View Full Version : Elizabeth Taylor
24th March 2011, 15:39
Of all of the tributes that I have read for Elizabeth Taylor, by far the best comes from the pen of Camille Paglia, as published at Salon:
Her contentions could have come straight from the Judgment of Paris forum.
The title sets the tone perfectly:
Paglia on Taylor: "A luscious, opulent, ripe fruit!"
The piece is formatted as a Q&A interview with Paglia. At first, the questioner recalls some of the Paglia's past comments on Taylor:
SALON: You called her "a pre-feminist woman." You said: "She wields the sexual power that feminism cannot explain and has tried to destroy. Through stars like Taylor, we sense the world-disordering impact of legendary women like Delilah, Salome, and Helen of Troy. Feminism has tried to dismiss the femme fatale as a misogynist libel, a hoary cliche. But the femme fatale expresses women's ancient and eternal control of the sexual realm."
How fitting that the "luscious" Taylor should be compared to Helen of Troy (a role that she once played, in the film version of Marlowe's Dr. Faustus). And surely, given what we know of the Classical feminine aesthetic, the real Helen of Troy (since Helen was acknowledged to be the most beautiful woman in the world) must have been full-figured -- the Shannon Marie of her time.
Paglia elaborates as follows:
To me, Elizabeth Taylor's importance as an actress was that she represented a kind of womanliness that is now completely impossible to find on the U.S. or U.K. screen. It was rooted in hormonal reality -- the vitality of nature. She was single-handedly a living rebuke to postmodernism and post-structuralism, which maintain that gender is merely a social construct...Julianne Moore and Annette Bening [are] painfully scrawny to look at on the screen. This is the standard starvation look that is now projected by Hollywood women stars -- a skeletal, Pilates-honed, anorexic silhouette, which has nothing to do with females as most of the world understands them. There's something almost android about the depictions of women currently being projected by Hollywood.
Precisely so. This is the core point that the Judgment of Paris has always made: that the main reason, above all others, why androgynous emaciation is imposed today is because full-figured femininity disproves the political myth that gender is a cultural construct and reasserts the traditional conception of natural femininity.
Paglia's paragraph, above, should be embossed and framed.
She continues with more fine points:
SALON: This was something you've written a lot about, the skinny starlets, the Gwyneth Paltrows ...
PAGLIA: If Gwyneth Paltrow were growing up in the 1930s, she would have been treated as a hopelessly gawky wallflower who would be mortified by her lanky figure. But everything about her is being pushed on to American young women as the ultimate ideal. And it's even more unpalatable to me now because I've been spending the last few years speaking in Brazil, and I'm fascinated by Brazilian women -- their humor, energy and openness and the way they express their sexuality so naturally and beautifully. I love it because it's so much like the old Hollywood style.
How interesting that Paglia should find Brazil -- home of well-fed beauties like size-20 Mayara Russi -- a preferable alternative to modern Hollywood's starvation standard.
I love how she points out that the so-called "beauty" of underweight Gwyneth Paltrow would have been seen as flat-chested homeliness, at best, in the 1930s, or in any era prior to that. But the truth is, Paltrow is STILL seen that way in the real world -- just not in the artificial reality of Hollywood.
The following passage by Paglia gives the article its title:
But she was like a luscious, opulent, ripe fruit. She enjoyed life to the max. She loved to eat and drink, she loved baubles, and she had a terrific sense of humor -- people would say they could hear her raucously laughing from a mile away.
A "luscious, opulent, ripe fruit" who "loved to eat" and was considered one of the most beautiful women in the world. This is the ideal that girls SHOULD be aspiring to and inspired by. It describes many of the most gorgeous and popular plus-size models today.
I particularly appreciate this passage for its denunciation of feminist modernity:
There was a long feminist attack on the Hollywood sex symbol as a sex object, a commodified thing, passive to the male gaze, and it's such a crock!
Elizabeth Taylor's maternal quality is central to her heterosexual power. Elizabeth Taylor could control men. She liked men. And men liked her. There was a chemistry between her and men, coming from her own maternal instincts. I've been writing about this for years, and it was partly inspired by watching Taylor operate on-screen and off. The happy and successful heterosexual woman feels tender and maternal toward men -- but this has been completely lost in our feminist era. Now women tell men, you have to be my companion and be just like a woman; be my best friend, and listen to me chatter. In other words, women don't really like men anymore -- they want men to be like women. But Elizabeth Taylor liked men, and men loved to be around her because they sensed that.
She touches on something important when she calls this a "maternal quality." The fuller female figure is a physical embodiment and expression of that "maternal quality," so no wonder that feminism tries to brutally suppress this.
As an aside, I also agree with the following point by Paglia:
By the way, do you notice how we're calling her an "actress"? The minute Hollywood actresses decided to become "actors," they lost their sexuality. It's time to junk that pretentious term.
All in all, a very fine piece, and a thoughtful and significant tribute to Elizabeth Taylor and what she, and her full-figured physicality, represents, especially in this anti-feminine modern age.
24th March 2011, 20:57
Elizabeth Rosemond (the names mean "daughter of God" and "rose of the world," respectively) was a veritable avatar of the Great Mother archetype, clothed in luscious human flesh. The Great Mother is not just a bearer and nurturer of children, but a fully sexual being. The term "Hot Mama" doesn't exist for nothing.
Her violet eyes, raven hair, and ivory skin recall Tolkien's Elf-maiden Lúthien Tinúviel, said to be the fairest creature ever made. Like Lúthien, Elizabeth Taylor was beautiful, gracious, and ferocious, but unlike the ethereal, high-hearted Elf, Taylor won and discarded the hearts of men as it pleased her.
Like any goddess, Taylor welcomed, and perhaps demanded, expensive tribute. Richard Burton, whom she twice married, heaped her with a queen's ransom of jewels. One priceless necklace, in which was set the famous pearl La Peregrina, briefly went missing, only to turn up unharmed in the mouth of one of her beloved dogs.
Also like a goddess, she gave precious presents. In the television advertisement for her perfume, White Diamonds, the actress removes her earrings and bestows them upon a young man, like Aphrodite giving Hippomenes the golden apples by which he won Atalanta's hand in marriage.
<iframe title="YouTube video player" width="480" height="390" src="http://www.youtube.com/embed/ZtCD30bKyNc" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen></iframe>
Elizabeth Taylor's body was lush and soft. Even in her thinner phases, she had an appealing, inviting softness, so unlike the tanned-and-toned gym rats of today's Hollywood. Her sweet voice and star-bright eyes were all the sweeter and brighter for being housed in such a shapely, feminine body.
Even in old age, even shorn of her hair after surgery for a brain tumor, her beauty remained. She had the bearing of the Tudor queen whose name she shared -- or perhaps a more appropriate comparison is to Hatshepsut, the female pharaoh who, unlike Cleopatra, lived long enough to reach her fiftieth year.
The old eulogistic saw is true: The world is poorer for having lost Elizabeth Taylor, but richer for having had her here, with her magical beauty, her talent, and her great, warm heart.
25th March 2011, 12:08
And Amen to that. The world is a much poorer place without that cat on a hot tin roof.
26th March 2011, 14:30
The daughter of an art dealer, Elizabeth Taylor became an art collector in adulthood. This article from HansEworth.com tells the story of how she and Sir Richard Burton helped the National Portrait Gallery acquire a miniature portrait of Mary I.
[M]any (if not most) visitors to the National Portrait Gallery, London will never know that Elizabeth Taylor (and her then husband, Richard Burton) were also great lovers of the arts. And it was because of this love that today the NPG has in its collection a small but beautiful portrait of Queen Mary I of England by Hans Eworth.
The portrait depicts the queen wearing La Peregrina, the great pearl given to her by her husband, Philip II of Spain. This is the pearl acquired by Burton, set in a new necklace designed by Elizabeth Taylor, and famously gnawed upon by one of the couple's Pekingese dogs.
Burton and Taylor could have quite easily purchased the picture and kept it in their private collection. Often pictures purchased in such a fashion make it unlikely that they are ever seen again, or at least for many, many years. Instead, Taylor and Burton chose to help the National Portrait Gallery buy the picture, ensuring that it would remain with the nation forever.
One might imagine that anyone who made such a generous gift would not hesitate to noise such patronage abroad. Sir Richard and Dame Elizabeth did just the opposite.
Within the NPG files mention of the Burton/Taylor purchase is thin, not because the NPG has no wish to acknowledge it (they do so today on their website). But rather, it seems clear that Taylor and Burton had no wish to draw attention to themselves, but rather to allow the picture and the NPG to shine.
The author closes her article with this:
Although most people will remember Dame Elizabeth for her important and historic charitable work, and her powerful performances, I will always remember her as a selfless supporter of the arts in England.
28th March 2011, 05:34
A Vogue article about Taylor begins with a noteworthy statement.
Says the writer:
If you ever thought, even for a moment, that skinny is better, that you need to spend a lot on an evening dress to look spectacular, you have only to gaze at Elizabeth Taylor as Gloria Wandrous in Butterfield 8, leaving Weston Liggett’s apartment in a satin slip (albeit covered by Liggett’s wife’s mink coat) after a rough night during which her frock was eviscerated.
Of course, the trouble is that if any woman does think that "skinny is better," she has Vogue itself very much to blame. So chalk this up as another example of a glaring mixed message. Vogue could be booking models with Elizabeth Taylor's curves all the time, if it wanted to. And in a sane world - a world where the fashion industry weren't controlled by degenerates literally sending skinny boys down the runway instead of women - it would be.
28th March 2011, 15:12
Since I mentioned Camille Paglia in this thread, I thought I'd also post an article that she penned for the New York Times last year, in which she makes some comments that are worth considering.
I don't agree with all of her points, because I definitely think that a little modesty would do modern women much good, and that being demure is far more attractive and feminine than being vulgar. However, where I find her article especially welcome is that she decries the modern political brainwashing that suppresses the fact that there exist profound, essential, biological differences between men and women. I also appreciate that she points out how damaging this social-construct agenda is to people in the real world, and to human relations, leading to the kind of androgynous dystopia that the media and the fashion world have imposed on us today:
Concrete power resides in America’s careerist technocracy, for which the elite schools, with their ideological view of gender as a social construct, are feeder cells.
In the discreet white-collar realm, men and women are interchangeable, doing the same, mind-based work. Physicality is suppressed; voices are lowered and gestures curtailed in sanitized office space. Men must neuter themselves, while ambitious women postpone procreation. Androgyny...in real life it can lead to stagnation and boredom, which no pill can cure.
Even more important is the following passage, in which she indicates that the modern-media push to inflict gym-torture on women has an ideological basis, as part of a feminist agenda to erase natural, soft femininity and to impose a masculinized way of looking (and thinking) on women:
Furthermore, thanks to a bourgeois white culture that values efficient bodies over voluptuous ones, American actresses have desexualized themselves, confusing sterile athleticism with female power. Their current Pilates-honed look is taut and tense — a boy’s thin limbs and narrow hips combined with amplified breasts. Contrast that with Latino and African-American taste, which runs toward the healthy silhouette of the bootylicious Beyoncé.
However, I disagree with her on her racial comparison. As this important post (http://www.judgmentofparis.com/board/showthread.php?t=2022) from last year noted, the look of androgynous "sterile athleticism" that the modern media pushes is not a "white" ideal at all. Historically, European culture and European-American culture always preferred "voluptuous bodies" and the full-figured feminine ideal.
The modern media has no connection to the Western tradition. It is an alien force, something that has attacked traditional European and European-American culture from without, imposing an unnatural aesthetic on the West. Traditional "white" taste was the same as the "Latino and African-American taste" that Paglia describes: all of these cultures loved plus-size beauty. The rootless, deracinated modern media imposes an artificial aesthetic that flies in the face of all traditional cultures and their timeless ideals.
29th March 2011, 02:32
Ooooh, an Elizabeth Taylor thread! I've always admired this raven-haired beauty, and was greatly saddened to hear of the passing of one of the most beautiful actresses of classic Hollywood. Though she was very small-framed, there was an undeniable softness about her that exuded femininity.
One thing that has always struck me about Taylor was how she embodied both 'classy' and 'sexy' at the same time.
While androgynous modern celebrities need to expose every inch of their bodies and dance vulgarly to grasp at some semblance of sexiness (with often repulsive results), Elizabeth Taylor took the opposite approach. In the above shot from Butterfield 8, she shows only a hint of decolletage and a modestly knee-length hemline, giving her an alluring yet modest look.
It speaks volumes about the society we live in; today's actresses are so unappealingly thin and unfeminine that the only way they can attempt to make themselves attractive is through overt depictions of sex. During Taylor's heyday, however, actresses knew how to use their femininity to attract in subtle, simmering ways.
Elizabeth Taylor was poised, graceful, sensual and elegant. Maureen's Lúthien Tinúviel metaphor is an apt one -- Taylor would not be out of place in Tolkien's world, her ethereal beauty and eternal womanliness earning her a place as the most renowned of goddesses.
Modern celebrities have much to learn from such a classic beauty -- in both physical appearance and charm of character.
3rd April 2011, 14:29
An article in the Boston Globe offers an interesting follow-up to the Salon write-up about Elizabeth Taylor, dovetailing with many of Paglia's ideas. It's plagued by mixed messages but has some worthwhile things to say.
The writer praises the specifically well-fed characteristics of Taylor's beauty:
If she truly was the last movie star, one wonders how that could be. To get close to an answer, you would have to begin with the body. It was ample...In the hip, the bosom, the hair: More was more. Two curves were an hourglass. The arms carried a little flesh. The face seemed full...How gratifying to hear those terms used approvingly. This is a rare example of size-positive discourse in the mainstream media, not just on this forum.
The writer notes that Taylor wasn't an anomaly, but was part of a while class of curvaceous actresses (the best examples being Anita Ekberg and Kim Novak):
Lots of women, lots of movie stars were built like Taylor, full-figured, untoned, and uninhibited, with Marilyn Monroe, Sophia Loren, and Gina Lollobrigida completing an unmatched Trinity of mid-20th-century bodaciousness.The key word there is "untoned." That's the secret of the beauty of actresses prior to second-wave feminism: they didn't have masculinized, androgynous, gym-distorted physiques, like today's actresses do. An untoned figure is a feminine figure. It's very telling that as feminism waged war on femininity, one of the casualties was the untoned, fleshy, feminine body.
The following comment is instructive in two ways:
In 1953, Russell and Monroe, the strapping brunette and the iconic blonde, left their footprints, handprints, and signatures alongside each other at Grauman’s Chinese Theatre. Russell and the Trinity embodied male sex fantasies..."Male sex fantasies"? Well, it certainly is true that actress's body sizes have diminished as the media power of heterosexual men has diminished, while women and men-who-aren't-attracted-to-women have grown more influential. So certainly the heterosexual male attraction to women was a key component in the traditional beauty ideal of the West. But notice how the phrase "male sex fantasies" makes it sound so seamy. Why use this terminology? This is how the feminists libel what is a natural, human, aesthetic appreciation. Why not instead say "male aesthetic attraction"? That's what it is. The very terminology used here indicates the ideological thinking that found fault with curvaceous femininity and suppressed it.
The writer makes an interesting case when he observes how Taylor's full-figured physique, far from being merely incidental, was in fact part of her performances:
She made her body part of the drama. If we didn’t already know why Brick won’t give Maggie a baby in “Cat on a Hot Tin Roof,’’ that untouched negligee that clings to Taylor more or less outs him. Taylor wasn’t simply being with her body. She was acting with it.In other words, "the body is the message." It reminds me of the commentary here on the Judgment of Paris that discusses how plus-size models' pictures evoke specific emotions or represent certain philosophical ideas.
The article's writer notes that androgynous emaciation has displaced curvaceous femininity, and his words tie in this idea with the notion of the aesthetics of guilt ( http://www.judgmentofparis.com/board/showthread.php?t=1762) that repeatedly comes up on this forum:
physical slightness that has endured, as well as the vestal restraint it promoted.It's such a paradox, though. On the one hand, the media suppresses the physical voluptuousness of the plus-size female figure in favour of a kind of secular-puritanical look. On the other hand, though, the media is suffused with vulgarity and immortal behaviour of every kind, infinitely cruder than in Taylor's day. It's as if the world has been turned upside-down from the way it should be: It lost the pleasure of traditional, well-fed feminine beauty, yet smashed the moral values that gave humanity a certain dignity. We now have the worst of both worlds, while, in the past, we had the best of both.
The writer identifies, not Twiggy, but Jane Fonda as the transitional figure. There may be something to this, given that Fonda was consciously political.
The transitional star from Taylor’s lavish, calculating sexuality to the sexless posing we have now is Jane Fonda. By the 1970s, she had shown women in serious modern roles, not just love stories. But in doing so, she killed some of the fun...What followed in the 1980s was a kind of flagrant, viral misogyny in American movies that never quite subsided.Note the latter point: feminism didn't in fact fight misogyny, but caused it. In eradicating the heterosexual male aesthetic, feminism enabled the misogyny of men who, like today's fashion designers, are physically repulsed by feminine curves, and the misogyny of ideologically-minded women who see in the voluptuous female body a kind of traditional femininity to which they are politically opposed, and which they seek to suppress.
The writer contrasts Taylor to the closest modern equivalent of a curvaceous starlet, and makes a cutting observation:
At the height of her stardom, Elizabeth Taylor was Cleopatra. At the height of hers, [Jennifer] Lopez was a maid in Manhattan.
He offers one, small hope for the redemption of the female figure:
It’s not just our feelings about stardom that have changed in the last 50 years. It’s our idea of the body. One of the joys of watching AMC’s “Mad Men’’ is the arch pleasure it takes in the archetypal body of the 1960s womanBut as of yet, no other show has followed Mad Men's lead in presenting full-figured actresses as icons of desire (not that Christina Hendricks is even full-figured). We are all still waiting for the media to celebrate a modern-day equivalent of Elizabeth Taylor, Kim Novak, Anita Ekberg - actresses with "ample" curves, with "flesh," with "untoned" bodies, with "full" facial features, with physiques that prove "more is more" (to use the writer's descriptions of Taylor). But it hasn't happened yet. Let's hope it does.
4th April 2011, 20:22
I wonder sometimes if the insane death-aesthetic of high fashion is not the result of twisted minds to which the shocking and the ugly have become "beautiful."
6th April 2011, 17:24
I wonder sometimes if the insane death-aesthetic of high fashion is not the result of twisted minds to which the shocking and the ugly have become "beautiful."
I think you've made a very good point. The cabal of weak men and the feminists who have created this entire framework are out of ideas. When one no longer has anything relevant to say, shock value becomes the last resort. Because many of them seem to value so-called originality for its own sake rather than valuing beauty, grace, and high ideals, they have thrown the culture into a dark pit of ugliness and have succeeded in convincing people that this ugliness is necessary because they (the degenerates) find it original/moving/important or whatever sort of jive talk they've manage to cook up. You can see this influence in art, fashion, literature, film; everywhere that beauty and grace was once used to express cultural ideals is now poisoned with this ugliness. Nowhere else has this degenerate ideal had a more destructive influence than on women's bodies in film and in fashion, and just in general.
Thank goodness we still have pictures and old movies of these golden-age goddess of Hollywood's past. Elizabeth Taylor was always one of my favorite actresses, my favorite films being Cleopatra and The Taming of the Shrew. Cleopatra especially because of the many beautiful clothes and headdresses that she wore. Only the old-time Hollywood actresses could pull off such excesses. There are no actresses today in Hollywood who compare to such goddesses. The ones that have the ability eventually cave to the pressure to be thin in order to continue working.
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