The Lost Gloves & Shoes of Tom Hanks’ Instagram

The actor Tom Hanks has a charming Instagram presence. Of his 184 posts, over sixty are pictures of lost or discarded objects; a lone white glove on a rocky patch of land resembling the surface of the moon, a dirty jelly shoe held up against the backdrop of turquoise sky. “Found. At bottom of the sea.” he wrote, “1 girls (?) shoe. To claim call 1-NEptune.” He occasionally appears as a shadow in these shots, which he signs “Hanx.” They indicate a man who is present and alert in the spaces he catalogs for the digital world. It’s easy to imagine his glee when he spots a new object. Each photo poses endless questions, and every object is imbued with meaning beyond its original purpose. Who did this shoe belong to? How far has it been carried by the currents of the oceans? What the hell have we done to this planet? “Are all of these your gloves ? Or someone else’s?” asked Kaleb Rich Harris. “Is this just one huge ploy concerning how this whole life experience might be interactions with just other versions of ourselves or with completely different versions [of] everyone else and not at all ourselves?” 

It’s a nice account. He promotes his wife’s music and supports veterans and Aston Villa Football Club–there are no pictures of an infinity pool or the bow of a yacht shot between his feet. But a subset of Instagram users see only the Devil. They believe Tom Hanks is taunting the world with pictures of trophies from the victims of the Illuminati’s blood-drenched sacrifices. “Pedofilo de mierda!” Jacquelin Sanchez Photographer exclaimed under a a bubble gum pink running shoe. “Is that what’s left of your illuminati parties?” wondered Sir Trashman. Many women express dismay that the Hanks they believed him to be (a mixture of Alan Bauer in Splash, Jim Lowell in Apollo 13, and Forrest Gump) was a cover. “Such a phony, you play this sweet and innocent giving and caring actor, meanwhile you’re hiding skeletons and gloves in your closet,” Ollie Mommy 87 posted under a picture of a discarded couch. They tell Hanks that he is a sick man and that everyone is on to him. That his time will soon be up and that hell awaits him. In their pathology they resemble the people who think they’re the victims of gang-stalking. Every time Tom Hanks comes across a discarded glove, he re-confirms their delusion. It’s like a mutant cyberspace strain of De Clérambault’s Syndrome. “I know the elite sacrifice for wealth and position and it’s not a fake it’s real people,” said Linda 14346 Northern Ireland. “We all know HANX,” wrote JuliAnn ScMurphy. “Also noticed you’ve been deleting comments with credible info, yet keep the ones that make us sound like we’re lunatics. TICK TOC.” 

“I think all of the great stories in literature deal with loneliness,” Hanks told the writer Danny Leigh. “Sometimes it’s by way of heartbreak, sometimes it’s by way of injustice, sometimes it’s by way of fate. There’s an infinite number of ways to examine it. If there’s a reason it always seems to be there with me, it’s because it’s so palpable to all of us. You can turn everything into an aspect of that battle against quiet despair, because we all fight it at some point in order to feel we’re part of humanity.”

Hanks talked about loneliness when he was promoting Cast Away in 2001, three years before Facebook was founded. His quote encapsulates both the loneliness of the Hanx images and the paranoid hallucinations people who post under them. Truncated and superimposed over a mountainscape, it has become popular on Instagram.

Barbie’s Bath and Jacuzzi Playsets

The Jacuzzi was a cinematic trope once deployed as reliably as frantic Japanese tourists or a homeless man inadvertently witnessing the film’s entire plot. Playboys and villains toasted stiff-haired women in high-cut swimsuits, and good men climbed into the bubbles to be hoodwinked and lead astray. Mattel Inc. responded to the trend by manufacturing an unending stream of bathtubs, showers, and hot tubs for its Barbie Playsets range. There was Barbie Sweet Roses Beauty Bath, Barbie Living Pretty Beauty Bath, Barbie’s Bubbling Spa; endless variations on a single theme.

In 1982 the National Broadcasting Association had cast-off its children’s ad guidelines and discontinued the limits on the number of commercials that could air. At last, advertisers were no longer prevented from hammering a sales message or the use of the words “only,” and “just” before the price. The next year N. W. Ayer[1] took over the Mattel account.

Barbie dolls reclined in a bubble bath or perched rigidly on the edge of a Jacuzzi in metallic bathing suits while the camera roamed over their plastic, foam-kissed legs. The salaciousness was in contrast to the girls in the playset commercials, who spoke in babyish tones as they manipulated their avatars.

There was never any suggestion that Barbie would be joined in her bubbly spa or glass shower by a Ken doll, but Mattel Inc. skirted a fine line in a time when the Moral Majority was leading I Love America rallies. The playset campaigns managed to be simultaneously wildly inappropriate and chaste. The excessively wholesome behavior of the little girls served as a silent rebuke to viewers:  How dare you see something else in this ad: it is you who is the sicko.

Barbie Bubble Bath (1981)

 

“You girls ready?”

A hapless dad pushed open the bedroom door while his daughter held out her hand.

“Don’t come in Dad! Barbie’s taking a bubble bath!”

Thick bubbles protected Magic Curl Barbie’s modesty, a challenge crews would grapple with when shooting Barbie in the shower.

“This is the Barbie Bubble Bath!” the narrator said, in a voice so syrupy she could conduct a fake phone poll in a brutal South Carolina primary dirty tricks campaign. “You have to put it together!”

The presentation of the accessories occurs at the denouement of the ads. The 1981 playset came with a bottle of bubbles, a fingernail-sized comb and hairbrush, a plastic chair, and a vanity.[2] Barbie was dressed in a yellow ballgown for the father’s return.

“Doesn’t Barbie look pretty Dad?”

“Maybe I should try a Barbie Bubble Bath!”

“Maybe you should stop being such a creep dad,” someone commented below the video.

It was not for nothing that James Michener called the 1980s the Ugly Decade.

Barbie’s Bubbling Spa (1983)

An arch commentary on systems of power and the cinematic gaze, this commercial upended the traditional structure of a Jacuzzi scene, whereby the women existed as nameless, swimsuited wallpaper to a good ol’ boy carrying a cowboy hat and a magnum of champagne.
“Oh Barbie what a beautiful spa! Do I hear… Bubbles?”
Two girls glided the dolls towards the octagon-shaped playset–Barbie legs could move back and forth but no one ever bothered, not even on the commercials.[3] The dolls slid into the water, alone together. The camera lingered on the bubbles coursing across their stiff legs. A girl flicked a plastic beach ball into the Jacuzzi, her eyes wild with excitement. Barbie’s creator understood that little girls didn’t want to pretend to be mommies. They wanted to be bigger girls. The benign, babyish play in the commercials belied that children did not always play gently with their Barbies. The dolls hunted each other down in the Dream Car and judo kicked their rivals over pink staircases. They turned the Dream House into a bordello, where they vied ruthlessly for the attentions of the lone Ken.

Barbie Glamour Bath and Shower (1985)

“We girls are taking a bubble bath. Right Barbie?”
Briefly, a close-up of Barbie’s odd face filled the screen, her rictus grin and dilated pupils framed by bubbles. Large plastic diamond studs were jammed into holes in the side of the head. YouTube comments below the video point out that one of the child actors in the commercial is Fergie from the Black Eyed Peas, that the doll’s legs look huge, that water ruined the nylon hair and made the plastic stiff, that the girls in the commercial are giggling while they watch Barbie shower.

“Soaking up beauty by the hour/ Then with a flip, we can shampoo/ In the shower!”

Playsets embraced the era’s vulgar rococo Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous aesthetic. Bathtubs and spas became increasingly ornate as the eighties progressed. By mid-decade Barbie’s bath was perched on a platform, with a pink swan’s head faucet. The toys were manufactured in Taiwan until operations were moved to China in 1987.

Mattel says a Barbie is sold every three seconds, which is 10.5 million dolls a year. These polyvinyl chloride, polypropylene, and ethylene-vinyl acetate ladies and their accouterments are with us still. The Bubbling Spa, and the Fountain Pool, and the Tropical Splash Barbie Pool ‘n Spa. Workin’ Out Barbie, Medieval Lady Barbie, and teen Barbie Midge, pregnant with a little plastic fetus called Nikki. Shedding particles of cadmium and lead, festering in landfills and travelling the world in the Great Pacific garbage patch, velveteen rabbits who never became real.

[1] N. W Ayers came up with the slogans “Be all that you can be” for the Unites States Army and “Diamonds are forever” for De Beers.

[2] Toys from the 1970s and 80s are notoriously high in lead. Some more recent Mattel recall and safety alerts:  “Barbie Dream Kitty Condo™ Playset Affected Part: Kitty,” “Barbie Dream Puppy House™ Playset, Affected Part: Puppy.”

[3] Not even the adult who three decades later who would post a six-minute long video of a Barbie pretending to drink a glass of champagne,  play with a rubber duck, and take selfies in a bubble bath. The video has been viewed over 1. 2 million times on YouTube.

Maury

Maury Screenshot

She shops for menswear. Black pants and dark sweaters, also black, or the grey of hot fresh asphalt. Fleece (“too casual”) is verboten. He is partial to fine cable knit sweaters with zip-necks. She found a black V-neck cardigan and paired it with a glazed grey shirt, which he loved. He is unafraid of turtlenecks. It’s a neutral style of dressing, like a mime’s, or a stagehand who rearranges the props in between the scenes of a play.

He rolls the sleeves up his forearms during tapings. The wardrobe assistant thinks it’s an unconscious gesture. He shows his flesh to his guests to reassure them, somehow. He wears eyeglasses to deliver the results of the paternity and lie detector tests. It adds a certain gravitas, but also– he’s seventy-four years old and he needs them. People forget because he’s so unbelievably spry.

He never knows the results of the tests beforehand. This ensures that his reactions are absolutely fresh. He pauses to savor the moment before he delivers his catchphrase. “You are the father!” or, “You are not the father!”, depending. He affects a southern accent of varying intensities.

The wardrobe assistant would like to see him take more chances with his eyewear. He prefers rimless glasses, with clear arms. She got him into some heavier black Yves Saint Laurent frames. He grimaced and said, “People used to wear glasses like this because they had to,” but put them on for the show.

He wears sensible shoes to mine primordial urges. He’s up and down the whole show to greet people. He has issued an edict against pointy-toed loafers. His black shoes have rubber soles and good support so he can chase the hysterical guests backstage. Man or woman, he cups their cheeks in his palms to cajole them with the Maury Treatment.

Beggin’ by Madcon blasts before he comes out to start taping. It’s always something lively; Sexy and I Know It; Don’t Stop the Party. The audience goes berserk when Maury walks onstage. The guests can hear the music in the green room. They’re so hyped up some of them start pumping their fists.

The shirts and sweaters go straight to the cleaners at the end of the day, because he sweats foundation onto the collars. The pants are usually fine, if someone goes over them with a garment steamer. This is one of the wardrobe assistant’s responsibilities.

Whenever her job comes up at social gatherings, it becomes a big topic of conversation. People can be so judgmental. There’s always someone who rather proudly informs her that the show she works on is trash.

Official Royal Itinerary for Her Majesty, Queen Elizabeth II’s State Banquet for Babies

Screenshot (1513)Two months prior to the banquet, invitations are mailed to six hundred exceptional babies on the advice of the Foreign and Commonwealth Office. As with all royal events, the guests are generally babies who have made valuable contributions to society or charitable organizations. The babies arrive privately at Heathrow Airport, where they are greeted by the Lord-in-Waiting on behalf of the Queen. The gold and red state landau, outfitted with car seats, is driven up the Mall, escorted by the Household Cavalry. Their arrival at Buckingham Palace is heralded by a 21-gun salute. Inside, Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth will invite her guests to the picture gallery to view an exhibition from the Royal Collection of paintings featuring babies.

Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth the Second loves babies. She appreciates their ineffable qualities, the remote mystery of their thoughts and dreams. The babies’ state banquet celebrates the Averyness of Avery; the divine sagacity of Jaden; the transcendent Thomasness of Thomas.

The babies will assemble in the White Drawing Room for a reception with the speaker of the House of Commons, who will deliver a short address, Babies Equipping the European Union for the 21st Century. Queen Elizabeth will circulate, giving guests an opportunity to meet personally with Her Majesty. Her Royal Highness’ questions might include: “Aren’t you a lovely baby?”, “How long have you been a baby?”, “Is this your first visit to Britain?” and “Do you enjoy being a baby?”

The Official Harpist to the Prince of Wales will play a selection including Old MacDonald Had A Farm, C is for Cookie, I Love Trash, One of These Things Is Not Like the Others and Johannes Brahms’ Op. 49, No. 4. Footmen will circulate, discreetly changing diapers as required.

Babies will be carried into the ballroom in pairs. The table will be set with 18th century porcelain, the 4,000 piece Grand Service tableware purchased by George IV, BPA-free Philips Avent bottles with anti-colic valves, and Medela Calma Breastmilk Bottles, with a choice of medium and slow flow teats. The menu will include savory Aptamil formula, lobster mousse, mashed cocotte potatoes, and roasted loin of Balmoral venison puree.

In a toast dating back to the reign of Queen Victoria, Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth will begin the banquet by asking, “Are you going to show me your Big Mouth? Big Mouth!” Yeoman Warders dressed in red and gold Tudor uniforms will be on hand to burp guests in between courses. Her Majesty will indicate the meal is over by inserting her pinkie finger into the side of her Lord-in-Waiting’s mouth.

Diners will be attired in evening dress (white tie) with decorations, or national dress. Babies are advised to bring at least two identical changes of clothes. It is requested that they refrain from scratching, kicking, or head butting the footmen and Yeoman Warders. Gilt-edged cots are available for naps. Guests succumbing to bouts of unexplained hysteria will be escorted to the Green Drawing Room, where they will be invited to view an exhibition of presents given to His Royal Highness Prince George on the occasion of his christening.

At the end of the meal twelve pipers will process around the hall playing The People in Your Neighbourhood and guests will retire for handmade petits fours and coffee in the State Rooms, where the Queen will present the babies with silver-framed photographs of herself and the Duke of Edinburgh.