced designs by Dolce & Gabbana and Oscar de la Renta, among others, in recent years. An exhibition, Contemporary Muslim Fashions, opened Sept. 22 at the de Young Museum in San Francisco.

One of the greatest photographs ever taken of a Hollywood star was Edward Steichen’s 1924 close-up of Gloria Swanson through a lavishly embroidered black veil. It conveys tremendous power, dignity and enigmatic reserve. If women want respect in society, they must do their part to raise their own value. Stop throwing it away on empty display.

Indeed it has. Many things were jarring at Aretha Franklin’s funeral, but Ariana Grande’s dress was certainly one of them. It would have been fine at a party for young adults, or quite a few other places, at a funeral it was jarringly out of place and made her appear one or more of; stupid, disrespectful, or badly advised.

Ah well, Ecclesiastes does tell us (and so do the Byrds).

A time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance;

A time to cast away stones, and a time to gather stones together; a time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing;

A time to get, and a time to lose; a time to keep, and a time to cast away;

A time to rend, and a time to sew; a time to keep silence, and a time to speak;

A time to love, and a time to hate; a time of war, and a time of peace.

We’d do well to keep it in mind.

And you know, my vote for the sexiest woman in America in 2018 would go to Melania Trump. Lovely, dignified, and always appropriate.

About NEO
Lineman, Electrician, Industrial Control technician, Staking Engineer, Inspector, Quality Assurance Manager, Chief Operations Officer

23 Responses to Moving On

  1. Nicholas says:

    I agree with both the moral and aesthetic arguments presented in this post. If you look at a lot of the stuff produced by, for example, HBO – it’s swimming in nudity. In my personal opinion, a lot of that is lazy cinematography and a waste of pre-existing conventions that worked fine. You didn’t need to be a rocket scientist to work out what was happening in the old movies: two people walk into a bedroom, the door swings, and it cuts to the next morning – you knew what had happened in the course of the night. The best part of the sexual side of the earlier films was the chase, not the actual sex, the dance of the characters as they negotiated. I will always be a fan of “Gone with the Wind” as I am of “Dr Zhivago”, and “Cleopatra”. Hollywood is a pale shade of its former self. So many good series of recent years, if a bit of conservatism had been used, would have been truly spectacular: “The Borgias”, “Rome”, etc. The only thing by HBO with which I find no fault is “John Adams” -and that should tell you something.

    Liked by 1 person

    • NEO says:

      “John Adams” I haven’t watched although I probably will at some point. For the rest of your comment, well I simply agree with it all.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Nicholas says:

        🙂 I suspect we both feel that there is a lot of cinematic illiteracy, as Camille Paglia puts it, among younger audiences. I often ask people in my age bracket or a bit younger if they’ve seen X film, and the answer so often is no. I feel like an old man, and I’m under 30.

        Liked by 1 person

        • NEO says:

          Sadly, I don’t envy you your age, still you’ve made it to adulthood. There surely is, luckily for current Hollywood, if the kids ever watched the movies Paglia talked about, they’d likely understand why people like me never go to the movies anymore, and in truth, rarely did when we were younger either, except on dates.

          Liked by 1 person

        • Nicholas says:

          Indeed. I don’t go often to the cinema either, once or twice per year for family birthdays, that sort of thing. I can’t take what the SJWs are doing to Hollywood – and now to videogames. All I can say is, thank God the Russians don’t tolerate that crap. If in doubt, get something they made – it’ll make you think and be delightfully conservative.

          Liked by 2 people

        • NEO says:

          Haven’t tried that, but I mostly watch old movies, anyway.

          Liked by 1 person

  2. Scoop says:

    And while we’re at it, what happened to the writing talent for TV or Cinema? After the obligatory sex scenes, homosexual scenes and women who kick the sh*t out of men and show far more masculine strength (both physically and emotionally) the movies and TV shows generally have no actually rational plot. In most cases Cinema and TV has become predictable; the writers following a scripted playbook highlighted in some banal and sophomoric ‘message’ about some left wing cause that they are so fond of . . . homosexuality, global warming, greedy rich people and the poor victims of the right wing conspiracy to destroy the good people and amass all the power and wealth for themselves.

    My wife and I have tried over and over again to find something worth while to watch on these wonderful devices we now have in our living rooms (widescreen HDTV’s and sound systems) and yet there is nothing (most of the time) worth the time to watch. Even sports has become boring by the endless chatter of the announcers and the good old days of a televised boxing match ended years ago when they found out that people would pay outrageous amounts of money to get what we used to get for free: remember the Friday night fights brought to you courtesy of Pabst Blue Ribbon and Gillette??? I never thought I would be one of those people who pined for the good ol’ days but it is exactly who I’ve become.

    Boy the way Glen Miller played,
    Songs that made the hit parade,
    Guys like us we had it made,
    Those were the days,
    And you know where you were then,
    Girls were girls and men were men,
    Mister we could use a man like Herbert Hoover again,
    Didn’t need no welfare states
    Everybody pulled his weight,
    Gee our old Lasalle ran great,
    Those were the days

    Liked by 3 people

    • Nicholas says:

      I think the rot set in with MAS*H. I love the show, and it has truly sublime moments, and my family and I are watching it again for the Nth time, but you can see the roots of our ennui in it. Hawkeye steals the show and speaks sanctimoniously a lot of them and at times undermines respect for tried and trusted parts of our traditions. Furthermore, although the show was really aimed at criticising the Vietnam War, rightly or wrongly, because it’s set in Korea it looks like it’s criticising the Korean Police Action, and I don’t approve of that. Korea was not a pointless war; I’m sure the ROK is very grateful to the USA and other UN nations who defended it. South Korea today is one of the most prosperous countries in the world. Our regret is not that we stayed too long, but that we were unable to liberate the north as well.

      An interesting show, Michael J Fox’s debut, is “Family Ties” where 60s liberalism in the form of the parents is set against 80s Reagonomics in the form of their son, played by Michael J Fox.

      “Picket Fences” is an interesting exploration of social problems, made by David E Kelley in the 90s. We watched it when we lived in the US and managed to obtain DVDs years later. Set in small town America (Rome, Wisconsin), it almost invariably ends up in the court room with the judge and jury looking at difficult moral decisions. It gives Catholicism a hard time, but it also does the same for Anglicanism and Judaism.

      Liked by 2 people

      • NEO says:

        MASH, both the movie and the show are all you say, on both sides. I watched it fairly often but was not really a fan of it. Picket fences I did enjoy, as well as Family ties, and also The Wonder Years., and very little since. Like Scoop says, we have wonderful technology, 500 odd channels and nothing worth our time. BTW Friday night boxing exists yet, on British TV, and if you need something to put you to sleep, you can even find televised darts.

        Liked by 1 person

    • NEO says:

      I resemble that song too. Must have turned into a curmudgeon, a fair amount like Archie.

      Liked by 2 people

    • the unit says:

      “Those were the days.”
      Bought my daughter a “Princess Phone”. Who can be sure nowadays. 🙂

      Liked by 2 people

      • NEO says:

        Better make sure you ask her. 🙂

        Like

      • Nicholas says:

        Was one of the famous toymakers involved in making arms also back in the 80s/90s? I’m thinking of people like Mattel.

        Liked by 2 people

        • NEO says:

          No. It arose because the AR-15/M16 was the first common weapon to not have a wooden stick. It didn’t help it’s reputation that some fool in the Army told the troops that they didn’t have to clean it, leading to a lot of malfunctions in combat.

          Liked by 1 person

        • Nicholas says:

          Ah, that explains it; I may also be thinking of a satire of the megacorporations that arose in the 80s, the multinational ones, that had seemingly unconnected business ventures – I presume because of mergers and acquisitions, and maybe because they held stock in some companies that they didn’t run.

          Liked by 1 person

        • NEO says:

          Could be although we had multinationals even in the 60s, with business even more loosely connected than we see now, the only commonality seemed to be that they were making money and undervalued. That’s where a lot of the decline in business started.

          Liked by 1 person

        • the unit says:

          Yeah, no telling who’s doing what.
          Hollywood rot. Ugh!
          Thinking back to previous blog comments recently about Freudian Slip, was reading weather site little while ago as I in hurricane path. Mistook comment SSTs part of “hot undisturbed SSTs” (Sea Surface Temperatures) for STDs.
          Don’t worry, got my galoshers on. 🙂
          Oh, and perhaps subliminal or not so sub message. Stormy (Daniels) weather threatening U.S. by government named hurricane, Michael (Avenatti). 🙂
          But of course, hope… 🙂

          Oh, yeah! 🙂

          Liked by 2 people

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