Of course, that’s pretty uncharitable. So can anyone explain some of what Sontag contributed, or how her work has helped you in some way, a specific work of hers to read, etc?
If there’s one feminist author who really doesn’t deserve the usual “feminists bad!” treatment that some corners of the internet default to, it’s Sontag.
I, too, before reading her encountered her as a reference more than a primary source and had a vague idea that she was some untouchable academic, but On Photography is one of the great works of art theory in the vein of Walter Benjamin's "The Work of Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction".
I did read the Slate article, and I didn’t get much out of it beyond a claim that Sontag, via her writings or just her status as a public figure, represented and argued for a serious approach to thinking about culture. But this conclusion seemed oddly tacked on to the end of the article.
Maybe she has good works, those aren't.
This to me is akin to asking that common pedestrian plaint about art, "Why is a Mark Rothko painting important? Look at it! I could make that!"
Outstanding cultural figures are not such because of some specific tangible yield of the _contributory artifacts_ that they leave behind. But rather because of the dynamic/conversational/interactive _relationship_ that they had with the culture _at the time_.
Intellectualism seemed much more part of popular culture in her time (60s-70s) than it is today and Sontag was squarely part of that era and the cultural dialogue. It is more interesting to ask the forensic question as to why her essays and speech were as impactful as they were; not "please justify why she deserves to be recognized as influential" ... she just _was_.