Several hair-raising events transpired at Dreadful Acres/Spinster HQ this weekend. Hear my tale.
The nieces Finn and Ro-Tel, ages 7 and 9, were here for a sleepover. Like all little girls, they are horse crazy. It is not enough that they have unlimited access to actual horses while they are here. In the bunkhouse they like to amuse themselves with toy horses as well. Ever the doting aunt, I maintain a supply of these future objets de landfill in a special cabinet.*
I’d bought a new addition to the plastic herd since the nieces’ last visit: an eventer set with Breyer horse, saddle, bridle, and rider doll complete. The doll was dressed, inexplicably, in a track suit. I’d selected it specifically because of the weird track suit, actually. It’s baggy and sort of sex-neutral, sending, I hoped in my ceaseless naivete, the message that this girl cares more about keeping her eyes on the prize than looking like a dudefantasy. But when we extracted the doll from the excessive packaging — a gaudy box showcasing the tracksuited doll and her mount against a breathtaking rolling green backdrop untouched by global warming — my lobe began to pulsate. Under its unisex duds, the doll was a proper mutant. That’s right, I’m talkin’ straight up Barbie syndrome. Gazongas like missiles, wasp waist, toothpick legs about 17 times as long as they ought to be, microscopic noselet, insipid smile with Porn2K-compliant parted lips. The face, with its giant dead mascara eyes, recalls the toddler beauty queen prosti-tot, while the bullet-boobs are pure Penthouse, and the blank expression is vaguely suggestive of both compliance and hardening cheese dip.**.
I grasp that Barbie syndrome isn’t breaking news, but that’s no reason to ignore that it’s still standard practice in 2013, and that it’s still flippin’ icky.
Once apprised of my mistake, I naturally wanted to remove the doll from the niecely midst, but this was a no-go; they’d formed an instantaneous and unbreakable bond.
Feeling remorseful over my unintentional reinforcement of the patriarchal pro-femininity mores, I almost considered not making them eat cauliflower for dinner. In the end, though, they not only ate the cauliflower (tossed with olive oil and roasted at 375F for 21 minutes) but proclaimed for the first time in their lives that they “loved” it. With this triumph I was feeling pretty cocky about my auntly abilities.
Until TV hour.
The show they had see was “H2O: Just Add Water” on the TeenNick channel. It is, apparently, the best show ever. This Disney-esque series, to my gape-mouthed horror, is about a trio of teen mermaids. Hot teen mermaids, which I suppose goes without saying (they resemble inflatable sex dolls in that YouTube still, no?). They’re garden-variety gorgeous, white, blonde 16-year-old besties living on dry land until someone throws them in a pool or they fall into the ocean or a drop of rain splats on them. That’s all it takes for everything below the waist to morph into a dolphin tail. Whereupon the girls acquire some sort of magic water-balloon-throwing superpowers, as well as become marvelously proficient at swimming underwater with their arms straight out in front of them, their glittering dolphin tails peenistically pumping them onward toward new romantic teen adventures.
That mermaid tail detail, incidentally, has always irked me bigtime (in addition to the general tiresomeness of fetishistic mermaidian folklore, of course). Mermaids are supposed to be half fish, right? So I’ll allow the fish-scales. But their tail fins are without exception depicted as horizontally oriented, like cetaceans, not vertically oriented like fishes. So my question is: what the fuck? Read a fuckin’ book on marine biology, why don’t ya, all you mermaid illustratin’ dickheads.
By the way, according to Wikipedia: “The US National Ocean Service stated in 2012 that no evidence of mermaids has ever been found.” Thanks, National Ocean Service! We were all wondering.
Anyway, this episode of “H2O: Just Add Water” was a relentless femininity-stereotype fandango. The three hot teen mermaid protagonists are foiled by a less hot, chubby, unpleasant mermaid antagonist. This mean mermaid is unpleasant because she believes one of the hot mermaids has stolen her cute blonde boyfriend, for whom she pines. To settle the score of the stolen boyfriend, there ensues a magic water balloon superpower fight, and Mean Girl emerges victorious. But her triumph is short-lived. Cute Boy and Mean Girl do a scene where she thinks they’re getting back together, but Cute Boy says no, he loves Hot Mermaid now. Thus is the natural order restored: clingy deluded Mean Girl gets dissed; adorable blonde boy gets a girlfriend more suited to his cuteness level; and the three hot teen mermaids do a sexy underwater teen bikini sperm-swim.
So, to recap:
• Skinny blonde girls are awesome.
• Chubby girl is bad.
• Girls physically fight over a boy.
• Cute boy schools bad chubby girl in the error of her ways (she will probably die alone).
• Bikini-clad mermaids with taxonomically confusing tails are aspirational figures.
The nieces were transfixed. I couldn’t even begin to determine how to put together a feminist critique that they would comprehend. I just babbled some crap about how femininity is a construct designed to perpetuate the low status of women in society, and also, mermaids are bad role models. Not surprisingly, they were all, “Huh? Whatever. Can we have ice cream?”
I mean, I couldn’t even get them through 24 measly hours without subjecting them to all manner of malignant misogynist brainwashing. The spinster aunt trucker hat is off to all you mothers who have to deal with this shit day in day out. Jesus in a jetpack!
So what’s on your spleen?
* No one has ever accused me of failing to lavish upon my young relatives material goods in the shape of cheap crap from China. I’m not proud of it, but it is — as I have heard my fellow idiot jacknuts assert when seeking to absolve themselves of personal responsibility by suggesting that Fate Unremitting has once again smote their Free Will with a blood-caked sword — what it is.
curve slightly, like plastic spoons
being worked in a hardening cheese dip.
— From “All-Nite Donuts” by Albert Goldbarth