OFF THE GRID

Mackenzie Phillips Scores

Sep 25, 09 | 7:17 AM   byMichael Wolff
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Okay, let’s not shy away from it: Mackenzie Phillips, and whether she did or did not sleep with her father, is the big news.

As it happens, whenever we follow an incest story at Newser it becomes the biggest story. The Phillips story is even bigger because it’s not just an incest story but also a disputed incest story. And because there are famous (well, sort of famous) people involved. Incest stories involving complete unknowns are big. With a famous parent-child ménage, you’re off the charts.

So what’s the attraction here?

It seems unlikely that incest is a hidden American passion, although I could be wrong about that. On the other hand there is, I think it's fair to assume, a voyeuristic interest in lots of forms of kinkiness in this country. (Actually, there is a great interest in voyeurism.)

And there is an interest in drug addiction, or stories about drug addicts, which both Mackenzie and her father surely were. Mackenzie’s stepmother, Michelle Phillips, who disputes Mackenzie’s account of a 10-year affair with her father and the desecration of his pop memory, points out that Mackenzie has had a needle stuck in her arm for the past 35 years. While that might make Mackenzie’s story a little suspect, the history of drug-related memoirs, even with the dubious provenances, indicates that the did-it/didn’t-it-happen factor doesn’t make them less interesting. People eat this Potemkin-village stuff up.


(Getty Images)

There is, too, the issue of, well, right and wrong, which broadly involves many sociological and gender-related factors and which people really get their teeth into. It is rape? Or is it, as Mackenzie suggests, “Stockholm Syndrome,” which is among today’s most favorite syndromes, or is it, actually, consensual sex? And is consensual sex, when it involves drug addicts and rock and roll stars, somethin less than consensual?

There are other issues which are rock-and-roll related. For instance: Can your daughter also be your groupie? And then what about Mick Jagger, who Mackenzie told Oprah she had sex with as a teen? Her father left the room, Mick locked the door and said, I’ve been waiting for this since you were 10. Hmmmm. One might hope that somewhere, for the sake of history, Mick has made a record of everyone he has ever slept with.

I’m sure there is a point here about reality shows and about gross things happening to real (and gross) people. That probably has class implications: These gross things, which we find so compelling, happen to low class people, which so many rock and rollers started out as.

Anyway, there’s just something about incest, which, according to Newser’s stats, we can’t get enough of.

More of Newser founder Michael Wolff's articles and commentary can be found at VanityFair.com, where he writes a regular column. He can be emailed at michael@newser.com. You can also follow him on Twitter: www.twitter.com/NewserColumns.
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OFF THE GRID is about why the news is the news. Here are the real motivations of both media and newsmakers. Here's the backstory. This is a look at the inner workings of desperate media, the inner life of the publicity crazed, and the true meaning of the news of the day.

 

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