Wednesday, May 07, 2008

Miley in Greerland.

I saw a small kerfuffle last week about an entertainer I know nothing about and whom I do not care about. How cool is this? Just the same, it got me thinking again about some things that have been riding around in my head for a couple of decades.

The entertainer is Miley Cyrus, who portrays a character named Hannah Montana. That is really all I know. Catchy name. Better than "the Olsen twins". So what? More kid stuff.

Recently, as everyone knows (even me), Annie Leibovitz photographed Miley Cyrus, and the photographs (or a photograph) appeared in "Vanity Fair" magazine. And then everyone went nuts. I don't care about the photo. I saw it. Even now that my cable TV has gone away I've managed to run into this image all over. I still don't care.

I consider myself repulsive. Just so you know. I'm a piece of meat out wandering around, and obviously cannot, if repulsive, feel that I have the right to pass judgment on everyone else who is not as lovely as I am. I pass judgment humbly, always remembering that I am an ugly person.

OK, so I think that Miley Cyrus is only another piece of meat.

Meaning piece of meat as in piece of meat. As a package of wet organic chemicals. I don't care. Most people are like that, just anonymous humanoids, and she is one of them.

Every now and then I'll see a woman who shorts out all my circuits. This happens maybe a half percent of the time. Being a guy I tend to fall in love several times while walking down any two blocks anywhere, but the really stunning women are rare. I'll see one maybe once in every 10 blocks or so. She ain't one of them, this Miley.

I don't care how old she is. For me a woman isn't a woman unless she has lines in her face. The corollary is that if a woman started out uninteresting she won't get sexy by growing old. I am not sexually thrilled by children. I am not thrilled by children in any way at all. I was once a child and could not wait to stop being one. For me, that is the whole story.

Women have a totally different perspective on things. I have no idea what it is, but some of it bugs the hell out of me. Mostly because most of them hold mutually contradictory opinions and will argue any point from a minimum of two or three sides.

Germaine Greer, the Australian feminist, recently spouted off about the Miley Cyrus "incident". She illustrated several things that have been eating at me.

One thing she did not say explicitly, but still implied, continuing a line from way back in the 1970s if not earlier, is that women can't do stuff because they are oppressed, and they are oppressed by men, who should get with the program and give women what they deserve.

Screw that.

Here's why. If womankind (a group comprised of about 3.25 billion individual women) are somehow unable to do anything at all because men (a group comprised of about 3.25 billion individual men) are "holding them back" and "oppressing them", and the only way that women can rise above this is with the help of men, then there is no hope whatsoever for women, because they are incapable of doing anything on their own. Think it through and that's the only possible conclusion, and it's completely crap.

The truth is that almost 100% of the other people on earth see you (and me) as at best either a nuisance not particularly worth the trouble it would take to exterminate right now, or a resource to be exploited when convenient.

No one loves me, or you. If you want something or want to be something you have to find a way to make it happen, and if you get really lucky then no one will care what the hell you do and you will just go do it. Usually there will be at least dozens of people competing with you or trying to stop you for one reason or another. At a minimum they will be telling you that you are a worthless piece of crap and you can't do it, and don't deserve even to draw breath.

Depending on where you live, what you look like, and what group people think you "belong" to, someone else may try to stone you, blow you up, hang you, or get nasty and do something really unpleasant.

This is life. Not because someone is a woman, or not, but because it is the way it is for no particular reason that I know of, and the central fallacy of feminist thought is that women are a special case somehow, as noted above.

In the Guardian ("guardian.co.uk") Germaine Greer rants about this photo of Cyrus, if we may get back to the subject.

First Greer classifies the photo as art, but says that "in western art most of the women portrayed semi-clad or totally nude are children," something I have never particularly noticed. Children? Get real.

From an Amazon review of Greer's book "The Beautiful Boy", her aim was to "'to advance women's reclamation of their capacity for and right to visual pleasure' by encouraging women to gaze with desire at naked boys, mature enough for sex but too young to shave."

OK, so we've got the hypocrisy engine revving loudly right at the starting line. It's fine for women to feel lusty about boys but wrong for men to have feelings about young women? Do I have that right? Yep. And I still disagree with the contention about western art as child pornography.

"When Botticelli paints the yet-to-be-enjoyed goddess of love emerging from the sea," Greer says, "people come from all over the world to gape at her." Well wouldn't you? Botticelli painted this in 1482. That is 526 years ago, and people are still finding meaning it this painting. There must be more there than a naked girl or it would have been tossed out centuries ago. Anyway, photography produces much better pornography than oil paint on canvas.

Look at the picture and see if you can find any naked female children. I dare you.

Then Greer says that a young adult woman in a sexy pose is rare and weird, contrasting the now fully adult model Kate Moss with Miley Cyrus. How weird is that?

If this was true, then many marriages would end before they even began. My own grandparents were married over 60 years and neither one of them had a habit of sneaking out of the house to raid my grade school for fresh meat, even though it was only a block away. They were adults and acted like it, as almost everyone does. It's called growing up. Adults are attracted to and appreciate adults, and as you get older, the meaning of who is an adult ages with you.

Do the relatively young of our species have nicer bodies than us old farts? Duh, yeah. But even if you like to look at smooth skin or a tight butt every now and then, it's about as evil as taking a deep breath of fresh air on a spring morning. Nice, but....

Next Greer states that 15-year-old girls are full of sophisticated cooking sexual urges and way ahead of dim-witted adults, and then she says that these same girls have to be trained to be sexy and then can't be reformed again: "When the time comes she is likely to reject approaching womanhood, desperate to keep her thighs skinny, and nearly as desperate to acquire hard, high breasts." No comment other than to note that this is so convoluted and self-contradictory that I don't want to mess with it.

Following this Greer takes issue with the art of photography, claiming that posing is itself pornography, and that lighting and color evoke a "palette strongly redolent of the dirty postcards of yesteryear" which of course few of us have seen, so we obviously can't be nostalgic for them. And which, like all fashions in art (let's assume for a moment that even pornography is art), go stale. I think that H.L. Mencken was one screaming good writer, but he came from a different age. Even though I can appreciate his passion and envy his facility with words, I don't want to copy him. People don't do things that way now. It's not fun, it's not fresh, it's not real. It's boring.

If you want pornography you want something that looks real. Pornography has basically no meaning. It's a blunt instrument. To have meaning requires depth, and depth and nuance kill pornography. Dirty postcards from the 1850s are so stale as to be only baffling, so this argument is false.

OK, then. Greer goes even farther off the deep end by claiming that Miley Cyrus looks puffy, unclean and unkempt, and this means she looks like she's just had sex, which is sexy. Go back to square one for a second. Miley Cyrus is just an anonymous female biped. Someone or other may think otherwise, but probably not very many of us. Not me. Not in this photo. I've seen another photo or two of her and she's an ordinary looking little girl. Just an ordinary looking little girl. I do not fantasize about her as Greer does.

"The subject of Leibovitz's photo could be a child prostitute from Casablanca, vintage 1900, the camera in the hands of a sex tourist who is about to toss a few coins to the doorkeeper." Or she could be an accountant, or a bowling instructor, or just an anonymous female biped, or a college student playing around at posing, or a rich entertainer trying out something new to see how it feels, and making a few bucks besides.

Oops. We're getting close. Greer keeps building on this prostitution idea. She thinks that the Disney corporation is the real pimp. Disney could have prevented all this. Maybe Disney even wanted this fuss: "the brouhaha has been timed for the very day the magazine appeared on the newsstands" instead of, say, a year before, or eight weeks after, or never, in case no one cared. So when would a fuss arise if not when the magazine is published? One wonders. Sounds like a conspiracy to me, kids.

But it gets even worse. "Her parents and minders were present and apparently saw nothing amiss in the offending photograph." So how evil is that one? Dang. Not even her parents cared. So I should get even more worked up then?

Then Greer gets totally wound up and basically claims that all schoolgirls are sluts, and all entertainers, and that every kind of job is prostitution and therefore bad for everyone, and on and on, and then there is a final period on the end of the final sentence and that's about it.

According to the always-correct Wikipedia "In December 2007, [Miley Cyrus] was ranked #17 in the list of Forbes Top twenty earners under 25 with an annual earning of US$3.5 million. In April 2008, Parade and Us Weekly reported that Cyrus earned $18.2 million in 2007." Sounds like she's in it for the money. Anyone want to burn her at the stake as an evil prostitute?

What I still don't understand is what the issue is. Why do some women begin foaming at the mouth when someone else gets a job and makes a lot of money? Do I respect Miley Cyrus? No. I don't even know who the hell she is. I don't respect Britney Spears or Madonna either, but then who the hell am I? They are all in business and doing pretty well.

Are they crazy? Probably, by some measure. Are they bent? Probably, by some measure. Are they happy? None of my business. Are they successful business women? Yes, all of them. If they don't like what they do they can change. All of them have enough money. It's not like any or all of them or any of the hundreds of thousands of female entertainers in just this one country are being held in cages and fed raw meat every now and then, and taken out for display whenever their handlers feel like it.

I personally have no respect or disrespect for any of them. My opinion is completely irrelevant and I am a total nonentity. Someone like Germaine Greer knows better. She used to be a celebrity. She knows how far below Miley Cyrus she ranks. Greer can't even sing or dance or tell jokes, or act.

Showbiz is a tough line of work. You have to be insanely good and insanely lucky. No one, not any one at all just stands up and holds out a basket for people to throw money into. Showbiz is a killer field. It's much tougher than it looks, which is partly why the pay can be so good. But most people work hard for a whole lifetime and never manage to make a living at it. So why does Germaine Greer have a problem?

I think she may hate women, and hate her own life too. And I think that maybe she's found a niche, and that niche is the whiney one. It's easy for someone like her to sit at a keyboard and complain instead of running an auto repair shop or driving a truck or being a doctor or an actress, or even a porn star. She just never wanted to get serious herself, so now she's found a vein of ore she can burrow along, following one bogus idea after another and pretending to string them together into a finely-fashioned argument.

I don't know a lot of people. Never have. But of the people I've met I've found that just as many women as men are complete buttheads. Nothing is more delicious to me than discovering a person who thinks clearly, thinks well, thinks deeply, and thinks often. I don't give a flying rat's ass if I agree with them or not, as long as they are honest enough to keep looking for the truth, and to keep accepting it when they find it, no matter what it looks like, and I try to do that too.

So everyone. Shape up already. Who cares if some twit sits for a damn photo session?

Footnote: I don't know about you, but I always thought that Germaine Greer was kind of a babe herself. Of course she's a lot older now, but still not all that bad. Heh.

References:

Germaine Greer: "The Beautiful Boy".
Guardian.co.uk: "We like our Venuses young".
Botticelli's Venus.
Miley Cyrus at Wikipedia.


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