The foot, the mouth and Gwyneth Paltrow
She’s been in the news more than just about anyone else this past week, but probably for reasons she doesn’t like.
Gwyneth Paltrow, self-anointed guru of … practically anything … saw her GOOP website crash when she posted that she and rocker-husband Chris Martin are divorcing.
OOOPS! Sorry, they are “consciously uncoupling.” Don’t say the “D” word. (The uncoupling term comes from a lifestyle guru, one of many people the movie star follows in her quest to be the Perfect Person.)
But Gwynnie’s managed to get even more attention for something else she then said. Gwyneth believes that you have it easier if you’re raising kids than she does, because, well, being a famous movie star is tough. You plebeians just don’t appreciate it because you’re, well, plebeians:
“It’s much harder for me…you [working moms] can do all the stuff in the morning and then you come home in the evening. When you’re shooting a movie, they’re like, ‘We need you to go to Wisconsin for two weeks,’ and then you work 14 hours a day and that part of it is very difficult. I think to have a regular job and be a mom is not as, of course there are challenges, but it’s not like being on set.”
Really, even for her, wow.
There’s all sorts of theories why people dislike Gwyneth Paltrow, but I think the most obvious is that she has manufactured everything about her life, from leveraging her godfather connection with Steven Spielberg to get her first gig to threatening to destroy Vanity Fair, Louella Parsons-style, by telling everyone she knows never to speak to the magazine again for daring to write a story that her life was less than perfect. The exact contents of this article will never be known, but the fact that the divor—um, conscious uncoupling (Angelina to Brad: “Dammit, now what are we going to call our divorce?”) came just a few months later is surely no coincidence. (Paltrow admits she and Martin have been trying to patch things for “well over a year,” according to her site.) Vanity Fair later killed the piece they’d originally implied would be a bombshell, saying actually it wasn’t all that interesting after all. Yes, movie stars typically do everything in their power to squash an article that “isn’t very interesting.”
Sometimes I wonder if Paltrow actually uses her perch at her website as an act of sour aggression. She can’t be so dumb as not to realize that when she raves about $400 silk T-shirts and $10,000 room make-overs she’s rubbing our noses in it, all the while seemingly “surprised” if you’d think these are little more than small splurges. She must realize that ordinary people don’t have nannies and assistants, and don’t hire decorators to do their house. She has played some ordinary people in movies, after all.
Some critics call her tone-deaf. I think it goes a lot deeper than that. Gwyneth Paltrow, under the sunny exterior, has contempt for the plain, boring people who have made her rich and famous—something Welsey Shaw, for all her shortcomings, does not.
Her GOOPsite is a plethora of “look how superior I am to you”-ness. She famously condemned Americans for being shallow materialists—“…I was at a party and a girl looked at me and said, ‘Oh, my God! Are those Juicy jeans that you’re wearing?’ … I have to get back to Europe.”—and then opened a retail store in L.A. that extols exactly that kind of conspicuous consumption. There are people who genuinely want to share something that makes their lives better. And there are people who want to tell you about the great things they have knowing you probably can’t have them yourself. They will listen to you talk about how stressful just getting by can be, and then recommend a month of golf in Hawaii as the cure.
Gwyneth is that second kind. She enjoys diminishing you even as you line up to see her films or buy items from the product lines she hawks. Her perfection is pointless without an audience. After all, if a perfect tree fell perfectly in the perfect forest and there was no one to hear it, there’d be no sound.
No wonder Harvey Weinstein stopped letting her use the Miramax jet. She probably kept leaving gum under the seat.
She has stated that she only lets her children watch TV if it’s in French or Spanish. This might not be so hard to swallow if she practiced what she preached, but she continues to do American films and television, and cash hefty American paychecks for doing it.
In a way I feel sorry for her. She’s an empty vessel. There’s nothing there, no soul, just macrobiotic Kabala. And the narcissistic desire to be envied. Our attention—I was about to say approval, but she doesn’t care about approval, only attention—is what drives her.
Since she’s so into speaking French, I wonder if she knows the phrase faux pas.
Really, Gwynnie, perhaps you should let everyday people give advice to everyday people.
More about her latest one here: