FacebookTwitterRedditEmail

The Tits Make the Activist

 

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

More articles by:

Michael Colby is the president of Regeneration Vermont, a nonprofit that documents the threats of industrial agriculture while promoting regenerative alternatives. He is also a campaign consultant to the Organic Consumers Association.

Weekend Edition
March 22, 2019
Friday - Sunday
Henry Giroux
The Ghost of Fascism in the Post-Truth Era
Gabriel Rockhill
Spectacular Violence as a Weapon of War Against the Yellow Vests
H. Bruce Franklin
Trump vs. McCain: an American Horror Story
Paul Street
A Pox on the Houses of Trump and McCain, Huxleyan Media, and the Myth of “The Vietnam War”
Andrew Levine
Why Not Impeach?
Bruce E. Levine
Right-Wing Psychiatry, Love-Me Liberals and the Anti-Authoritarian Left
Jeffrey St. Clair
Roaming Charges: Darn That (American) Dream
Charles Pierson
Rick Perry, the Saudis and a Dangerous Nuclear Deal
Moshe Adler
American Workers Should Want to Transfer Technology to China
David Rosen
Trafficking or Commercial Sex? What Recent Exposés Reveal
Nick Pemberton
The Real Parallels Between Donald Trump and George Orwell
Binoy Kampmark
Reading Manifestos: Restricting Brenton Tarrant’s The Great Replacement
Brian Cloughley
NATO’s Expensive Anniversaries
Ron Jacobs
Donald Cox: Tale of a Panther
Joseph Grosso
New York’s Hudson Yards: The Revanchist City Lives On
REZA FIYOUZAT
Is It Really So Shocking?
Bob Lord
There’s Plenty of Wealth to Go Around, But It Doesn’t
John W. Whitehead
The Growing Epidemic of Cops Shooting Family Dogs
Jeff Cohen
Let’s Not Restore or Mythologize Obama 
Christy Rodgers
Achieving Escape Velocity
Monika Zgustova
The Masculinity of the Future
Jessicah Pierre
The Real College Admissions Scandal
Peter Mayo
US Higher Education Influence Takes a Different Turn
Martha Rosenberg
New Study Confirms That Eggs are a Stroke in a Shell
Ted Rall
The Greatest Projects I Never Mad
George Wuerthner
Saving the Big Wild: Why Aren’t More Conservationists Supporting NREPA?
Norman Solomon
Reinventing Beto: How a GOP Accessory Became a Top Democratic Contender for President
Ralph Nader
Greedy Boeing’s Avoidable Design and Software Time Bombs
Tracey L. Rogers
White Supremacy is a Global Threat
Nyla Ali Khan
Intersectionalities of Gender and Politics in Indian-Administered Kashmir
Karen J. Greenberg
Citizenship in the Age of Trump: Death by a Thousand Cuts
Jill Richardson
Getting It Right on What Stuff Costs
Matthew Stevenson
Pacific Odyssey: Puddle Jumping in New Britain
Matt Johnson
The Rich Are No Smarter Than You
Julian Vigo
College Scams and the Ills of Capitalist-Driven Education
Brian Wakamo
It’s March Madness, Unionize the NCAA!
Beth Porter
Paper Receipts Could be the Next Plastic Straws
Christopher Brauchli
Eric the Heartbroken
Louis Proyect
Rebuilding a Revolutionary Left in the USA
Sarah Piepenburg
Small Businesses Like Mine Need Paid Family and Medical Leave
Robert Koehler
Putting Our Better Angels to Work
Peter A. Coclanis
The Gray Lady is Increasingly Tone-Deaf
David Yearsley
Bach-A-Doodle-Doo
Elliot Sperber
Aunt Anna’s Antenna
March 21, 2019
Daniel Warner
And Now Algeria
FacebookTwitterRedditEmail