Home > Article > Nothing Always Happens > Final O’Neil Musings

Not to flog a dead horse, or thinking that anyone cares, but
I thought I’d give my final two cents on O’Neil’s appearance on Stern. I surfed
around this morning, and the common response on the myriad forums of discussion
is “Art people are snobs, fuck off. Rock on, Robyn!” This is from all the art
people, of course, reflecting the common self-righteously “other” persona that
artists group in large numbers to assume, as if in a protective stance against
the ennui felt about heavy stuffed-shirt culture – in who’s ranks I guess I’ve
been lumped. We is the Man. Newsflash – there is no other. Y’all are not cool
and edgy. There is no avant-garde.

I don’t think I expressed much horror, nor has anyone else;
more just sort of befuddlement. If you read the Stern breakdown that started
all this, and only that, it comes across as fairly demeaning and weird. To me
and at least a few others, anyway. Like, “Well, what do we do now with this
artist chick but ask her to masturbate and lift her shirt?” Why is a
rumored-to-be-happily-married woman failing to mention that, in order to wrangle a
date with Benjy (or lying about wishing to do so to get on the show in the
first place) and discussing her masturbation fantasy of giving head to obese
depressive alcoholic drug-addicted masochistic Artie (however fascinating he
might be) on global satellite radio? Talking at length with O’Neil about it, of
course the thing gets humanized and it’s easy to understand her nuanced
experience (if not everything she said), factoring in her long hours listening
to Stern in her studio, and the fact she’s a fandom junky, etc etc. Which is
all honest and fine, and actually not all that special: it is the standard mode
. It’s cool for “smart people” to like TV and crassness and all things
pop and lowly. This is all such old news. It’s what 90% of all art is about
now. That culture war was won decades ago. Stern isn’t (however speciously)
called the “King of All Media”, and making $500,000,000 a year, for nothing.
And anybody actually heard of Warhol around here?

But the elephant in the room is that O’Neil herself freaked out, got
upset and defensive, and demanded that everybody take the picture of her
lifting her shirt down ASAP, or get sued. Now, she said this in the absolute
nicest possible way, and while I may not yet be in her ‘circle of trust’, we
have had a sort of meeting of the minds and are continuing an enjoyable
exchange. She’s seems very gracious, generous, and nice. I have expressed to her the same
things I’m saying here, namely that I wanted to leave the picture up for
honesty’s sake, not to punish. If it was all so much fun, then let it ride, it’s simply
the nature of the Stern beast. Celebrities have to deal with this shit daily,
as does everybody else who goes on Stern. If you want to go dance around in the
glaring light of hilarious, multi-million audience
listening/watching, crass media culture (which is culture now as far as
anyone can tell,) then just do it and watch, giggling, while the Google hits

But I think it’s interesting (and a totally honest reaction)
that she flipped out to find herself there, and felt sick and scared and ready
to escape from her own skin, because the situation wasn’t natural, the intimacy
and the nuances didn’t get translated into the breakdown (how healthy it is to
realize one isn’t Tia Tequila. It’s maybe a good sign.) That private-seeming little party happened in
front of an audience of millions and millions of people and growing, for 24
hours anyway in a slow media cycle. Her parents didn’t like it at all, and she felt embarrassed. So, could the intimacy she experienced perhaps be a tad
naïve? Wasn’t she really just another prop, all the more exotic for simply being a touch more
eloquent, and reluctant to bare all, than the typical aspiring-stripper tourist
from the boonies, or Sybian-riding porn star? The bit mainly consisted of
their bread-and-butter shtick, which is to demean, deflate, lower, and
flatten, turning women into objects of alternating desire and revulsion. In her
Globe interview about it, O’Neil seems to think she elevated the usual content,
that they were all so glad to have a breath of fresh, noble high art culture
air. Maybe they were (though I just heard the typical "wow, I should get
into that racket" cliches). I doubt the next stripping midget who gets
tossed will notice the elevated atmosphere. And if O’Neil weren’t pretty, she doubtless
would have simply been flayed alive…

The actual Stern fans acted like you’d expect on their
message boards, analyzing her body, her breast size and ass-firmness, etc, just
like the master. Of course it’s entertaining! Who doesn’t like nudity and sex?
Who can turn away? Me, I love Henry Miller, naked old Blake, Annie Sprinkle,
and reruns of Real Sex. But everyone is defending Robyn as if she was having such
a fabulous rockin’ time, when personally, all things considered, it looks
really like about as much fun as having a prostate exam on Larry King. “Oh,
Larry, I’ve dreamed about this for such a long time!” “My pleasure, kid, it’s my



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9 Responses

  1. tonythetiger

    I am not sure what she expected. The “machine” that has helped to promote her also brought her to the lion den. Her first drawing exhibited her naive style and quirkiness- which helps make her a success. Now she has fallen into believing (thanks to the “machine”) that she is a master craftsman of drawing and not of HER style. Once you believe you are better than you are you measurement of opportunity and good judgement may go to the wayside… then again maybe not. Good Job Titus… at least someone here is articulate.

  2. b.s.

    Academic fu ck. Your walls of words and restraint are protecting you from the world and from yourself. Can you be both stupid and smart? Don’t you ever spill your coffee? You are a goddamn human too and the prickly sticky parts of our lives are becoming more public every day. You want to still pretend modernism is smart and if we all just try for the greater good we’ll get out of here alive? Get over yourself and go take a crap.

    She has a lot of ‘splainin to do to feminists who are hurt by her exploitative/exploited actions, but disappointment in reinforcing the sexual status quo is a separate from open chastisement from bitches wit degrees.

  3. tobrienwriter

    who’s post are you responding to? Not mine apparently. Did you even read it? Are you capable of anything but sound-bite reflexive shit-disturbing?
    I’m speaking from the midst of this very human mess. I’m not proposing solutions, or preaching. I’m trying to come to some kind of terms with the complex set of circumstances that gave rise to a series of responses, from the most crass and simplistic to emotions virtually operatic. Name calling and macho dick waving, your two main moves on this site, are tired and stale. Why not just go and count all those hits on your own.
    I can say that I genuinely like Robyn, like her work, respect her decision to appear on Stern and do her thing. But I think she of all people understands that it has been the cause for some more complex responses than just “She rocks” or “What a whore!” For herself as much as anyone. Stern himself is a complex phenomena, not to be reduced to good/bad. But I feel it’s all worth thinking about a little…

  4. coffee and a cigarette

    Titus and b.s.,
    You are cracking me up! How did she ask to have the pic pulled? Did she say, “I’ll SUE you like a screen door, baby”? Yes, you can use that line, too Rustbelt Sean. If she’s married, why is she answering to her parents? This is funnier than the show!

  5. b.s.

    Ya know, I do think that the simple stuff, waving dicks and calling names, is the best. The midst of this human mess is the problem, worrying about fixing it.

    Maybe you should take some photographs Titus, it’ll make you feel better.

  6. souladventurer

    This is all really funny. And it makes me wonder why this is all such a big deal in the first place. Are “non-celebs” now under the kind of scrutiny that rags like People and US offer now that millions of viewers can asses your good/bad traits cheaply and easily? Why do we as human beings constantly look outside of ourselves for someone to judge? Why are we so obsessed with copies and representation?

    This fiasco is really interesting and I think it’s really telling – the ways it’s blown up like this… I may have a new project…

  7. b.s.

    I mean to say that we should recognize that everything we do and communicate is a public act, not only that we need to accept our actions (and damage control is part of that, it’s not denial) and acknowledge that we need to mutually trust another’s opinions and empathize with their actions.

    You can’t tell people anything if they don’t understand you and bluntness v. subtlety is an inside view that doesn’t recognize that morals are subjective and intricate and hypocritical. Living is learning, and the projection of your own credulous thoughts makes you an ass, despite the boobs on the internet.

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