…y luego vinieron a buscar Geraldo…

I speculated yesterday whether Geraldo would fall to the current sexual inquisition for his defense of Matt Lauer, and today Bette Midler, at least, says he should, for an act that was “unseemly” in 1991 (relating a story from the Seventies) and is now a hanging offense.

But most notable is Midler’s referencing the Lauer defense. This is what he’s being punished for; the transgression is cashed in like a chip in the Narrative casino.

I find it difficult to dislike Bette Midler even when she tries. But watching this one has to be struck by the decline in the quality of female celebrities. Even Barbra Walters comes across better than I remember. What happened to genuinely tough (and funny) broads? That’s when women were women.

Older boomers who were adults in the Seventies are compromised as a class by this sudden sexual inquisition. Geraldo wrote a whole book boasting of his sexual escapades. So many out there remain vulnerable, the white ones already undergoing a sort of racial inquisition, with which this one blends seamlessly. The treadmill of white celebrity must be a harrowing experience at the moment. The New Cruelty isn’t impressed.

Midler’s cavalier attitude about Geraldo’s act at the time–and, if true, it is disgraceful–and her bringing it up now reminds me of an earlier celebrity revelation’s journey. MacKenzie Phillips, daughter of Michelle Phillips of sixties folk rock act The Mamas and the Papas, who was in a Seventies sitcom before becoming known as a troubled ex-celebrity and, she asserts, incest survivor, told a story on Howard Stern’s radio program in the Nineties (I heard it; can’t find it) about how, on her eighteenth birthday, she was maneuvered into a room by Mick Jagger, who closed the door behind him and said “I’ve been waiting for this for years.”

She went on to say they spent the night together and it was “pretty terrific.” Her attitude was casual and humorous, someone in recovery boasting of an escapade on the path of excess.

Fast forward to years later and Phillips is promoting her book. I see a clip of her on Oprah. She’s wiping tears away and saying “…and then he said ‘I’ve been waiting for this for years’…”

They’ll never get as far as Mick Jagger though.

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