Listener, June 8, 2002
“Elizabeth Bennett is the most shag-able of Jane Austen’s heroines.”
This evocative statement was blurted by media chic poet Kate Camp, currently writer-in-residence at Waikato University, on Kim Hill’s Saturday morning show on National Radio. She was reviewing Austen’s 1813 novel Pride and Prejudice, which to her was “like eating a box of chocolates . . . just pure unadulterated pleasure.”
Okay, I’ve taken Camp’s language a little out of context. The opening sentence was at the end of bigger picture, but radio is like that, you catch sound bites and Camp’s very good at leaving her mark. She actually started illustrating her point by quoting from Martin Amis’s essay on the book which read: “Mr Darcy is every woman’s fantasy man and Elizabeth Bennett is every man’s fantasy woman.”
“It Amis’s quote redeemed my faith in male human nature . . .” Camp says. “I would have thought Elizabeth Bennett was rather too sharp and teasing to be the ideal woman, but I did an unscientific survey among some of my male colleagues and I did conclude that Elizabeth Bennett is the most shag-able . . .”
A lot of us haven’t read Pride and Prejudice, but, as Camp says, many would have seen the tele mini series a few years back. But then again there’s a lot of us who are being educated in a totally different way.
My partner’s 12-year-old daughter, an avid Edge listener, astonished me a while back by saying the station held a competition that offered around a grand to a brother and sister willing to “tongue-kiss” for two minutes, and evidently the dosh was pocketed by a couple of pashing siblings.
Gobsmacked? I was; not because of the mock incest dare, but because this is the fare our kids are listening to. Is it harmless nonsense? “They The Edge announcers are funny and they play good music,” our 12-year-old says. What do you think of National Radio? I asked – long pause – “I’d rather eat grass,” she clipped.
I guess it’s a matter of taste. Recently I sampled a couple of hours of The Edge’s Morning Madhouse team, which comprises the sultry in-ya-face J J and a couple of daggish (think sheep bums) blokes – Dom and Jace. When I tuned in they were interviewing American singer/songwriter Vanessa Carlton, who was holed up somewhere in Holland.
After a little banter about pianos and whether or not she’s smoked grass, there was some talk of a Rolling Stone cover Carlton recorded and Jace (or was it Dom?) warned her that “Mick Jagger is about 70 years old and when he meets you he will sleaze all over you.” Then some music by Creed, which I liked and another interview, with the likeable Bic Runga. All rather nice until Dom (or was it Jace?) blurted that Bic’s sister Bo had admitted on show that “before she got engaged she had a threesome”. And Bic says she thinks her mum’s listening.
JJ chimes after the 9 o’clock news: “Satisfaction: The Art of the Female Orgasm, a brand new book written by Sex and the City’s Kim Cattrall and her husband . . . I believe it comes in a sealed cover!” The upshot is three young women – announced as “Erotic Emma”, “Penthouse Pet Evette” and “Man-Pleasing Marg” – give a rendition of their best “fake orgasms”. Imagine it if you can. Judge “Grubby Gareth” crowns “Penthouse Pet Evette” the “Queen of Faking It” and she is to be sent a copy The Art of the Female Orgasm. I kid you not.
I don’t think Pride and Prejudice would have been appropriate. Unless Kate Camp got a gig on The Edge.