Saturday, October 19, 2013
Martha said what??
A few people have asked me what I think of the Martha brouhaha.
(Okay – one person. And I think they only asked me because I am old. After all, I have been with Martha from the beginning. Beginning like the early-mid-1980s, when I first became a wife and stay-at-home mom and I wanted to do it RIGHT, dammit! Back when most bloggers were in middle or high school, rockin’ huge hair and neon sweatshirts. “So what do the old bloggers think about this whole Martha thing?” they are asking.)
Well, since you (one person) asked, this is what I think:
I think that the hypothesis of self-fulfilling prophecy is real. I believe that if you fake it long enough, you can convince yourself you’ve become it. Unlike Tom Cruise, I believe that narcissism and other psychological disorders exist. And I believe that there are some people who have a need for something which they do not have, and that they may never have.
I don’t know Ms. Stewart at all, but I was a follower for a long time. I have her older cookbooks, and I use them (as evidenced by grease spatters and smears of batter). Stuff is written in the margins where I had to tweak a cooking time or temp, based on old, ornery ovens. (I was young and poor.)
(photo is obviously not mine, as mine suck. This is from Martha’s website.)
But even then, I could see what Martha’s gig was. I could see that (as the rumor went) if you turned down a scholarship to NYU in order to go to Barnard, you wanted that whole “Seven Sisters” mystique—almost guaranteeing that you would find an Ivy League husband. Which she did.
I could see that having a husband who could not only support you (a girl from a large, working-class Polish family) in the manner to which you wanted to become accustomed, but also introduce you to contacts who would become valuable later on, was imperative. I could see that the whole “Greed-is-Good” mantra of the 1980s was a critical piece of your business plan—convincing people that buying that $6 melon and $3 kiwi wasn’t extravagant, if it meant you were going to have the fruit salad of the year.
But it was never going to be enough. Never.
I remember reading an article in People magazine when my kids were in elementary school (it’s in the archives here!) and thinking to myself “this woman really isn’t happy.” And I think that’s it, in a nutshell. Martha needs to believe she’s still all that and a platter of $10 melon (prices have gone up since 1986) and that she is somebody. Somebody special who doesn’t have to compete with a younger, more vibrant arbiters of lifestyle. Like bloggers,
or Gwyneth…or anyone who is on her own journey, sharing tips and tidbits of lifestyle in a way that’s accessible to anyone with a computer. Folks who aren’t going to spend a lot of money on a melon or a magazine.
Sure, Martha has beautiful homes and exquisite stuff which which to fill them. She has dogs and cats and horses and probably a really cool truck. She has oodles of money and contracts and all those things to which many bloggers aspire, albeit on a smaller scale. All because she made Home-Ec cool again.
But if we stripped all that away...who would she be? She would be a 72 year-old woman whose most impressive days are probably behind her. She isn’t married, and her empire is losing money. Now would be the time for Martha to make a change in her mission. She’s clever enough to figure out how to segue into a new arena for which she could be a spokesperson—possibly one dealing with an aging population. Or better yet…set up a non-profit to benefit folks who could use some of those $10 melons.
There’s more than one way to be somebody, Martha. And, if you’re lucky, more than one somebody to be.