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GORE VIDAL, Elder statesman of American Rape Apology and Transphobia

[Content Note: The following contains Rape Apology, Transphobia, and Cissexism]

If you hadn’t heard: Gore Vidal is dead. While the hagiographers are still pinning down just the right words to eulogize him, I’d like to interject a not at all respectful or kind or complete assessment of the man’s life, before we’re all drowning in happy horseshit.

I’ve read two of Gore Vidal’s novels and started a third last night in between watching episodes of Breaking Bad from season three and gchatting about Fiona Apple’s latest album. I’d like to talk about those books but first I’ll start the conversation elsewhere, with a quote from the man himself. The following comes from a 2009 interview in The Atlantic that the wonderful and inspiring Amadi tweeted a link to last night:

In September, director Roman Polanski was arrested in Switzerland for leaving the U.S. in 1978 before being sentenced to prison for raping a 13-year-old girl at Jack Nicholson’s house in Hollywood. During the time of the original incident, you were working in the industry, and you and Polanski had a common friend in theater critic and producer Kenneth Tynan. So what’s your take on Polanski, this many years later?

I really don’t give a fuck. Look, am I going to sit and weep every time a young hooker feels as though she’s been taken advantage of?

YES. YES I EXPECT YOU TO FEEL SOMETHING FOR PEOPLE WHEN THEY’VE BEEN RAPED, SEX WORKERS INCLUDED, YOU INSUFFERABLE SHITBIRD.

To cut to raw quick of the thing, Vidal asserts he has special insight into the situation gleaned from being a part of the Hollywood scene around the time Polanski’s underage victim was drugged and raped. He’s adamant that Roman Polanski was prosecuted because of Anti-Semitism and not because he drugged and raped a 13-year-old girl in Jack Nicholson’s house. If I spent a week doing nothing but writing vitriol aimed at Gore Vidal I could not disrespect and dismiss him as much as he disrespects and dismisses Polanski’s victim — it is really something to see.

The idea that this girl was in her communion dress, a little angel all in white, being raped by this awful Jew, Polacko – that’s what people were calling him – well, the story is totally different now from what it was then.

DAMN VIDAL DON’T HURT ‘EM. That is a fucking rape apology bar to beat. Trying to win a rape apology-off against Gore Vidal would be like trying to outlimbo prosciutto. Vidal doesn’t fuck around with “How old was she?” or “Was she drugged?” he skips right to “Yeah, but was she wearing her communion dress?” Did she give implied consent by taking off her white communion dress and wearing literally anything else?

I’ve made a lot of private decisions about my media consumption that might be considered intellectually fanatical since Polanski was arrested. I haven’t watched Moonrise Kingdom because Wes Anderson signed the petition to release Polanski. When people fawn over Tilda Swinton I ignore it, knowing she signed it too. There are a lot of Scorsese films, most of what is considered to be his best work, that I put off watching for years that I’m never going to see.

I don’t have a lot of dealbreakers, but defending rapists is definitely one of them. I take charges of Anti-Semitism very seriously, but I also know that sometimes (as when people show even a sliver of support or concern for the state of Palestine and its people) accusations of such are misused to shut the conversation all the way down. What I know is that whatever super insidery knowledge these people had, their primary quibble was that International Film Festivals should be a safe space for auteur rapists and not for people they might rape. What is the rule of law next to cinematic vision, I ask you? Hasn’t Polanski been through enough, fleeing to Europe and having to attend the Oscars via telecast… LIKE AN ANIMAL?!?!

Fuck all of those people. Fuck this bullshit petition that doesn’t even have the courage to accurately describe what he did, and then wanders up its own ass to demand the release of a rapist to aid a diplomatic relationship between France and the US, for fuck’s sake. Fuck Gore Vidal, fuck his defenders, fuck you, yes you, reading this, who wants to say something about respecting the dead. Save it for ur blawg d00d, nobody here gives a fuck.

Like I said, I’ve read two of his novels. The first was The City and the Pillar, his third novel, which turned him from the promising young grandson of a senator into a political pariah for its depiction of unabashed homosexuality. After that I found a copy of Myra Breckinridge in my hometown’s only used book store (since defunct) and read it twice. I do not know, as a cis guy, what reading that book is like for a trans person. I know that when I first picked it up I was enraptured by the grandiosity and high theater of Myra’s narration, and soon after ordered the sequel, Myron. Over the years I would see the book on my shelves, growing more and more sinister as the context of the preceding novel changed for me, as I started to clue into the parts of the story that rely on stereotypes and attitudes about trans people that routinely get them excluded from public and private spaces, denied adequate medical care, and murdered.

The narrator Myra Breckinridge spends most of the book lusting after a young acting student named Rusty, becoming increasingly more obsessed as it is slowly revealed that Myra is a trans woman. The apex of the novel is the scene in which Myra is giving Rusty a physical examination on some flimsy pretext and rapes him. Because TWIST TWIST TWIST TWIST Myra’s trans identity is really just an alternate personality, one that drives her “real” personality Myron underground, hijacks the body they share and uses it to commit sexual violence. At the end of the novel Myron reasserts himself and gets married to a woman, finally destroying the renegade Myra.

In summary: according to this book trans people’s identities are a form of mental illness and if you’re not careful, they’ll rape you. GORE VIDAL: RADICAL FEMINIST?!?! If you are enraged by trans people not spitting out a detailed gender report every time a cis person looks in their direction but not by trans people being murdered by their intimate partners and total strangers, then I think you’ve just found a shelf mate for Janice Raymond’s The Transsexual Empire HAHA J/K I KNOW YOU SLEEP WITH THAT SHIT UNDERNEATH YOUR PILLOW. Or if you use every discussion about trans people to misgender them and paint them as aggressive, scary rapists out to “trick” you into intimacy, you are not just a shambling pile of misfiring neurons, you are a person who needs this book in their life.

Myra Breckinridge was made into a movie starring Raquel Welch, which I have not seen, but parts of which you can view on Youtube. I’ve added it to the top of my family’s Netflix queue and when it comes in I’ll watch it and report back. I’m reading the sequel right now and will be blogging as much Vidal “perspective” as I can muster this week.

This morning I wanted to slide this into the discussion before it devolves into accusations that we’re pissing on Vidal’s corpse because we’re all catty, jealous philistines who want to outlaw humor and most forms of pleasure, triggering the exasperation we’ll be feeling that the conversation went right back to THAT place so quickly, the way it did after Hitchens died, the way it does whenever an Important Man dies and people have something to say besides “My, my, that was an IMPORTANT MAN!”

39 Comments

  1. GallingGalla wrote:

    DAMNED RIGHT, Garland. You hit the nail on the head with this article. I know I won’t shed a tear for Vidal. His defense of rape and his transphobia are (not were, *are*) reprehensible and disgusting.

    Wednesday, August 1, 2012 at 9:31 am | Permalink
  2. jp wrote:

    Great essay. And I call bullshit on Vidal’s “oooh, anti-semitism” defense. I’m old enough to recall the press around the original incident (and as a fan of Polanski’s films at the time, I was paying attention)and there was never a whiff of that kind of talk about him, neither in the press or in popular discourse.
    Tragic-tortured-genius talk there was, and underage girl rape jokes aplenty, but no one was focusing on Polanksi-as-Jew. Vidal could have been relating what went on in some rarefied Hollywood circle, or else, he was just making that up.

    Wednesday, August 1, 2012 at 11:28 am | Permalink
  3. James wrote:

    You HAVE to see Myra Breckinridge. It’s one of those things that the term WTF was created for. It’s so…I don’t even know what that it almost defies offense. It’s a clusterfuck trainwreck the likes of which just don’t get made anymore.

    And REX REED plays Myron, it’s crazy.

    Wednesday, August 1, 2012 at 12:20 pm | Permalink
  4. Caitiecat wrote:

    Well, I didn’t know Polanski was Jewish until I read this article, so I think I can safely say my vehement opposition to him (and my list has been similarly culled, Garland, no more Brazil or Baron Munchhausen, frex) comes solely from his being a child-raper.

    Wednesday, August 1, 2012 at 12:32 pm | Permalink
  5. MikeV wrote:

    D:

    I had no idea. And now I check the petition and see Almodovar, too?

    I would normally be as angry as you but now I just feel sad and disillusioned. I’m going to go crawl back into bed…

    Wednesday, August 1, 2012 at 12:35 pm | Permalink
  6. Marcia Brady wrote:

    Those who read fiction from the 1960s and frame it as a sociopolitical treatise of the 2010s are misguided. First, fiction is not always sociopolitical discourse. Second, trans culture 45 years ago was not quite what trans culture is now, imagine that. Third, um, Myra Breckenridge is widely regarded as — get this — satire. By all means, fuck with Gore all you want, he liked being a dick; however there are more intellectually elegant approaches that you might try and that more befit his brilliance. This horseshit should probably be left on the backyard farm you own in isolation from all companies that one could otherwise buy from if they hadn’t ever employed anyone who’d ever supported a friend who’d ever sexually assualted a person.

    Wednesday, August 1, 2012 at 12:37 pm | Permalink
  7. addiejd wrote:

    You know, some people’s corpses just deserve being pissed on. He happens to be one of them.

    Wednesday, August 1, 2012 at 1:12 pm | Permalink
  8. Li wrote:

    It turns out I knew most of this but had somehow shoved it back into a tiny corner of my mind in order to not spend really large amounts of my day yelling at the world. Now conveniently using this essay to ruin all the fun “I didn’t really read his stuff but he was pretty cool” parties happening on facebook.

    Wednesday, August 1, 2012 at 1:21 pm | Permalink
  9. Garland Grey wrote:

    @Marcia
    @Marcia
    @Marcia That’s a fair criticism. So if we’re calibrating the impact of Myra B. we can slide the dial from “perpetuates ideas that negatively impact trans people” to “offensively rendered satire” hitting however many points along the way. I’d say it’s a pretty shit move to pivot your satire on “a person’s transness is a form of mental illness” because BOY HOWDY has there always been a lot of that floating around.

    As for the other, supporting a friend is one thing, a thing we shall henceforth call “not at all the fuck what is going on here” — he called a 13-year-old a hooker and characterized being drugged and raped as if she were a sex worker of legal age had been shorted a few bucks. C’mon Marcia. He could have said things in support of Polanski that didn’t straight up throw that girl under a fleet of Greyhounds.

    Wednesday, August 1, 2012 at 2:07 pm | Permalink
  10. Marcia Brady wrote:

    Well now, okay. Try looking at Myra through a less postmodern lens, i.e. as a kind of younger sister of City and the Pillar or older sister of Walk on the Wild Side. My interpretation is that the book’s social satire (which to clarify is not satirizing dear Myra, but rather the society she so sweetly skewers) is tempered by the unbelievably tragic rendering of what we might these days call endured and internalized transphobia: in other words, what our poor heroine might experience as feeling totally fucked up because she feels worthless because society hates her (cf “Jackie’s just fading away,” or that insane homophobia-laced denouement in City and Pillar).

    What Gore always did better than almost anyone is take you into the mind of a character distorted by the hatred of the world for their being and desire and let you be consumed by the sequelae of this hatred, e.g. what they do to themselves and the ones they desire as a result. That’s the point I’m trying to make that I think you are willfully missing, or maybe just can’t see.

    As for the Polanski thing, my view is that a) Vidal’s consciously being a bitter old queen about it because that’s his persona, so do go on and hate him for it because that’s what he would have wanted. Re the petition and etc it’s well-established that the victim, now middle-aged, did not want this dredged up and prosecuted again (read her interviews on the subject) — in that regard I think the prosecutor cared much more for his blooming political reputation than any damage to her. So that’s the relevant subtext of the petition, and I think you should see Moonrise Kingdom: it’s gorgeous, live a little. See you in our SoCal ranch house, you’re always welcome.

    Wednesday, August 1, 2012 at 3:00 pm | Permalink
  11. Marcia Brady wrote:

    And just to make things even more clear, using a 21st century lens because that seems to be what you’re about: it’s not mental illness about transphobia per se that Vidal sets up here. It’s the mental illness refracted and amplified in horrible ways inside an individual because of a society’s collective mental illness about what that individual represents. Whatever his faults, he was a fucking genius at expressing that, it’s the main power of his narrative, so don’t miss out on experiencing it!

    Wednesday, August 1, 2012 at 3:04 pm | Permalink
  12. Marcia Brady wrote:

    Thank you, TigerBeatdown, for censoring intellectual discourse and deleting my 2 previous lengthy and not particularly bitchy clarifying comments.

    Wednesday, August 1, 2012 at 3:32 pm | Permalink
  13. M_K wrote:

    “triggering the exasperation we’ll be feeling that the conversation went right back to THAT place so quickly, the way it did after Hitchens died, the way it does whenever an Important Man dies and people have something to say besides “My, my, that was an IMPORTANT MAN!””
    YESSSSSSSSS. I am tired of being chided because the deaths of such Important Men stir no sympathy in me.

    Wednesday, August 1, 2012 at 4:16 pm | Permalink
  14. @Marcia, “censoring”? Why don’t you try learning the meaning of words? We are not the government. The kind of tripe you write here (which, as you can see, has been approved and is visible) is akin to coming to our living room and taking a shit on our sofa. Don’t flatter yourself calling your rape and transphobic apologia brain dumps “intellectual discourse”. Also, you don’t have the right to have your comments approved. That’s a privilege. Not all opinions deserve to be heard especially when they are of the crypto hateful kind.

    Wednesday, August 1, 2012 at 4:27 pm | Permalink
  15. Garland Grey wrote:

    @Marcia I have now published ALL FOUR of your comments, not because I give a fuck about advancing the intellectual discourse, but to show everyone why we’re so strict about comments here. You have the goddamn gall to bring rape apology into my comment section and then piss and moan when I won’t publish it. THE PROSECUTOR WAS TRYING TO MAKE A NAME FOR HIMSELF? WHAT THE FUCK DOES THAT HAVE TO DO WITH ANYTHING MARCIA? WHAT DOES THAT HAVE TO DO WITH THE GODDAMN PRICE OF BUTTER?

    To steal the words of se smith, every comment on this site is an audition. EVERY. LAST. ONE. You don’t like it you can start a blog called Tiger Beatdown Is Full of Censorious Shitheads and blog about everything you don’t like about our comment policy. Or about how postmodern and super in-depth your analysis can be. Cause I gotta tell you, the rate at which you swung from friendly to entitled was fucking chilling.

    We don’t foster the unfettered exchange of ideas on TBD, we curate conversations. That is what is valuable to us, not boring hero worship.

    AND NO, I WON’T BE PUBLISHING YER FOLLOWUP, INCASEYOUWEREWONDERING.

    Wednesday, August 1, 2012 at 4:31 pm | Permalink
  16. Jane wrote:

    SO MANY people signed the petition or stuck their heads up their asses and talked back down the sphincter at the rest of us…and it makes me sad because I can remember the glory of Vidal talking back to William F. Buckley just as I can the beauty of Orlando and the amazing headspin of Baron Munschausen. It’s cognitive dissonance.

    Well, it’s rape culture.

    Wednesday, August 1, 2012 at 5:20 pm | Permalink
  17. Kathy wrote:

    After all the glowing obits that have been published today, thank you for mentioning his defense of Polanski and the tired old tropes about trans women in Myra Breckinridge. I don’t understand why this is such as hard thing to do. No one is denying him his rightful place in the canon, or whatever, but the problematic aspects of his work shouldn’t be ignored.

    Wednesday, August 1, 2012 at 7:33 pm | Permalink
  18. Romie wrote:

    1. Thank you again for your moderated comments policy.

    2. Thank you for the first time for using the phrase “what does that have to do with the price of butter,” because I’d forgotten that expression existed and it’s perfect.

    Wednesday, August 1, 2012 at 8:09 pm | Permalink
  19. Goldenblack wrote:

    “the victim, now middle-aged…”

    Yeah, now I’m middle aged being assaulted earlier in life is so much less important because of…what…I don’t know. I guess maybe it’s not as serious because I’m old or something, whatever.

    I’ve never seen on this site – or any other feminist site – a lack of awareness about the fact the victim did not want to be part of the media circus again. She stated the media ruined her life over this. The problem, even for her, is not the fact that Polanski deserves to be treated like a criminal who escaped for ages, but because the media turned it into such an insane frenzy. In large part because rape accusations (especially against Great Men) are invariably phrased as lies coming from coquettish creatures who want money.

    Which is kind of the point of highlighting Gore Vidal’s quote.

    Wednesday, August 1, 2012 at 10:29 pm | Permalink
  20. Kynthia Alice wrote:

    Being a Male to Female transsexual, I cannot shed any tears over the death of Gore Vidal. I didn’t wish him dead or even take joy in his death, but I am happy he can no longer make rape apologies for his pedophile filmmaker buddy

    All too often I have to live with the stereotypes of Myra Breckenridge and ignorant people thinking since it was GV that wrote it it must be true. Usually these mouth breathers only saw the movie, reading being quite foreign to their milieu

    If these things run in threes I have a couple of more candidates for the “See ya loser” wave.

    If anger or any other negative emotion seems to be predominant in this post, good, I meant every word of it.

    Thank you for the article, Made my day quite a bit better after reading the weepi9ng notices on Facebook all day.

    Thursday, August 2, 2012 at 12:58 am | Permalink
  21. lupinella wrote:

    Linked from Shakesville. Just wanted to say a BIG THANK YOU for this post.

    Thursday, August 2, 2012 at 1:03 am | Permalink
  22. Donna wrote:

    I was truly shocked to see Woody Allen’s name on that petition.

    No, not really.

    Thursday, August 2, 2012 at 4:00 pm | Permalink
  23. skysquid wrote:

    as a trans woman, i don’t really care about the literary value of that book. the character is a stereotype which is so common that it supplants our actual experience. this book is part of the reason that when i came out to my parents, instead of saying “we don’t know much about that” they said “you’re not really trans, you’re this other thing where a false identity is suppressing your real male self.” these narratives, rather than our own, control how we are seen and mistreated.

    now this book is not the only reason people respond to me that way, but it is fule on the fire. and make no mistake, that fire burns us. these ideas take a physical, painful toll on our actual bodies. so i don’t care what a wonderful metaphor for alienation this transmisogynistic character is. if you’re a cis person and you want to talk about alienation, don’t use harmful characterizations of my life to talk about it. ever. if your such a great writer, find a symbol that you actually know something about and use that.

    i’m not glad that gore vidal is dead, but let’s not pretend that he only shit gold. let’s not silence the living, breathing people harmed by what he said, who are fighting to be heard.

    Thursday, August 2, 2012 at 5:47 pm | Permalink
  24. Donna wrote:

    No one but privileged white dudes gets the kind of coddling and tortured pseudo-intellectual rationalizing away of their monstrousness that people like Marcia so eagerly give to the likes of Gore Vidal, Roman Polansky, and every asshole who signed that petition.

    Fucking privilege.

    Thursday, August 2, 2012 at 5:49 pm | Permalink
  25. theatomicgal wrote:

    Powerful and beautifully written. And damn witty. “[L]ike trying to outlimbo prosciutto” is a wickedly provocative metaphor. Bravo!

    Thursday, August 2, 2012 at 6:27 pm | Permalink
  26. Fede wrote:

    I love you, Garland Grey.

    Or, you know, as close as some anonymous person on the interwebs can come to loving a blogger that they’ve never met, but you get what I’m saying, right?

    Love. You.

    Thursday, August 2, 2012 at 7:25 pm | Permalink
  27. Vidal was an Ass wrote:

    As a radical feminist, I am offended to be lumped in with Vidal’s misogyny. If you want to criticize the man, and please do, please also leave us the fuck out of it. We don’t like him either.

    Thursday, August 2, 2012 at 7:28 pm | Permalink
  28. Jessica wrote:

    As a trans woman, Myra Breckinridge is forgivable or understandable in context of the time it was written.

    But the Polanski quote is terrible. It’s nothing more than privileged cruelty.

    Thursday, August 2, 2012 at 7:48 pm | Permalink
  29. Jeff wrote:

    My only experience with GV is reading The City and The Pillar and watching YT videos of his more controversial moments on air. For these I mourned him, but am glad to have read a distinctly different perspective of his life than what I’m getting anywhere else.

    Friday, August 3, 2012 at 10:17 am | Permalink
  30. AMM wrote:

    I’m dismayed to hear Vidal supported Polanski in the rape, especially his comments, but I’m not exactly surprised. White male big shots tend to be entitled jerks, and it seemed like practically the entire white male literary establishment lined up to support Polanski’s innocence.

    I read Myra Breckinridge recently, not knowing anything about it, and haven’t reread it, but it didn’t occur to me that it was supposed to be about being trans. It sounded like the sort of “if I were a woman” fantasy that a dude who didn’t know anything about women would write — sort of like Heinlein’s “I will fear no evil.”

    Friday, August 3, 2012 at 7:49 pm | Permalink
  31. Garland Grey wrote:

    @AMM In the book it was fairly clear that Myra had undergone gender confirmation surgery. I can see how you’d read it as other than trans since Myra’s identity doesn’t resemble authentic trans lives. It feels as if Vidal said “Let’s take this “outrageous” concept and repurpose it for high satire” most likely inspired by the highly-publicized life of Christine Jorgensen, who transitioned in 1952, 16 years before the novel was released.

    Friday, August 3, 2012 at 9:18 pm | Permalink
  32. Lisa Harney wrote:

    I’ve never read Myra Breckenridge, but I remembered critiques I’d seen in the past. Because of that (I had not known about his defense of Polanski) I felt very uncomfortable with the way he was being lionized. I appreciate the harsh dose of facts in this post for being that harsh dose of facts.

    I am also tired of the notion that just because something was created a few decades ago it should be beyond criticism. Gore Vidal wrote that novel and did he ever step back and say “that was a mistake?”

    I recall reading somewhere that Joanna Russ actually repudiated her portrayal of transgender women in The Female Man. I can’t confirm this, but the notion that an artist can look back over past works and say “This was a mistake” is not a novel, unusual, or outrageous proposal. Gore Vidal could have said “Myra Breckenridge was flawed and I screwed up.” Which as far as I can tell, he never did.

    Friday, August 3, 2012 at 10:11 pm | Permalink
  33. RJ wrote:

    That quote makes me sick. I really have nothing else to say about it.

    I’ve only ever read The City and the Pillar, and that was enough for me. The depiction of the gay male main character as a sociopathic and obsessive sexual predator and murderer put me off Vidal for good. I don’t buy the argument that that was just how it was back then and I should thus get over it – there are enough less grossly homophobic depictions of gay people from the period to render that argument ridiculous.

    So what I’m trying to say here is: Amen.

    Saturday, August 4, 2012 at 1:59 am | Permalink
  34. AMM wrote:

    @Garland Grey (31)

    I’m sure there’s a lot of stuff I didn’t pick up on. I didn’t read it very carefully, and it somehow didn’t make me want to reread it to pick up on what I missed the first time. E.g., I didn’t pick up that it was supposed to be satire.

    What did come across to me was the sense that Vidal didn’t know or care what being a woman (trans or not) was actually like, and was instead simply making up a fantasy view of womanhood to please himself. Sort of the way Native Americans have traditionally been used in USA-an literature. Once I got that impression, I didn’t really have much desire to know what else Vidal was trying to say.

    Saturday, August 4, 2012 at 8:34 am | Permalink
  35. hamrove wrote:

    Kudos to you for your comment moderation policies. What irks me the most is “Vidal’s consciously being a bitter old queen about it because that’s his persona, so do go on and hate him for it because that’s what he would have wanted.”

    Why is it that misogynist hatred of an adolescent girl is considered worthy grist for the construction of a subversive persona? And why are so many ‘subversive’ or ‘transgressive’ personas founded on antiquated ideas about sex, gender and race?
    How does the victim’s rightful desire not to be drawn into a media circus somehow justify Vidal’s vitriol and the wave of Hollywood apologias for the actions of a child rapist? Oh yeah, it doesn’t.

    Saturday, August 4, 2012 at 5:10 pm | Permalink
  36. Makabit wrote:

    “I take charges of Anti-Semitism very seriously, but I also know that sometimes (as when people show even a sliver of support or concern for the state of Palestine and its people) accusations of such are misused to shut the conversation all the way down.”

    I agree that accusations of anti-Semitism were used to deflect blame in the Polanski case, and avoid confronting his actual rape and abuse of this young woman.

    You should, however, be aware that the formulation used above, that accusations of anti-Semitism are used to control conversation about the Israel/Palestine conflict, is, in fact, often used to cover for actual anti-Semitism, and to provide people with an excuse for not learning the real history of the conflict, or taking responsibility for the bigotry they may speak.

    It’s remarkably similar to many other accusations about people ‘playing the race card’, and it plays a similar function.

    Was there some reason for bringing in an unrelated topic to illustrate your idea that people sometimes lie about the bigotry they face? Or was it easier than explaining why you don’t believe anti-Semitism was a factor in the Polanski case?

    Saturday, August 4, 2012 at 9:43 pm | Permalink
  37. Katherine wrote:

    One of my favorite things about Tiger Beatdown has been reading intelligent, intellectual conversations in the comment section, instead of the “I can say whatever the hell I want and if you own this space and want to control the dialogue than you are against freedom of speech!” nonsense that passes for discourse in most corners of the internet. I want to say 2 things:
    1) Good for Tiger Beatdown for having a strict comment policy.
    2) I am (a little) disappointed to see that you would bend such a good policy to make a *point*. It was not deserved by the commenter and just served to make the policy look more arbitrary than it actually is.

    Sunday, August 5, 2012 at 2:23 pm | Permalink
  38. Gabriella wrote:

    Thank you for such consistent, scathing intellectual discourse, Garland!

    Asking as someone who is largely ignorant of Vidal’s works and influence, is there anything by the guy worth checking out? Myra Breckinridge seems deplorable/antiquated. His persona reminds me a bit of an intellectual internet “troll”, made famous before that behavior became recognizable and commonplace. But people keep recommending him to me. Is there anything there?

    Sunday, August 5, 2012 at 2:52 pm | Permalink
  39. richard wrote:

    The polanski petition, those who work with him and defend him sicken me too.

    I have only read some of Vidal’s essays, “Palimpsest” and “live from Golgotha.” In Palimpsest, which is an autobiography, he described being raped when he was in his late teens either at the beginning of his military service or just before it started. (I borrowed the book from the library and do not have a copy to consult.) He ran into the same person at the end of the war, or shortly thereafter, when he was stronger and more sure of himself, and described the person as making a hasty retreat before he could rape him in turn. (or something of the sort, I am pretty sure he didn’t use the word rape.) He also wrote about accepting money for sex, in his late teens, and of paying for sex after the war. And of having lots of sex despite being a dud lay: making his partners do all of the work.

    I don’t know how to explain it all, or if I remember the book clearly enough, but my sense was that he was in a sense an abused person who went onto become an abuser perhaps because he had no pity or sympathy for his younger self. I think he saw it all as a game of dominance and control.

    Anyway, what he said was appalling and I am glad that I stumbled upon this thread.

    Thursday, August 16, 2012 at 9:34 am | Permalink