Girls are in the news. Girls are always in the news, one way or another. But on this day the news has brought strange juxtapositions. Perhaps this is merely the choppy wake of the great ship Oscar, still visible on the horizon, heading out to sea, slapping against the piers of day to day life.
The first bit of girls news involved a television commercial for sneakers. Shoes are an endless fascination for women for all sorts of reasons. Sketchers is pitching a new product called “Daddy’s Money.” It’s a high top sneaker with a built in, hidden, wedge heel. There is a lot more than a heel built into the ads. Both the product and its ads are so noisy, disquieting, and evil I will simply link to the shit-storm and move on.
Next came a thoughtful post at The New Yorker considering the animosity towards Anne Hathaway- an actor whose first hit was The Devil Wears Prada – which seems to have reached some sort of apex during and immediately after the Oscars.
Hathaway is described as having,
“an expression of high-wattage joy that reminds me of none other than a nine-year-old girl about to dig into a big slice of birthday cake. There’s generally only a small window of time when girls have that mien of utter at-homeness in the world—it gets snuffed out in many of them by age twelve or thirteen, when their glance turns inward, scrutinizing. Anne has somehow managed to retain that bright look, and many people would like to wipe it off her face.”
I started thinking about how its author, Sasha Weiss, looks a bit like her subject, Anne Hathaway. Is she defending something that reminds her of herself–not just the looks but the exuberance? This issue of projection always seems like the least examined impulse in society and our own lives. These days I am working on a biography of a tall, sardonic, writer who grew up in Manhattan, was thrown out of high school, would sometimes go “haywire,” and later published a novel about a kid who sounded like himself. It’s so thrilling to see yourself in another, including, and perhaps especially, in literature. But it can be so vexing, even infuriating, too, as the parent of any misbehaving child can tell you, to see a kid go off the rails for reasons that one can only attribute to yourself.
The Hathaway piece finds its way to childhood, by way of a segue into a fascinating passage from the well regarded new novel, “My Struggle,” by Norweigian author Karl Ove Knausgaard. A father takes his young daughter to a party and watches her try and figure out how to break into the group. She is wearing golden shoes.
For a while she stood observing them. Then it was as if she had decided to take the plunge.
“I’ve got golden shoes!” she said.
She bent forward and took off one shoe, held it up in the air in case anyone wanted to see. But no one did. When she realized that, she put it back on.
It’s a heart breaker. The whole piece is worth reading.
I wonder how things would have gone if, instead of lovely home made golden shoes, the girl in “My Struggle” had held aloft a high top sneaker and declared, “I’ve got Daddy’s Money!”
And if this shoe had produced the desired attention and feeling of inclusion, would it have been worth it?