Treasure Island

gershon hepner

(5 3 38 / leipzig)

prejudice, paranoia and narcissism


PREJUDICE, PARANOIA AND NARCISSIM


If paranoia can be rationalized
by means of prejudice, if follows narc-
issism has to be an idealized
agenda for a person who's an arse.

Rachel Shukert ("Greased, Frightening, " Tablet,5/11/12) writes about John Travolta:

Well, folks, it's been a big week in gay news. On the good side, President Barack Obama came out in support of same-sex marriage and Anjelica Huston sang on Smash. On the other, the press has been all abuzz over the lawsuit recently slapped on John Travolta by a masseur claiming the star attempted to coerce him into unwanted sexual acts during a session at the Beverly Hills Hotel. Two steps forward, one step back. That's progress, I guess.

Of all the tabloid press coverage on Massage-gate, there are two details that, er, popped up at me. One is the employment of positively J.K. Rowling-esque adjectives regarding the area in question: "solid eight inches … springy" making it sound like Hollywood's second-most famous Scientologist purchased his, ahem, wand straight from Mr. Ollivander's. (It chooses the wizard, you know.) The second is the still-unnamed masseur's assertion of how Travolta explained how he learned to Stop Worrying and Love Transactional Same-Sex Liaisons: By accepting that Hollywood is controlled by "homosexual Jewish men" who expect sexual favors in return for career-related ones….
But back to Travolta: Seen through this lens, it makes perfect sense why the Staying Alive star might articulate what he did the way he (allegedly) did: He posits a homosexual conspiracy to try to convince himself that he's not one (manipulated, sure, but that's what they do) and then tacks on the Jewish part to prove how it's extra sneaky—and impossible to resist.

And yet, I can't help feeling sorry for him in a way I never do for the Gibsons and Gallianos and Rick Sanchezes of the world. If true, it makes for a pretty sad picture to think of one of the biggest, most universally loved movie stars on the planet lying all alone in a hotel suite (and given his well-documented weight fluctuations, the empty chocolate cake wrappers lying on the floor make a particularly poignant touch—I mean, who hasn't been there?) lunging at a masseur's white-jeaned crotch (yes, in my head, he's wearing white jeans) and then blaming a David Geffen-led cabal for his actions when he gets shut down. If every prejudice is the rationalization of paranoia, paranoia is the rationalization of insecurity, and as the prophet(ess) RuPaul (for whom I definitely intend to leave out a custom Absolut vodka cocktail at my next Seder) likes to say: If you can't love yourself, how the hell you gonna love somebody else? Internalized homophobia and internalized anti-Semitism are just two sides of the same highly polished and wisely invested coin.
With a single (for the third time, alleged) prejudicial statement, John Travolta has neatly subverted the old maxim about paranoia, and in doing so, the essential emptiness behind prejudice itself. It's not that they aren't out to get you. It's just that "they" is usually "you."

Marc (Tracy?) adds that the fact that Travolta belongs to the conspiratorial Church of Scientology may be relevant:
So the nuts maybe don't fall so far from the tree?

5/11/12 #10169

Submitted: Friday, May 11, 2012

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