Chrestomathic online dating
I don’t mean to dismiss homophobia, and a cultural terror of same-sex attraction which comes out in truly ugly ways.But men who USE themselves in a stereotypically feminine way – like Valentino, like Elvis – who are comfortable being objectified, who present themselves to their female fans without embarrassment, admitting that they are objects of sexual desire … Women have no business CHOOSING what/who they find attractive.His Italian mind was simply unequal to the situation.So he sought counsel from the neutral, aloof, and seasoned.Now there is a lot to be said about this kind of nonsense, which still goes on today. But I think the true roots of this kind of thing is misogyny of a particularly virulent strain.(Any time anyone says, “You throw like a girl” to a little boy, the virus is passed on.Elvis fans, primarily female, were so held in contempt that nobody thought to ask them, “What do you see in this guy?” It would have been fascinating to hear some of the answers. The whole world is coming to an end once men accept pink talcum powder as normal, and we blame Rudolph Valentino for that. And Mencken wrote the following piece as an elegy, one of the most beautiful things ever written about Valentino.
You can see it when women decide they love fantasy-fodder such as Twilight or Justin Bieber or pick-your-poison: the what-whats of the critical establishment go AFTER these women (or, more accurately, girls).
Because God forbid women look around at the options available and DON’T choose the creepy guy who wants to give her back rubs. I like THAT, not THAT.” (And if you think women don’t get hostile reactions to simple acts of choosing, then you need to read the experiences of women at Comic Cons.) Women making choices like this (even if it’s for an object of fantasy like Valentino or Elvis) brings up envy, rage in the men watching, and so, if they have a platform where they can write, go after the fantasies of women in a way that they would never go after similar male fantasies.
They tear down the sex symbol as hard as they can, glorying in the smashing, not because they hate the sex symbol but because they hate that women have chosen someone so freely. Albert Goldman’s vicious biography of Elvis, which focuses on Elvis’ “burlesque” movements and how gross they were, is a perfect example.
Beautifully enough, a short film called Good Night, Valentino was made about this encounter. I especially love the shot of Valentino from below, walking down the hallway after his meeting with Mencken.
Written by John Rothman (love him), who also played Mencken in the film, it can be viewed in its entirety on IMDB. No surprise, by the way, that Elvis was a fan of Rudolph Valentino, and jumped at the chance to pay homage to the guy in the ridiculous and entertaining Harum Scarum. The whole essay is fascinating, both a portrait of Valentino, an examination of the shoddy business of celebrity “journalism” and how it operates from resentment, a thoughtful essay about the nature of fame, and then also, a baffled human feeling (“I just met the guy, and now he’s dead … ”) I love Mencken when he’s cranky, don’t get me wrong.