Friday, May 20, 2011

In Defense of Gwyneth Paltrow

Gwyneth Paltrow gets a real bad rap.

Which is somewhat odd because Gwyneth Paltrow can also actually rap:

GP can also act, cook and sing. Forget [You] about J. Lo – my girl Gwyn is the ultimate triple threat.

Yet… for some reason the public at-large seems to hate her. Unlike Reese Witherspoon, Katherine Heigel, Kate Hudson, or Meg Ryan (back in her pre botoxed fish lips day) Gwyneth Paltrow has never been America’s sweetheart. Instead Gwyneth has forever been Queen G, head of Hollywood’s cool and therefore mean girls. Truly, there is nothing girl-next-door about Gwyneth, unless the girl next door to you lives in Apartment 15B of a Park Ave. Co-Op.

Rather then being the girl next door - Paltrow has always been effortlessly better than you. And this air of superiority clearly rubs people the wrong way; Google her name or read comments about her on gossip blogs and you'll get the feeling that not a lot of people like the Paltrow. As the daughter of Hollywood power-couple Bruce Paltrow and Blythe Danner Gwyneth is not representative of how American’s like to think of their domestic culture where anyone can become anyone; Gwyn’s gilded life is the opposite of the Horatio Alger “rags to riches” story that America’s like to name as a founding cultural motif. The fact that GP went from riches to riches while looking gorgeous in cashmere is like rubbing fleur de sel into an open wound.

Throughout her career Paltrow has done little to endear herself to the public. Such ill-advised comments: "I worry about bringing up a child in America… At the moment there's a weird, over-patriotic atmosphere over there, like, 'We're number one and the rest of the world doesn't matter,’” are clearly not mass market placating.

While such mildly asinine comments did nothing to endear Paltrow to the public I dare say the public has never truly liked her. Her GUSHING Best Actress win when she wore a Barbie pink dress and cried about her love for her father. She did herself no favours a year later when she showed up at the Oscars in a goth chic dress that made her breasts look like chicken cutlets.

In the interim years she grew up and married Chris Martin, lead singer of perhaps the most successful band since the Beatles (sorry Oasis), had a couple of children with said lead singer and gave them cloying names (Moses and Apple). She’s also made a number of dubious films while generally keeping herself in the spotlight for being rich, beautiful and successful without overexposure.

And yet people have continued to hate her. Ted Cassablanca infamously nicknamed her Fishsticks Paltrow so named because she is cold, much too thin and overly white-breaded.

I get some of this misplaced anger. I do. Gwyneth isn’t like like coca cola classic. Rather, like a fine Port Paltrow is an acquired taste. But friends - why must you hate her so? What has Saint Gwyneth, the Duchess of GOOP ever done to you besides tell you how to live your life better?

If anything I’d venture to say that my dear, sweet Gwyneth Kate Paltrow Martin is simply misunderestimated.

While often being labeled for being out of touch via her lifestyle newsletter GOOP – I would argue that GOOP is really based on the early twentieth century notion of moral uplift and upper middle class conceptions of charity. Similar to the temperance movement and other progressive causes taken up by wealthy, white, women in the early years of the twentieth century GOOP is a modern re-interpretation of progressivism. Ya know how Andrew Carnegie built libraries as a way of educating the masses? Paltrow is sending e-newsletters helping us nourish our inner aspect so we can live our life better. Just as Upton Sinclair fought for proper meat packaging in his book the Jungle… Gwyn is helping us pick out French skin-care solutions. Quelle surprise Mademoiselle Paltrow!

As G said herself upon launching GOOP: “I have this incredible, blessed, sometimes difficult, very lucky, very unique life, and I've gotten to travel all over the place and to work and live in different cities. … So I started accruing all of this information to share it.”

And while sometimes her choices are outrageous – don’t hate her for not knowing any better. In her most recent GOOP newsletter, Spring Wardrobe Basics, Gwyn advised spending a couple of thousand dollars on a spring wardrobe. The UK Mirror called her "out of touch." Is this a lot of money? Sure. But look – I probably spend a thousand on clothes “a season”… is ten times what I spend that outrageous for a woman who probably makes 20 times what I do? Besides – who cares if what Gwyneth is suggesting unaffordable outfits for the masses?

She’s Gwyneth Fucking Paltrow and La Paltrow does not represent the masses.

Isn’t that the point of celebrity anyway to make us feel inferior about our looks, sex and wealth? Part of what celebrities have traditionally been about (at least in the era before the current age of reality star twats) was cultivating such an unreachable image.

If anything GOOP is a modern compromise about how to be a celebrity in the twenty-first century. It is not grassroots, but it bends to the modern need for celebrities to share with their fans.

In today’s world of TMZ and Perez Hilton Gwyneth Paltrow is very intelligently controlling how we view her world. With GOOP she lets us in, but she controls the output. Is it all a bit much? Sure… the mutually masturbatory interview with Jay-Z was a bit much (sample question: "You are the coolest man on Earth, how the f did you get like that?"). But from Gwyn’s perspective – if we the public are consistently clamoring for celebrity and we the public are constantly desiring to know more about her life, is it not intelligent to try and control what and how we learn about her?

GOOP isn’t just about nourishing your inner aspect – its Gwyn’s attempt to stay above the current celebrity fray, that she would also probably say is completely beneath her, while also reinforcing the fact that she is indeed a celebrity and therefore better then us. So you will get GOOP every week, you will read it, and you will like it.

Because if celebrities aren't better then the great unwashed masses - then what good are they? GOOP is like a Lady Gaga outfit - it is a constant, weekly reminder that you are not Gwyneth Paltrow. So while you may hate her Paltrow is doing something serious: she is single handedly trying to rebuild that fourth wall of celebrity.

And that... that is why I love her.