COWEN: Fast-forward back to the present. Who
would be a musical artist today — I know you’ve written Taylor Swift is a pestilence,
so it’s probably not her. [laughter]
PAGLIA: Taylor Swift is like a nightmare. COWEN: Who would be the musical artist today
who stands up to the giants of the past? PAGLIA: Stands up working today?
COWEN: Working today or close to today. The last 10 years.
PAGLIA: I was really very hopeful about Rihanna for a while there. Unfortunately, she’s
not really working with the top producers any longer. The new album is an atrocity.
It’s really terrible. It’s sad, because there are so many people with talents who
are not being developed. It’s because our music industry is now very
formulaic. Young people can’t really move along studying their instruments and getting
their chops over a period of time. There’s nothing to draw on in the way that the musicians
of my generation could draw on the folk tradition, the folk music.
COWEN: You’re sounding like a cultural conservative. [laughs]
PAGLIA: I’m just saying there’s certain moments, certain magic moments, of fertility
or creativity that happened in many of the arts. You can find certain key moments where
there’s a confluence of influences and a certain richness. In that very moment, it’s
a great time to be alive, to be young. For example, Shakespeare would not be Shakespeare
if he were alive today. As it happens, he left Stratford — for whatever reason — went
to London at a magic moment when theater was flourishing, which was only for a few decades,
and then it was out again. There’s a certain kind of luck. If you’re the right person
at the right time in any one of the artistic genres.
COWEN: Kanye West? Every album is different. He draws upon a lot of sources from the past.
PAGLIA: Oh my God. The bloat. COWEN: Inspired by rap, rhythm and blues,
no? PAGLIA: What can I say?