You young people don’t realize that as late as the 1970s, millions of people couldn’t bring themselves to say the word “cancer” out loud, let alone “breast.”
It was a very big deal when Betty Ford matter of factly announced that she had breast cancer, and urged other women to get tested.
And in those days as well, decades after the founding of AA, alcoholics were still considered mostly skid row bums.
So when she announced her alcoholism in the same manner, another word got a public makeover.
Both times the results were the same: people were inspired to get help, look after themselves and add years to their lives.
“Transgressive” “progressive” artists like to boast of their own “bravery,” and their efforts to “change the world.”
Yet this (albeit liberal) Republican middle aged woman, who carried the easily-mockable title “First Lady,” and wore conservative outfits and had an “uptight” looking hairdo, inarguably saved millions of lives.
Alas, her unfortunate legacy is the avalanche of jerks who’ve subsequently turned “raising awareness” into the combination money grab/guilt trip/ineffectual empty gesture it is today.
And while it seems to be tapering off, we’ve lived through the unedifying spectacle of celebrity after celebrity ostentatiously “going into treatment” — then “going back out” in spectacular, disastrous fashion.
Some also question whether or not the “disease model” of addiction, which Ford mainstreamed, is scientifically sound and/or to blame for society’s swing towards personal irresponsibility.
But unlike the many often fatal “unintended consequences” of so many leftwing projects and causes, blame for these developments can’t be laid at Ford’s feet, any more than we can blame Bo Diddley for Justin Bieber.
Because unlike so many liberal pioneers, Ford didn’t embellish her situation, invent statistics or accumulate vast wealth for herself while promoting her causes.
Yesterday I watched a new music video by Amanda Lapore, “New York’s most famous transsexual.” Lapore styles herself on — you’ll never guess — Marylin Monroe. Black and white and pseudo-gritty, the video looked like something Andy Warhol made with Candy Darling forty years ago, co-staring some Factory studs/hangers-on. (By coincidence, my husband is playing The Kink’s “Lola” in the next room as I type this. That song was released in 1970.)
Amanda Lapore is what passes for taboo-shattering courage in the middle of the year 2011.
We are so sad, and so screwed.