The Tits Make the Activist

by Michael Colby

 

I started to count the number of references to Erin Brockovich1s breasts in Austin Bunn’s biographical essay on her work in the New York Times1 Sunday Magazine (“Erin Brockovich, The Brand,” April 28, 2002). Unfortunately, I got distracted and lost count after about a dozen. Brockovich, of course, is the paralegal who helped fight Pacific Power & Gas (PG&E) in the late 1990s and was immortalized by the movie that bears her name and starred the chirpy Julia Roberts.

But if you picked up the article to learn about Brockovich’s methodology and activist philosophy, you were shit out of luck. This was about tits. And Brockovich was all-too-willing to play along. How many activists, for example, would take a journalist on a clothes-shopping spree while being followed for a feature story? Brockovich, for one. In fact, the shopping spree come about after a trip to a bar for a “cranberry and vodka” (their first stop) and well before they got around to visiting “victims.”

The smitten Bunn, even donning a name fit for the piece, couldn’t keep his mind of Brockovich’s breasts, bellybutton, and waistline long enough to provide much else about her life. Brockovich, after finding wealth and fame from her successful case against PG&E, is apparently still out there fighting the “bad guys,” but Bunn could care a less about such trivial matters.

Here’s Bunn’s third paragraph of his essay, describing their trip to the clothing store:

“When she glides in, nearly an hour late, she heads immediately to the dressing room. She throws on a pair of blatantly age-inappropriate, low-slung denim pants and models them in the mirror. For most, this would be a private moment, but not for Brockovich. She pulls up her shirt and suspiciously eyes her miraculous waistline. She wants to know if the jeans reveal too much skin. ‘I don’t like my bellybutton showing,’ she says. ‘I really don’t.’ She looks magnificent in everything here, which makes choosing hard. ‘When I have vodkas-and-cranberries, I come home with all kinds of stuff,’ she says, twisting her hair into curlers that have been warmed for her. ‘I tell my husband, ‘Don’t let me shop when I’ve been drinking.'”

But then Bunn lets it all hang out when he springs this bit of verbiage on his readers: “We’re used to our crusaders rejecting style and sexuality for high seriousness, as if they were mutually exclusive. But Brockovich demands to be taken seriously with her Armani suits and her breast implants (and in some cases, yes, her bellybutton showing).”

Brockovich, of course, loves it. She even jumps at the chance to describe herself as “Ralph Nader with cleavage.”

Welcome to the world of celebrity activists, where we’re all just a tit job away from victory.

Michael Colby is the editor of Wild Matters and welcomes comments at mcolby@wildmatters.org

Like What You’ve Read? Support CounterPunch
August 04, 2015
Vincent J. Roscigno
University Bureaucracy as Organized Crime
Paul Street
Bernie Sanders’ Top Five Race Problems: the Whiteness of Nominal Socialism
Herbert Dyer, Jr.
Is White Supremacy a Mental Disorder?
Ramzy Baroud
The Palestinian Bubble and the Burning of Toddler, Ali Dawabsha
Pepe Escobar
Reshuffling Eurasia’s Energy Deck — Iran, China and Pipelineistan
L. Michael Hager
The Battle Over BDS
Eric Draitser
Puerto Rico: Troubled Commonwealth or Debt Colony?
Colin Todhunter
Hypnotic Trance in Delhi: Monsanto, GMOs and the Looting of India’s Agriculture
Benjamin Willis
The New Cubanologos: What’s in a Word?
Matt Peppe
60 Minutes Provides Platform for US Military
Binoy Kampmark
The Turkish Mission: Reining in the Kurds
Eoin Higgins
Teaching Lessons of White Supremacy in Prime-Time: Blackrifice in the Post-Apocalyptic World of the CW’s The 100
Gary Corseri
Gaza: Our Child’s Shattered Face in the Mirror
Robert Dodge
The Nuclear World at 70
Paula Bach
Exit the Euro? Polemic with Greek Economist Costas Lapavitsas
August 03, 2015
Jack Dresser
The Case of Alison Weir: Two Palestinian Solidarity Organizations Borrow from Joe McCarthy’s Playbook
Joseph Mangano – Janette D. Sherman
The Atomic Era Turns 70, as Nuclear Hazards Endure
Nelson Valdes
An Internet Legend: the Pope, Fidel and the Black President
Robert Hunziker
The Perfectly Nasty Ocean Storm
Ahmad Moussa
Incinerating Palestinian Children
Greg Felton
Greece Succumbs to Imperialist Banksterism
Binoy Kampmark
Stalling the Trans-Pacific Partnership: the Failure of the Hawai’i Talks
Ted Rall
My Letter to Nick Goldberg of the LA Times
Mark Weisbrot
New Greek Bailout Increases the Possibility of Grexit
Jose Martinez
Black/Hispanic/Women: a Leadership Crisis
Victor Grossman
German Know-Nothings Today
Patrick Walker
We’re Not Sandernistas: Reinventing the Wheels of Bernie’s Bandwagon
Norman Pollack
Moral Consequences of War: America’s Hegemonic Thirst
Ralph Nader
Republicans Support Massive Tax Evasion by Starving IRS Budget
Alexander Reid Ross
Colonial Pride and the Killing of Cecil the Lion
Suhayb Ahmed
What’s Happening in Britain: Jeremy Corbyn and the Future of the Labour Party
Weekend Edition
July 31-33, 2015
Jeffrey St. Clair
Bernie and the Sandernistas: Into the Void
John Pilger
Julian Assange: the Untold Story of an Epic Struggle for Justice
Roberto J. González – David Price
Remaking the Human Terrain: The US Military’s Continuing Quest to Commandeer Culture
Lawrence Ware
Bernie Sanders’ Race Problem
Andrew Levine
The Logic of Illlogic: Narrow Self-Interest Keeps Israel’s “Existential Threats” Alive
ANDRE VLTCHEK
Kos, Bodrum, Desperate Refugees and a Dying Child
Paul Street
“That’s Politics”: the Sandernistas on the Master’s Schedule
Ted Rall
How the LAPD Conspired to Get Me Fired from the LA Times
Mike Whitney
Power-Mad Erdogan Launches War in Attempt to Become Turkey’s Supreme Leader
Ellen Brown
The Greek Coup: Liquidity as a Weapon of Coercion
Stephen Lendman
Russia Challenges America’s Orwellian NED
Will Parrish
The Politics of California’s Water System
John Wight
The Murder of Ali Saad Dawabsha, a Palestinian Infant Burned Alive by Israeli Terrorists
Jeffrey Blankfort
Leading Bibi’s Army in the War for Washington