G.L.Piggy [at] gmail.com
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I’m sure you guys will be able to add to this. I’m thinking the over-sexualization of really, really old women. In particular, I have Cloris Leachman and Betty White in mind. Joan Rivers might qualify as well. If you have any other examples feel free to add.
I overheard a TV show on some channel with heavily gay imagery in which Cloris Leachman was involved in some sort of jokey game show spoof in which her co-guest was supposed to randomly choose a male Hollywood celebrity and guess whether or not Leachman would have sex with him. The male co-guest (who was gay; I’m not sure if that matters) guessed that Leachman would have sex with all of the guys on the list. For her part, Leachman wasn’t familiar with a few of the candidates. She said she’d have sex with a few of them – and, of course, Obama but not Romney.
It all struck me as odd and forced. If someone like Leachman is supposed to be “something”, in Hollywood terms, why is she reduced to her sexuality? Why do we pretend that someone like Betty White is actually horny all the time? I do take slight pause here though. My grandmother had what I’ll go ahead and call a crush on the golfer Greg Norman. We sometimes see this behavior in old women. It is labeled “weird” and such, though it is considered almost endearing whereas any halfway sexual remark made by an old man is considered the height of creepiness. I don’t really care to explore that particular double-standard, just to acknowledge that it exists.
Anyway, as we see in some of the clips below, Leachman is playing almost like the gawking, teenage nerd who might sometimes venture into harmless exhibitionism. There is the hope that someone might dump a pity fuck on them – all of this is an acknowledgement that there is unmet demand. But, again, I have a hard time believing that old women (despite my grandmother’s crush on Norman) think like this at all. They certainly aren’t at the same level as the group which they’re intended to mirror (pimply teenage boys).
I’ll toss out a loose connection which I do think is at play here and let commenters run with it if they like. There has to be a connection between this sexualization of old women and camp, the genre. I don’t buy into the whole Gay Mafia thing, nor do I typically buy into conspiracies. Just that over-sexualized old women are kind of a sanitized female sexuality. That, and it can be openly mocked while also not being too mean about it.