Now and again I think that it might be worth reading newspapers and newspaper columnists again. Then I read something that annoys me.
The Sun Herald in Sydney published the above column entitled “Absolutely Fatuous” in its S Entertainment & Fashion pull out section yesterday (Sunday 1 August 2010). The author peppered the column with deliberately provocative opinions:
“the more obsessed a woman is with clothes, shoes and handbags, the more utterly barren her interior life”
“is it possible to have one’s moral compass in working order and …own 100 pairs of shoes?”
“Fashion is about the self, the me and if your wardrobe occupies half your bedroom …it’s a fair bet that your head is planted firmly up your own tastefully garbed bum”.
I have no intention of naming the chap that wrote the column. Attribution would simply further encourage him in his ‘smug, shallow and egregious’ written opinions (to quote A Cat In A Tree). In any case another blogger has already done a sterling job of beating him about the head with her feminine principles.
John Stuart Mill once argued that a citizenry could not, would not, flourish unless it was nourished by the full spectrum of voices that exist among the people. This means, of course, that anyone with an opinion should be able to voice it. I agree entirely with this precept provided that we are not charged the cover price of a newspaper to read that opinion.
There are those of you who will tell me that if I don’t like what this chap says I should just not read what he writes. Or buy the newspaper. A bit like that scene in the Big Lebowski when the Dude asks the driver to change the channel because the Eagles are doing his head in and the driver says “Fuck you man! You don’t like my fucking music, get your own fucking cab!”
Columnists are meant to be opinionated. They are also meant to be challenging and controversial. I’m all for risk taking and if someone is offended in the process of publishing a groundbreaking, confronting column this is a positive thing.
The chap in question however produces copy which neither groundbreaking nor particularly novel. As one of the commenters (meganwegan) on the News with Nipples blog observes that notes his schtick is that:
“materialism is only bad when women do it.
Shoes, bags, frocks, interiors = fatuous and shallow.
Cars, iPads, cellphones etc = serious and important.”
There may be people out there who buy things wantonly, fatuously and unquestioningly.
I have never actually met these people. Virtually everyone that I know has a very distinct idea, theorem or need in mind when they buy material things.
Nowhere is this more obvious to me than in the area of shoe purchasing. Using myself as an example, I cannot help but look at the contents of just about every shoe shop that I walk past. I can tell within about 30 seconds whether there is anything in there that interests me. 99.9% of the time I see nothing that makes me want to go into the shop. I don’t think that I am unusual in this.
The other 0.01% of the time I see something that resonates with me For example, the boots that I wore today were purchased in an Op-Shop – the Smith Family Charity Store in Hurstville. Never worn suede high heeled knee boots from Gary Castles Sydney which cost $15.00.
At first sight, my internal shoe calibration equipment buzzed an instantaneous recognition signal to me and I bought them without any hesitation.
It wasn’t until I got home that I realised that these boots reminded me of this pair of Sergio Rossi knee length suede boots from the late 90s.
Not exactly a match, I’ll grant you but a close similarity.
A close enough similarity to spend 3 months stretching the leather with shoe trees. A close enough similarity to:
- spend 45 minutes getting the zip up using metal skewers and other implements from my cutlery drawer before heading off to work
- wear all day even when my (larger) right foot started to scream ‘can’t move, can’t breathe’ on me.
- sacrifice very expensive tights which had been caught up in the zips when I put the boots on or about the same time as my right foot started screaming.
- think about calling for help from the work toilet (right next to my boss’ office) when I realised that cutting myself out of my tights with office scissors hadn’t helped liberate me, the boots were still attached to my legs and I was bleeding everywhere.
Fatuous – me? Absolutely not. Masochistic – possibly yes.