Sex, Art, and American Culture  

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"Cultural pessimists like Theodor W. Adorno and their brethren of the Frankfurt School hold that culture industries cultivate false needs; that is, needs created and satisfied by capitalism. True needs, in contrast, are freedom, creativity or genuine happiness.

Camille Paglia responds in Sex, Art, and American Culture: "All the P.R. in the world cannot make a hit movie or sitcom. The people vote with ratings and dollars. Academic Marxists, with their elitist sense of superiority to popular taste, are the biggest snobs in America."--Sholem Stein, 2006

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Kunstformen der Natur (1904) by Ernst Haeckel
Kunstformen der Natur (1904) by Ernst Haeckel

Sex, Art and American Culture: Essays (1992) is a collection of short pieces by Camille Paglia, many published previously as editorials or reviews, and some transcripts of interviews. The essays cover such subjects as Madonna, Elizabeth Taylor, black music, rock music, Robert Mapplethorpe, Clarence Thomas Supreme Court nomination, rape, Marlon Brando, drag, Milton Kessler, and academia. It made the New York Times bestseller list for paperbacks.

Whereas the 24 chapters of Sexual Personae looked at the study of decadence in art and culture from Egyptian history to the late 19th century, Sex, Art, and American Culture (1992), exposed readers to Paglia's views on contemporary figures such as Madonna ("the future of feminism"), Elizabeth Taylor, Robert Mapplethorpe and Anita Hill.

Two chapters of the book were devoted to date rape, which the author said contemporary feminists had been incapable of preventing. "Rape is an outrage that cannot be tolerated in civilized society", she wrote, "yet feminism, which has waged a crusade for rape to be taken more seriously, has put young women in danger by hiding the truth about sex from them."


  • Madonna I: animality and artifice
  • Madonna II: Venus of the radio waves
  • Elizabeth Taylor: Hollywood's pagan queen
  • Rock as art
  • Homosexuality at the fin de siecle
  • The joy of Presbyterian sex
  • The beautiful decadence of Robert Mapplethorpe: a response to Rochelle Gurstein
  • The strange case of Clarence Thomas and Anita Hill
  • Rape and modern sex war
  • The rape debate, continued
  • Cleopatra sold down the river : Lucy Hughes-Hallett's Cleopatra: histories, dreams and distortions
  • Alice in muscle land: Samuel Wilson Fussell's muscle: confessions of an unlikely bodybuilder
  • The critic at graceful ease: Wendy Lesser's his other half: men looking at women through art
  • The big udder: Suzanne Gordon's prisoners of men's dreams
  • Brando flashing: Richard Schickel's Brando: a life in our times
  • What a drag: Marjorie Garber's vested interests: cross-dressing and cultural anxiety
  • Sexual personae: the cancelled preface
  • Milton Kessler: a memoir
  • East and west: an experiment in multiculturalism
  • Junk bonds and corporate raiders: academe in the hour of the wolf
  • The M.I.T. lecture: crisis in the American universities.

See also

Unless indicated otherwise, the text in this article is either based on Wikipedia article "Sex, Art, and American Culture" or another language Wikipedia page thereof used under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License; or on research by Jahsonic and friends. See Art and Popular Culture's copyright notice.

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