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I tried not to say anything about Barbie, but...
I had fun, not a political awakening.
Sorry for the break in posting on here. If you follow me on Instagram you’ll know I had a holiday with the family in Los Angeles. We caught up with dear friends. We ate decadently good pizza. We shopped. (More on that below.) We rode this insanely fun rollercoaster. Twice. And all the while we thoroughly enjoyed complaining about the scorching 38 degree heat.
This is what drove us to the cooling comfort of an air-conditioned cinema to watch Barbie on its release day. (In America, always try to go to the Alamo, best cinema experience on earth) I enjoyed it. It’s packed with some great gags, some cracking one-liners and the dream outfits I wanted for my Superstar Barbie, circa 1980.
One thing I’m mystified by is everyone’s emotional outpourings over what has already been dubbed reverentially as ‘that’ speech, by America Ferrera’s character, Gloria. You no doubt know it already, and even though it would immediately bump up my word count nicely today, I’m not going to parrot the whole thing here. Of course I nodded along silently and sighed the weary sigh of a 53-year-old woman who fears her 18 year-old daughter will probably still be sighing at this same shit when she is 53. What I don’t understand about all the air punching about this speech is this: Don’t we already know this? Was this seriously a revelatory moment for anyone? Isn’t this just a redelivery of exactly what Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie said in her 2012 iconic TED talk, We Should All Be Feminists?
I loved the Barbie film as an escapist, fun 90 minutes - every single actor is a genius stroke of casting. But let’s not pretend that alongside her global popularity, Barbie hasn’t always been problematic on many fronts. (Eight year old me was convinced that life would begin when my very own Barbie Boobs finally showed up on my chest. Still waiting.) The repurposing of her for this film into the feminist hero of our day is a bit off for me. Particularly when I see so much rage from various camps, about what it all means for feminism. And I’m not just talking about sad little incel men or ridiculous small-minded Republicans. My daughter and one of her friends fell out over it. Daughter was irked by what she sees as a very perfunctory take on feminism. She doesn’t like the ‘women in charge = perfect; men in charge = hell’ simplicity. Her friend gave her a lengthy lecture about her internalised misogyny. I mentioned this to a colleague the other day who’s had the same with the teen in her house. This rage, over a film about a piece of pneumatic plastic that has earned Mattel billions, is… disproportionate. There’s an irony for you.
Barbie is brilliant, kaleidoscopic fun. Can we stop pretending it’s anything deep?
Speaking of not deep, here are a few recommendations from me after spending time in LA, one of my favourite cities.
Frivolous retail fun. The Japanese department store specialises in that curious Japanese talent of providing products that you would never have dreamt you now urgently need. Like a mesh handbag organiser, or a resting stand for your chopsticks. Personally I’m now obsessed these sweets they sell:
If I wasn’t sweating buckets from an ill-advised 40-minute walk to the place (long story) and in desperate need of a pee, I would have stayed in here until I had examined every single one of the thousands of items on offer. It’s full of the cast-offs of rich LA people so therefore teeming with high end labels at incredible prices. I got this Zimmerman tunic for $100. If they’d had a toilet they’d have gotten way more money out of me. Something to think about Wasteland, I mean you are called Wasteland for crying out loud.
Holidays are for calories. Everyone knows that. If you haven’t been here then you have not had the world’s best pasta. In-fucking-sane. My favourite was the spicy fusillli with vodka tomato sauce and basil. It has ruined all other pasta for me. I didn’t see anyone famous in there but once, my friend Elizabeth saw Kim Kardashian and Pete Davidson in there. But to be honest, Madonna and Beyonce could have been dancing on the table next to me and I wouldn’t have noticed because:
So little time, so many pretty cakes. If someone comes at you with something called Monkey Bread, just go with it. Trust me.
Keith Haring’ s ‘Art is for Everybody’ at The Broad Museum
I can’t pretend to know much at all about art but I love everything about Keith Haring: his talent, what he stood for and the utterly delightful human being that he always seemed. This is a big show full of delights for the mind and when you’re done there are floors and floors of other great modern artists, like Jeff Koons, Warhol, Basquiat, Liechtenstein and oh so much more.
Oh boy, did this shop see me coming. Top of the list of #clothesmyhusbandhates is my long time love for all things Hawaiian print. Our LA bestie David shares my passion. Ross’s face might as well have slid right off his shoulders, so dismayed was he that he would now be spending at least an hour of his precious holiday in this place. I got a shirt, a cute dress and a sweet shorts co-ord, all for under $100.
Classic Americana with a cheeky twist of hippie surf culture. This shop is a divine mix of vintage and contemporary clothing, interiors and art and I adored it. Spend time chatting with the owners Wayne and Donna, they are delightful and curate or design every single piece in their shop. I bought a T shirt and some beads.
I found this place on my last trip, it’s part of Little Tokyo. It’s full of brilliant vintage finds, as well as fun trinkets like colourful socks, pop art tees, tons of Japanese print scarves and novelties like hats for cats. (Necessary, OK? Necessary.) Among other things, I bought his hat, which apparently says ‘bitch’ in Japanese. Many might say, if the cap fits…
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