Camille Paglia: "I’m a libertarian. That’s why I’m always freely offending both sides"

In new interview with Tyler Cowen, Paglia talks cultural conservatism, "Star Wars" and why Rihanna let her down

Published April 28, 2016 9:00PM (EDT)

Academic and "Glittering Images" author, Camille Paglia, sat down for a wide-ranging interview with George Mason University professor and host of Medium's "Conversations with Tyler," Tyler Cowen.

"Young people have no sense whatever of the expansive, of the big gesture," Paglia said, attributing this fading "sense of the large" to the "miniaturization of image."

Asked if her lamenting the grandiosity of images in '50s Hollywood films makes her a cultural conservative, Paglia said, "No, not at all."

"Usually, I’m not saying we need to return to anything," she explained. "I’m a libertarian. That’s why I’m always freely offending both sides."

On George Lucas — who she calls "the greatest artist of our time" in her book — and the latest "Star Wars" iteration, "The Force Awakens," that he had no hand in, Paglia admitted that she hasn't seen it.

"I wouldn’t dream of going," she said. "When it’s on TV, I’ll look at it. Please. Do you think I want to sit in a theater and be tortured by the contamination of my ideals? I’m not going to do that."

Perhaps more inflammatory than Paglia's appreciation for the "Star Wars" prequels is her lukewarm take on The Beatles.

"The Rolling Stones are inspired by, animated by, to this day, by the blues tradition," she said when asked to weigh in on the Stones-Beatles discussion. "The Beatles really were more almost Broadway and musical comedy."

"They were tremendous songsmiths, but there’s nothing dark about them."

Paglia was hard-pressed to name a modern pop performer that can stand up to the aforementioned 20th-century greats.

"I was really very hopeful about Rihanna for a while there," she said. "Unfortunately, she’s not really working with the top producers any longer. The new album is an atrocity. It’s really terrible."

Read the full transcript here, and/or watch below:

By Brendan Gauthier

Brendan Gauthier is a freelance writer.

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Camille Paglia Glittering Images