Camille Paglia on Oscar Glamour Then and Now: “Grandeur of Old Hollywood Is Gone” (Guest Column)
by Camille Paglia
Terry O’Neill/Getty Images; Peter Kramer/Bravo/NBCU Photo Bank/Getty Images
The social critic and author of the upcoming ‘Free Women, Free Men: Sex, Gender, Feminism,’ writes that Elizabeth Taylor’s 1961 win was “a huge cultural watershed, a prefiguration of the coming sexual revolution,” which predated a new generation of “hip, smart and cynical” stars.
As a child, I had two pagan high holy days every year. The first was Halloween, where I advertised my transgender soul by masquerading as a matador, a Roman soldier, Napoleon or Hamlet. The second was Oscar night, when Hollywood put its dazzling glamour on heady display for the whole world.
As I was growing up in the drearily conformist 1950s and early ’60s, it was hard to find information about popular culture, which wasn’t taken seriously. Deep-think European art films were drawing tiny coteries of intellectuals to small, seedy theaters, but flamboyant mainstream Hollywood was still dismissed as crass, commercial trash.