Bill says "No onion rings?" and Hillary responds "I'm looking out for ya." Now, the script says onion rings, because that's what the Sopranos were eating in that final scene, but I doubt if any blogger will disagree with my assertion that, coming from Bill Clinton, the "O" of an onion ring is a vagina symbol. Hillary says no to that, driving the symbolism home. She's "looking out" all right, vigilant over her husband, denying him the sustenance he craves. What does she have for him? Carrot sticks! The one closest to the camera has a rather disgusting greasy sheen to it. Here, Bill, in retaliation for all of your excessive "O" consumption, you may have a large bowl of phallic symbols! When we hear him say "No onion rings?," the camera is on her, and Bill is off-screen, but at the bottom of the screen we see the carrot/phallus he's holding toward her. Oh, yes, I know that Hillary supplying carrots is supposed to remind that Hillary will provide us with health care, that she's "looking out for" us, but come on, they're carrots! Everyone knows carrots are phallic symbols. But they're cut up into little carrot sticks, you say? Just listen to yourself! I'm not going to point out everything.
She later claims to be joking about something or other, but that's beside the point. (Which, I'll add, has been hashed out by others.) That she believes the above a "little casual Freudian interpretation" speaks to the vacuousness of a certain mode of psychoanalytic thinking. To wit:
If so, aren't you the good little voter, accepting the message Senator Clinton hoped to insert in your receptacle of a brain? The famously controlled former First Lady is pleased there are people like you. Me, I'm not so obedient. Even though I voted for Bill Clinton in 1992 and 1996 and may very well vote for Hillary, I don't accept these things at face value. What's more I love a ripe opportunity for interpretation, including comic interpretation with sexual, Freudian content. What are you going to say: "sometimes a cigar is just a cigar"? You simply cannot say that when Bill Clinton is in the picture. In the whole history of the world, if there is one person for whom a cigar was not just a cigar, it's Bill Clinton ... Here the context was Bill Clinton and the wife he has notoriously cheated on for years. He's saying he wants onion rings, and she's imposing carrots on him. That cries out for psycho-sexual interpretation. It's not the intent of the film's auteurâunless he's a traitor to Clinton but it's imagery that they should have noticed as they were writing the script.
She honestly believes herself engaged in some sort of "psycho-sexual interpretation" here. As someone purported to be a scholar of some sort, she should know better than to pander in the anything-longer-than-it-is-wide mode of psychoanalytic criticism. Properly speaking, it's less a mode of psychoanalytic thought than the punchline to a self-parodic Woody Allen joke from 1965. For Althouse, however, this qualifies as insight, the sort of thing paid professionals should consider before scripting a commercial. Why harp on Althouse for trafficking in vapidities?
Because when people who don't read blogs hear her name, they think "academic blogger." That she embodies the most perfidious blogging stereotypes makes it difficult for actual academic bloggers to bring some small quotient of respectability to the medium; a blog defined by its author's rampant narcissism does no justice to the genre. That she does posts and comments at all hours of the day, seemingly in lieu of actual academic work, perpetuates the notion that blogging's the second most masturbatory means of procrastination.
For example, she comments, frequently within minutes, on almost every single post anyone writes about her. Her comments typically consist of little more than something about a vortex, then she disappears. Or seems to. When I checked my logs the day linked above, she continued to refresh that page three or four times an hour for a few hours, then again for a few hours the next day.* She never left another comment, however, because communication was not her motivation.
She wants to know what people are saying about her. That's what this is about. Her. The hours she must spend scanning her site statistics? Her. The reloading of Technorati on the hour, every hour, in case she missed someone saying something about her? Her. The neologisms she coins to describe how people respond to her? Her. (Ironically, this post isn't about her. People like her, yes, but not her.) Little she writes concerns content, academic or otherwise. Her posts are the written equivalent, grossly exaggerated, of a venerable summer tradition: the tourist photo. For reference, this is a peer-reviewed, academic article:
The statue of liberty is clearly the subject. Now, here's a typical academic blog:
Blogger and subject are equally framed. Personal, but not too personal. Now, here's Althouse:
Is the Statue of Liberty even behind her? Doesn't matter. What matters is that she's in the picture. Content? Who needs content? Althouse cares less what people say, so long as they say it about her, which is why she writes solely to drawn attention to herself:
See that phrase "I doubt if any blogger will disagree with my assertion"? That's an awfully cheap trick, a way to prod bloggers to write about the post.
In the comments to one of the above posts, she writes of her desire to "own onion rings." Why? Because she must own onion rings. When people associate such sentiments with academic blogging, she does those of us who care about content a disservice. So here I am, being swallowed by her beloved vortex—or am I? She would insist I was, but that goes without saying. I couldn't be detached and impersonal, using her as an example of a particular type of pseudo-academic blogger. Because then this post wouldn't be a personal attack on her, which it isn't. Her inflated self-importance may be exemplary, but it's by no means atypical.
As much as the blogger-as-narcissist stereotype she perpetuates bothers me, in the end it is the emptiness of her claims (and her labeling of them "interpretation") which bothers me more. Any photograph of Bill Clinton warrants an examination of its "psycho-sexual" content. What would her Freudian caricature make of, say, this photograph:
Or this one:
Or this one:
Or, God forbid, this one: