Two people sent me a link to stories about Naomi Wolf castigating singer Katy Perry for making a “shameless” piece of video “propaganda” celebrating the U.S. Marines. One sent me the link because he knows that, I went to school with Naomi. The other sent me the link because he knows that I like the Marines. Before I got to my opinion about this, both as someone who celebrates the Marines and who doesn’t celebrate Naomi, a little background about this story. Let’s start with Katy’s video:
Me, personally? I think it’s nice. Perry’s not a major talent by any means, but she’s a rock-solid pop singer. This is a catchy, generic pop song, presented as a genuinely respectful look at Marines and their training. It’s good for the Marines to have this out there. My only complaint is that Katy turns the Marines into the American version of the French Foreign Legion. (For those who find this reference obscure, the French Foreign Legion used to be known as a place for men who were either escaping from a shady past or a broken heart.) I hate to see the Marines painted as a sort of Lonely Hearts Club.
And now the Naomi Wolf interlude:
More specifically, Naomi said:
It’s a total piece of propaganda for the Marines . . . I really want to find out if she was paid by them for making it . . . it is truly shameful. I would suggest a boycott of this singer whom I really liked — if you are as offended at this glorification of violence as I am.
(As an aside, Naomi’s writing is execrable. She seems to have abandoned entirely the basic grammar we learned with such effort in high school. Our English teachers, who were quite good back in the day, would be horrified.)
Before I dive too deeply into this, you have to know that I’m not personally fond of Naomi. At school, she hung with the “artsy intellectual” crowd and made a point of letting people know that she functioned on a higher intellectual plane than they did. I’ve since learned, from her own writing in fact, that she was a deeply unhappy young woman. With hindsight, I realize that, typically for an unhappy person, she was trying to make herself feel better by spreading her unhappiness around. I can now view her with some degree of compassion, but it doesn’t make me like her any better.
Okay, that was my full disclosure. Back to more substantive issues.
Naomi’s statement about Katy Perry’s video shows that you can be the smartest person in the room (and Naomi is undoubtedly intelligent on the IQ scale) and still be stupid. Katy Perry is a private citizen and is free to make any type of video she wants, including one that praises the U.S. Marines. There’s no doubt that the Marines supported Perry’s effort — they did, after all, give her access to Camp Pendleton and forty of the women who live and train there — but there’s no indication whatsoever that they paid for Perry’s services. Absent that proof, to call a private citizen’s homage to the United States Marine’s a piece of “shameless” “propaganda” is just embittered foolishness.
Wolf’s manifest hostility to the Marines (a hostility that exists despite her later attempts to say that she really admires them for being pathetic cannon fodder) demonstrates how divorced Naomi is from reality. Naomi enjoys her fame, wealth, and free speech platform because of Marines, men and women both, who are willing to do the dirty work.
In war after war, the United States Marines have willingly, and at great cost, protected America’s national security. Without the Marines, we might be living in a world with a powerful Bushido Japan controlling the Pacific. Alternatively, Japan’s control over the Pacific might have been displaced by the Chinese Communists who would have overrun the Pacific Rim in the 1950s and 1960s. Today, by engaging the Islamists in Afghanistan and Iraq, the Marines (and, of course, America’s other military forces) have kept the battle on the battlefield and away from the home front.
For Naomi to pitch a hissy-fit because an American pop singer lauds an America institution (one that pre-dates America itself) is just so . . . Naomi: arrogant, foolish, and deeply unhappy, with the kind of unhappiness that just has to spread itself around.
(As another aside, I find it amusing that Perry did this video, because I seem to recall that her soon-to-be ex-husband Russell Brand was famed for spouting anti-American nonsense. To the extent that this is a highly patriotic video, I wonder if it isn’t meant as a slap at him.)