FORGET being made to feel old by news that Macaulay Culkin has turned 40.
I’m reeling from the fact that the Kardashians — whose reality show I still think of as newish — are going to hang up their stilettos after 14 years on our screens.
In the wake of that news, many have lost no time in denouncing the Kardashians as airheads and bimbos.
Somehow, their achievements as clever businesswomen who have set out to do exactly what they intended (become household names and earn a bloody fortune) are easily overlooked.
Also conveniently forgotten is the fact they have done all this at the same time as raising young families.
In fact, they have built their brand partly on the foundation of motherhood, which I call pretty impressive.
Lots of criticism seems to be focused on Kris Jenner, the Kardashian mother, or “momager” as she is called.
Some may think she encourages her girls to care more about how they look than how they act.
But she has five equally successful, rich, beautiful and, apparently, happy daughters . . . and ten grandchildren. And not a lot of people can say that.
The Kardashians have built their brand partly on the foundation of motherhood, which I call pretty impressive.
Among the other many accusations levelled at the Kardashian family is how much they love themselves.
But isn’t that a healthy approach to life, and to family?
I get the criticisms — of course I do.
They don’t wear enough clothes, they appear to have had plastic surgery, they pose provocatively (Kim, who is often referred to as having achieved fame because of a sex tape, broke the internet when she balanced a glass of champagne on her backside).
They encourage young girls to emulate their looks which, because they are airbrushed and — possibly — sometimes cosmetically achieved, means they promote unrealistic standards of beauty.
They are also accused of being vacuous, empty-headed, obsessed by their looks and by the trivial details of life (I remember watching an episode when Kim had a complete meltdown after a photo of her cellulite was published).
There is no doubt that some of these criticisms are true, and problematic.
But so much of the criticism seems to be aimed at trying to shame them about how they look and act — that they are not brain surgeons and “just” influencers.
The truth is, they pretty much coined the term influencers.
Indeed, they have promoted products until they are coming out of their ears . . . and straight into their bank accounts.
It may not be what you or I would choose to do as a career, but whatever your view of “influencing” as a career choice, the Kardashian family realised the power of their personal brand, harnessed that power and built a billion-dollar empire based on it.
As a fellow businesswoman I admire that.
But also, they can’t be that vacuous if they have turned their brand into a global business.
And that is why it really irritates me when people proudly declare they have never seen an episode of Keeping Up With The Kardashians, as if it is too trivial for them to bother with.
Yes, sure, the show may not be your cup of tea — it is not mine, really.
But, culturally speaking, KUWTK has been an undeniable influence and to eschew it on the grounds of high-mindedness just sounds like snobbery.
But all that aside, even if it is true that these women are trivial, vacuous and empty-headed, do you think they give so much as half a fig, as they count their millions and hug their many children close?
I seriously doubt it.
I’M far too cautious to wade into the terrifyingly thorny debate about sex and gender that has tied academics and intellectuals in knots over recent years, and led to gulfs, rifts and even death threats.
But wherever you stand, surely it is fair enough to ask the question of why if – and to my mind this is a very big if – we need a new word for women, then why don’t we also need a new word for men?
I’m talking about the TedxLondon Twitter announcement this week that instead of using the word “women” they will be using “womxn”, on the grounds that it’s more inclusive.
But if we are tinkering around with the word “women” then why are we not changing the word “men” as well? We could, for example, say “mxn” instead.
But also, if the other reason to use the word “womxn” is to include trans women – a concept I heartily support – what about trans men?
If trans women feel alienated by the word women, aren’t trans men just as likely to feel alienated by the word men?
If we are changing the word women then let’s also change the word men too, shall we?
Otherwise it looks like we are expecting women to do all the accommodating, which makes me feel like saying that people proposing the use of the completely unpronounceable “womxn” are a bunch of wxnkxrs!
The only time it would be acceptable would be in a game of Scrabble.
THERE are so many things to love about Jane Fonda.
There is the fact that, at the age of 82, after spending the past 50 years getting arrested for activism of various kinds, she has just written a book called What Can I Do?, in which she tries to get to grips with the climate crisis.
There is the fact that, having been married three times to rich and powerful men, she concluded last week in an interview that she is stronger than them all – and very happy being alone.
There is her amazing, award-strewn acting career and the fact she has been making TikTok workout videos, knowing that TikTok is the best way to reach young people.
But perhaps what I love most about her is her open mind and her determination to keep learning, even at a grand old age.
“Oh, it’s the most exciting thing in the world, to keep learning!” she said last week.
“It’s one of my mantras: It’s more important to be interested than to be interesting”.
My new ambition is to Be More Jane.
WE all love to moan about people who take their surroundings for granted by dropping litter, which has reached epidemic proportions since lockdown.
So I’d like to share an example of someone deciding to make the environment a more pleasant place.
Pensioner Bob Mouland, 71, took it upon himself to spend hours – not to mention £200 of his own money – giving a rusty Victorian cast iron fountain in Folkestone, Kent, a new coat of paint.
But as he was applying the finishing touches to the Grade II listed statue last Monday, a council official ordered him to stop and two enforcement officers issued him with an anti-social behaviour warning.
What miserable sods.
Meanwhile, a protester in London tried to set light to a Union Flag at the Cenotaph in June – and it appears they got off scot-free.
It’s official: Britain’s gone bonkers.
SO, all clear on the latest lockdown advice?
Not me. In fact, my overwhelming sense from this new “rule of six” is confusion.
It is impossible to see the logic, given we are being encouraged to go to work and travel on public transport squashed in with hundreds of strangers.
All this to spend the day working, unmasked, indoors alongside colleagues who we know, certainly, but whose activities away from the workplace are a mystery to us.
Our children can go to school, mixing with hundreds of other kids, probably with minimal distancing.
So it is only family and close friends around where you must limit numbers.
Yet these are the very people whose whereabouts you are most likely to be aware of . . . and the people you have the strongest interest in looking after.
And we are all wondering about Christmas.
Well, I’ve thought it through and I reckon I have the perfect solution.
I’m planning to spend the big day with my family and friends . . . on the Tube.
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