Shakespeare's Sister popped her cork over an article in Maxim picking on Ann Coulter's looks and wrote the editors a letter listing a whole lot of more important things about Coulter that need picking on.
Shakes is beautiful when she's angry.
But I'm not sure I'm with her on this one.
Normally, I'm against attacks on anybody, including loathsome Right Wing demagogues and hate-mongers masquerading as cultural critics, based on how they look. I don't even like the Smirky McChimpy stuff about Bush. But with Coulter there might be a valid exception.
Criticizing Ann Coulter's appearance is like analyzing the deceptive packaging on a defective product, like say the eye-popping and hypnotic visuals of a degenerate horror movie or the shiny new paint job on a lemon of car.
Ann Coulter is a product, designed, manufactured, and marketed by a former attorney named Ann Coulter, and the long blond hair, the girlish figure, the mini-skirts are the deceptive packaging.
Ann Coulter is packaged and sold as a pretty young woman. The packaging not only helps sell the product, it is intrinsic to its effectiveness.
In the guise of a pretty young woman Coulter gets away with her awfulness for the same reason pretty young women get out of tickets for speeding. No matter what outrageous or hateful thing she said last time she was on television, she gets invited back because she looks good on camera...or at least TV producers believe she does.
If it could be demonstrated that she is not in fact pretty or young---and as it happens, she is truly neither---if we could take away the props of her phony prettiness, the long blond hair, the make-up, the mini-skirts, and somehow have her seen by all and sundry as what she is, a scrawny, lantern-jawed, WASPishly plain, middle-aged harridan, we would go a long way towards driving her off the TV screens forever.
The trouble is that there isn't a good way to do that except to do what I just did, string together a list of insults that like most insults have a way of hitting more than the intended target. I'll bet that, reading the last paragraph, many of my women readers who hate Coulter felt themselves vaguely insulted.
That's the way it is with name-calling. No matter how factually descriptive the names are of the person they're aimed at, everybody else who's in earshot can't help taking them to heart.
Better to let time do the job for us. Plastic surgery can only accomplish so much. The day is coming when Ann Coulter won't be able to play the part of Ann Coulter anymore. And as she feels that day approaching she will either start withdrawing from the scene to go count her money or become increasingly desperate to hold the spotlight. I'm betting the latter. I'm hoping for it. The more desperate she gets, the wilder and crazier she'll get. Eventually the packaging won't be able to hide the product. Maybe that's already happening, which would explain the Jew-baiting kick she's suddenly on.
It happens to artists and performers all the time. All at once, for no intelligible reason, they set off down a path their fans don't want to follow or they develop a tin ear for what their audiences want to hear or they just lose their touch.
And make no mistake, Coulter is first and foremost a performer. That's the difference between her and the likes of Michelle Malkin. As publius explains, Malkin wants to be an effective movement propagandist, while Coulter wants to be...Ann Coulter, the Greatest Show On Earth.
I’m obviously speculating, but I think Coulter is essentially an act. She’s extreme, sure. What she says is abhorrent, agreed. But I think she’s carved out a niche for herself where her interests aren’t necessarily aligned with the conservative movement. She’s a self-promoting outrage artist -- her goal is not to promote an agenda but to stoke the fires. For instance, I have no doubt she was nothing but ecstatic about the public reception to her Edwards comments.
The point is that when Coulter sits at home at night, I suspect she conceives of herself as an entertainer. A shock-artist, sure -- and someone who is deliberately offensive. But, an entertainer nonetheless.
I'm sure Coulter believes in the Right Wing bilgewater she pumps up and out from the dark, dank bottom of the rat-infested cargo hold that passes for her soul, as far as that goes. But she's only interested in the effect of what she says to the degree that it gets her attention and makes her money. Malkin wants to be effective, politically, and, in her bizarre way, she wants to be right. She's given herself a job to do and she wants to do it well and that's why she goes so crazy when she screws up, as she did with her assault on the Frost family. Coulter never worries about being wrong, says publius.
Coulter, by contrast, is smarter and far smoother. She couldn’t care less about any pushback -- she wants the pushback. That’s why it’s rarer to see Coulter engage in defensive, rage-filled rambling. Attacks don’t make her mad -- even if she’s factually wrong. She’s not a believer in the cause, or her journalistic integrity -- she’s an entertainer.
Yup. This is why she can't be argued with. She can only be out-performed.
The worst thing that can happen to Ann Coulter from Ann Coutler's point of view is that she winds up sharing a stage or a camera with someone whose act is funnier than hers.
She's usually careful not to let that happen. Don't know how then she put herself in the position of having Al Franken teach her how to tell a joke.
The irony is that Coulter's act was sketched out for her by liberals. Not political liberals. Cultural ones.
Since the rise of Lenny Bruce, MAD magazine, the National Lampoon, and on into the early years of Saturday Night, cultural elitists, usually of a socially liberal bent (politically they have been all over the map, with many of them best described as anarchists, but the majority have probably been politically to the left) have championed a notion of comedy in particular---art in general---as a subversive act.
Skewering sacred cows and mocking the powers that be has been the job of comics and clowns since the invention of comedy. Satire is an old art form. But within that generation satire became the comedic ideal and it was granted a more directly political mission. Comedy became a way to engage in political action.
At least, it was seen to be.
What we failed to take into account here is that for the first two-thirds of the 20th Century America was busy shaping itself into a liberal society. Richard Nixon, Ronald Reagan, and George W. Bush and Dick Cheney are villains because they set out to destroy that society.
Our sacred cows---democracy, tolerance, civil rights for all---are liberal sacred cows. The powers that be are, or were, liberal elites. Nixon and Reagan were effective because they were able to persuade a large chunk of the People that they were not included in that society, that they were in fact oppressed by it.
Coulter and Rush Limbaugh and Bill O'Reilly continue their work.
Within this context, Coulter could pretend to be, and be taken to be, a satirist doing the same job as Lenny Bruce and the first cast of Saturday Night Live.
Well, except for the fact that she's not funny. But that's why the pretty young woman packaging is so important.
Coulter's act has always contained within it the means of its own negation. She undermines herself, not, unfortunately, with the terrible things she says, but by packaging herself as a pretty young woman. Even as she gets out of trouble the way real pretty young women get out of speeding tickets, she can be dismissed the way real pretty young women are often dismissed.
A lot of people we here in West Blogtopia (TM Skippy) would like to see enraged by her aren't enraged because they don't take her seriously.
Some of them accept her as "just" an entertainer. Some of them, though, see her as just a pretty face. They don't believe that anyone who looks like her could mean the awful things she says, and some of them, deep in their sexist hearts, don't believe someone who looks like her even understands what she says.
Coulter is sharp enough to know this and count on it when she's worried she's gone too far. "It's a joke," she'll say, tossing all that long blond hair as if to add, "How could you think anyone as pretty and perky and charming as me could be so nasty?"
Times like that I wish for a squad of ninja barbers to drop on ropes from the studio catwalks.
PS. None of what I said about comedy and our having a liberal society should be taken to mean that a liberal society is exempt from satire. Just because a society is liberal doesn't mean its sacred cows shouldn't be skewered and its powers-that-be shouldn't be mocked. Liberal societies even encourage such skewerings and mockeries. Keeps them honest and on their toes. The likes of an Ann Coulter take advantage of that fact. They depend on our liberalism.