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Emails to my Therapist

Such Surprising Joy!

Dear Nicholas, Sunday night, still in my grubby gardening clothes from the afternoon, I was parked alone in front of the TV watching the glamour and who-are-you-wearing of the Oscars, when suddenly I experienced an eruption of joy. An explosion of delight! Such surprising joy!

I’m one who likes the Oscars (I know there are quite a few who emphatically don’t) but I never expected a peak experience out of watching.

And I was not the only one suddenly joyful. The people in attendance simply went wild. Today The New Yorker quotes  a woman saying that seeing this three minute and forty-two second performance is one of the highlights of her life–and she’s had a wedding and the birth of two babies.

I’m wondering how this performance managed to produce such joy as it did. It sure did in me. Just watching on TV I felt part of what was happening in that auditorium. And connected with watchers and dancers.

So what was the performance? You may well already know. It was when Ryan Gosling sang “I’m Just Ken” from the movie Barbie, joined by Mark Ronson, Slash & The Kens, as well as people on the front row of the audience and the cameraman he pulled onto the stage.

I’ve seen a million song and dance numbers. Have even been to some concerts. Not one has ever affected me like this before. And there are a lot of other good singers in the world.  Good dancers, good-looking men in sparkly suits, too.

Here’s the Youtube link which, I have to say, is a mysteriously diminished view of what I saw Sunday night.

I want to know why I and so many others were so affected by “I’m Just Ken”? Can you explain this? Can anyone?


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  • Mary
    March 12, 2024 at 8:17 pm Reply

    Peggy, love hearing this “surprised by joy” moment. I was a bit distracted when this number was on, so this is a good reminder to me to be more present. I think Ryan Gosling stole the show in the Barbie movie, which is ironic

    • Peggy Payne
      March 12, 2024 at 9:03 pm Reply

      It is ironic. But then a lot of the audience was female and susceptible to the charms of this Ken.

  • Mike Zipser
    March 12, 2024 at 8:21 pm Reply

    He based it on the Marilyn Monroe “Diamonds are a girls best friend’ number. The men had on very similar vests and the choreography was very similar. Fantastic.

    • Peggy Payne
      March 12, 2024 at 9:02 pm Reply

      I’m pleased you thought it fantastic, Mike! It’s nice to have company in this.

  • March 12, 2024 at 8:21 pm Reply

    Peggy, I didn’t watch the Awards, but because of the way Ryan Gosling’s performance was reported the next day, I did check out the YouTube video. It was “diminished” times two or three, it was so bad. I could not BEGIN to comprehend why the performance was so highly praised. I thank you for reporting your own experience, which gets me sitting up and listening (and wishing I HAD watched the Awards).

    • Peggy Payne
      March 12, 2024 at 9:00 pm Reply

      Morris, I think the whole award show is available on Youtube. Or somewhere online that I recently noticed it.

  • Gail Chesson
    March 12, 2024 at 8:54 pm Reply

    That movie! So much of it was joyous.

    • Peggy Payne
      March 12, 2024 at 8:59 pm Reply

      I saw the movie under particularly favorable circumstances, Gail. At night on the open top deck of a ship in the Caribbean. And it still was not as good for me as the Sunday night song.

  • Kenju
    March 12, 2024 at 11:17 pm Reply

    I did not see the movie, and other than the fact that this was a “Busby Berkleyesque production, it was nice, but it didn’t spark joy in me. Maybe if I had seen the movie I’d have more context with which to enjoy it. But I’m glad for you!

    • Peggy Payne
      March 13, 2024 at 12:48 am Reply

      Thanks, Judy. And I was not wowed by the movie, as so many were. I did find it fun. Not sure that seeing it would have made a difference in your reaction.

  • Anonymous
    March 13, 2024 at 12:05 am Reply

    I felt the same way during his performance. I was smiling and clapping — Ryan should win an award for that performance alone!

    • Peggy Payne
      March 13, 2024 at 12:49 am Reply

      Oh, good. I’m glad you felt the same way, Anon! It’s more fun that way.

      • March 13, 2024 at 1:39 am Reply

        I’m clearly not the intended audience for this production number, and that can’t reduce away any of the pleasures so many reported from watching it. Just not my cup of tea, & I’m glad you and those others who liked it enjoyed toi so much. bob

        • Peggy Payne
          March 13, 2024 at 2:37 am Reply

          Very sporting of you, Bob. Somehow I’d thought it wouldn’t be your cup of tea.

  • Bob
    March 13, 2024 at 4:00 pm Reply

    u rite, b

  • Linda
    March 13, 2024 at 4:34 pm Reply

    Yes, it was great! I’m in awe of his talent!

    • Peggy Payne
      March 13, 2024 at 6:37 pm Reply

      I’ve only recently “discovered” him, Linda. My first impression was from the movie where he was in love with a mannequin and he seemed to me a bit dorky there. I’ve revised that. Not dorky at all.

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