This story is really bizarre, but lets just say that Camille Paglia has been losing her feminist touch over the years. A little while back, she took a swipe at Lady Gaga for not being sexy in the proper way and, instead, appearing “clinical and strangely antiseptic, so stripped of genuine eroticism.” Paglia then wrote a haphazard essay in which she blamed Taylor Swift and Katy Perry for the death of feminism, and in the same piece, she went on to declare that Rihanna was a wonderful, sparkling display of “authentic sizzling eroticism” and feminism. So I guess that Paglia has always had a bit of a hard on for Rihanna as “the pleasure principle incarnate.” Never mind that Rihanna is a pretty awful role model for young females after returning (time and time again) to the abusive Chris Brown.
Paglia wasn’t done with Rihanna though, and now she’s unleashed an even sketchier essay that basically says that Rihanna is the new Princess Diana. The comparisons made in this essay are absolutely absurd, but while Rihanna (with Cara Delevingne’s eyebrows in tow) was tumbling out of a nightclub in London on Saturday night (after the tragic debut of Rihanna’s fashion line), The Sunday Times was on its way to her hotel doorstep and newsstands throughout the world. The Times’ cover story? “The Princess and the Showgirl: Why Rihanna is the new Diana.” See if you can make sense of this nonsense (with reference photos here), and we’ll discuss below:
Rihanna is in love with the camera, and the camera is in love with her. Not since Diana rocketed from a shy, plump kindergarten aide to a lean, mean fashion machine has there been such a ravishingly seductive flirtation with the world press.
Like Diana, Rihanna has worryingly drifted into using photo ops to send messages of allure, defiance, or revenge in a turbulent relationship with an errant partner. Rihanna, another victim of a festering romantic triangle, has bounced dizzyingly back and forth in her checkered affair with rapper Chris Brown, who was convicted of a felony in 2009 for abusing her.
Diana’s anguished helplessness and isolation inside the royal family, with its stoical code of duty, led her to gravitate toward the ever-hovering paparazzi, whose global power as a media institution increased exponentially because of her popularity… The problem is that, in this era of social media, Rihanna in her fury of tainted love has tools ready to hand that Diana never dreamed of. Instagram, for example, a photo-sharing program with a palette of special-effects filters, allows Rihanna to send personal pictures to friend and foe in the blink of an eye, without the mediation of professional photographers. It is autobiography written by a volatile mix of impulse and mood…
The speed of Rihanna’s self-documentation from dawn to dusk accelerated in the months following her reunion with Brown last October. The climax was an extraordinary holiday melodrama during which Rihanna cooled her heels in a luxury rental in Barbados. Provocative photos of Rihanna lolling in skimpy beachwear followed forth, soon followed by darker shots of a morose Rihanna pacing a balcony, for all the world like Diana pining in lonely abandonment at the Taj Mahal…. the photograph is echoed 15 years later by the shot of Rihanna on her balcony in Barbados, in turmoil over her relationship with Chris Brown.
Some of Rihanna’s candid shots, particular the fireplace photos where she poses half-nude in a fur-lined jacket, have an atmospheric eroticism that is genuinely artistic and has not been seen in decades. Pr0nography today has become hard, plasticised and stereotypical, with a boring lack of intrigue and subtext. Rihanna’s impressive visual archive demonstrates that eroticism is a function of mental projection, not bust size…
Diana and Rihanna began as sensitive, wounded, but appealingly bubbly and good-natured provincial girls who slowly discovered their own photogenic virtuosity and began to conceptualize themselves as living sculpture for the lens. Both developed a false intimacy with photographers and the public and began to cannibalize themselves in their futile search for security in love. Diana, rebuffed, eventually accepted her exile. But Rihanna, in the classic syndrome of the battered woman, still pities and hopes to change and save her abuser…
[From The Sunday Times]
Now this is only an abridged version of the entire article (which is not available online), but did anyone else walk away from this wondering what the hell Paglia was smoking when she wrote this piece? Kaiser mentioned to me that Paglia once compared Paris Hilton to Diana at one point too, and sure enough, this comparison took place in the 2009 MTV documentary, Paris, Not France, in which Paglia can be heard saying that, like Di, Paris had “the ability to enchant the still camera.” Of course, the Paris bit only makes the Rihanna-Diana comparison more hilarious.
As for Rihanna, she’s (naturally) thrilled with the comparison and immediately tweeted her happiness as such: When your face is pic-stitched to Princess Diana’s on the cover of The Sunday Times…. I mean……. Just so happens I came home drunk to this in a pile of papers outside my hotel room! My lil Bajan behind.” Then Rihanna probably passed out drunk in (what she probably sees as) a fitting tribute to her life as Diana III.
As a side note, Hollywood Life says that Chris Brown and Karreuche Tran have been love-nesting in Houston while Rihanna’s been in London. Well, obviously.
Photos courtesy of Fame/Flynet and WENN