Remembering a time when private lives were private -- was America better for it?
The social left is fond of hiding its agenda behind the mask of privacy. Private affairs between consenting adults, members of the left say, ought to stay private. That notion has undergirded everything from the gay rights movement to the normalization of premarital sex. There’s only one problem with the left’s application of this relatively uncontroversial perspective: the left doesn’t truly believe it. The left wants private activities to be public.
That willingness to make private matters public is the basis for both the same-sex marriage movement and the abortion movement. Same-sex marriage has nothing to do with privacy; it’s a public acknowledgment of private sexual behavior. Abortion, too, has nothing to do with privacy; it’s a legitimation of the murder of a third party, the unborn child.
But that’s the goal of the left.
To trace the left’s attempts to blur the line between public and private, all we must do is examine the Hollywood studio system’s treatment of stars with today’s tabloid treatment. Decades ago, the studios worked hard to keep stars’ private lives private. No one knew Rock Hudson was gay unless he told them, or until much later in his life. No one knew that Marilyn Monroe had an affair with JFK at the time; it was only much later that the press covered it.
These days, books are written about the private sex lives of stars, old and new. The Hollywood Reporter recently featured a massive expose on records from private detective Fred Otash, who revealed this about Rock Hudson:
On January 21, 1958, Rock Hudson's wife confronted him, demanding to know if he was gay and grilling the actor about a Rorschach test he had taken. "You told me you saw thousands of butterflies and also snakes," she said "[A therapist] told me in my analysis that butterflies mean femininity and snakes represent that male penis. I'm not condemning you, but it seems that as long as you recognize your problem, you would want to do something about it." She also complained about "your great speed with me, sexually. Are you that fast with boys?"
The same article talks about Otash’s records on Monroe’s death:
“I listened to Marilyn Monroe die,” he claims in the notes, without elaborating, adding that he had taped an angry confrontation among Bobby Kennedy, Lawford and Monroe just hours before her death: “She said she was passed around like a piece of meat. It was a violent argument about their relationship and the commitment and promises he made to her. She was really screaming and they were trying to quiet her down. She’s in the bedroom and Bobby gets the pillow and he muffles her on the bed to keep the neighbors from hearing. She finally quieted down and then he was looking to get out of there.”
So now we know. Is that better, or worse?
For the individual actors, the old system was undoubtedly better. Young stars and starlets are routinely ruined because of the public’s voracious appetite for gossip. Marilyn Monroe was reportedly wildly self-destructive – but imagine how self-destructive she would have been if her sex life had been on the front pages at the supermarket every week. She made it to age 36. Will Lindsey Lohan make it that far?
And for the country, it was undoubtedly better to have those they admired keeping their private lives private, too. It may be fun to read the headlines in the National Enquirer, but it is also desensitizing. Celebrities acting badly and making headlines doesn’t just affect celebrities. It affects the young people who follow them. Gossip magazines have existed since the inception of Hollywood. But the gossip used to be about favorite hairdos. Now it’s about sexual proclivities.
There’s something prurient about reading the personal lives of Rock Hudson and Marilyn Monroe in the pages of The Hollywood Reporter. But that’s the America the left created, seducing readers and viewers with juicy gossip. The broadranging impact of making the private public ranges far beyond movie tickets and gossip rags, though.
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