|Oh, what he would have made of Heather!|
With the exception of Angelo Persichilli, they really don't offer much that justifies the time, no matter how brief. Although I have to confess a rather perverse interest in reading Heather Mallick on occasion. Not because she's interesting or clever or insightful. I don't find her to be any of those things. But reading her column is like playing a game of sexual "Where's Waldo?"
No matter how inappropriate, no matter how irrelevant, she always, always, seems to find some way of sexualizing her subject. And not pleasant sex, but violent, coercive sex. It's like Mallick's devoted her life's work to proving Sigmund Freud right. And to my shame, every so often, I'll read her column to see where her psycho-sexual obsession will pop up.
It's been some time since I played that game. It became too easy, as if Waldo was standing right in the front of the picture, arms akimbo. But I decided to go try it again with Mallick's last two columns to see if she's outgrown her old habit, or perhaps found some apparently needed help.
Last Friday, she wrote a predictable (for her) condemnation of British PM David Cameron's sensible observations about the failure of multiculturalism. I made it through most of the column without encountering a bizarre sexual metaphor and thought, "This could be it! Mallick, albeit late, has begun a new chapter in her life!"
No such luck. The last third of her column invokes, for reasons unknown to anyone but Heather Mallick, a non-sequitur mention of a scene from the TV show The Sopranos, where a stripper is beaten to death.
That was just one sentence in an otherwise routine column. I figured it'd be worth a look at her next Star column to see if maybe, just maybe, there was at least movement in the right direction.
Her next column was about Amy Chua's memoir, Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother. Chua, who is an accomplished lawyer, academic and author, wrote about using draconian child-rearing techniques to produce highly successful children. One may agree or disagree about whether Chua's ideas are ultimately beneficial.
But Mallick, in her disdain for Chua, applies criticism through her signature, and seemingly only literary device; weird sexual projection. This time involving Chua's then-14 year old daughter:
Chua is hopeless about sex and cannot see that the photo of Sophia playing at Carnegie Hall shows a 14-year-old wearing a charcoal strapless gown, her legs fanned, her arms arched in a purely erotic pose. When a vicious piano teacher in Budapest (Elfriede Jelinek won a Nobel Prize for writing about women like this) whips Lulu’s playing fingers with a pencil and Chua backs the teacher, you wonder what Chua would have done if the teacher had fondled the child’s breasts. Tell Lulu to pull herself together and shut up?
I know who I'd like to tell to pull herself together and shut up.
Maybe that's not fair. Heather needs to express her feelings. Whether they would be more appropriately addressed to a psychiatrist than the Toronto Star's readers is another question.