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In defense of Gwyneth Paltrow

In defense of Gwyneth Paltrow

Brodie Lancaster writes.

Gwyneth Paltrow was recently named the most irritating celebrity in Hollywood by a team of people who are probs very insightful, educated and unbiased. She beat out other “annoying” (otherwise known as successful and not Jennifer Lawrence) women, including Kristen Stewart, Jennifer Lopez and Angelina Jolie for the top spot, so congrats I guess?

It’s not unusual for people (read: Jezebel staffers and Buzzfeed contributors) to take the anti-Gwyneth position; she’s thin, white, wealthy, privileged and friends with Jay-Z and Beyoncé. But being critical of Gwyneth doesn’t make anyone edgy or provocative; it’s a default opinion that is rarely challenged or examined, and has infiltrated celebrity commentary to the point where anything written about her becomes tinged with a tone as snarky and judgmental as a bratty teenager’s Burn Book. 

Here’s a quick test to determine whether or not the criticism has affected your judgment:
Does imagining Gwyneth Paltrow saying: “I think that women, especially women in my job, come to me because they know I’m very loving and nonjudgmental and I’m not competitive, and I’ve been through a lot,” make you feel:

a)      Comforted that Gwyneth is helping her sisterz to do it for themselves (whatever “it” may be)

b)      Dry in the eye sockets on account of excessive exasperated eye-rolling. 

If you answered “b”, I’d like you to imagine Michelle Obama or Tina Fey or Mia Farrow or, hell, even Justin Bieber (switch them pronouns) saying the same thing, and gauge the difference in your reaction. 

There’s a level of accessibility that celebrities are expected to possess. Despite their personal drivers and Birkins full of Blackberries (full disclosure: I may not be an expert on the intricacies of Hollywood), they’re supposed to behave like the collective girl next door and we’re supposed to fall for it and easily imagine they’re our BFFs. Gwyneth’s reality is so out of reach for us – something she is acutely aware of, P.S. – that she breaks this #1 rule of celebrity by not giving us plebs the opportunity to feel like we’d ever be invited over for a raw quinoa feast around her salvaged oak occasion table to celebrate Moses’ graduation from his Steiner preschool. 

But you know what? That’s okay. 

Gwyneth been wealthy and privileged her whole life and she refuses to apologise for it. And that’s what really makes people angry. When Anne Hathaway issues a public apology because sassy bloggers didn’t like her Oscars dress (which was more than a little “Gwyneth for Shakespeare in Love”, just sayin’), it gives the Negative Nancy squad more ammunition. They see the effect their criticisms have and it feeds the fire in them. Gwyneth infuriates people because she could care less what you think about the Country Strong soundtrack. 

Gwyneth fangirled like the rest of us would have while working with Anjelica Huston on The Royal Tenenbaums; she was instrumental in getting getting Sylvia funded and produced; she counts Brad Pitt and Ben Affleck amongst her beaus (before any of their respective Jennifers came on the scene); she listens to N.W.A. and Public Enemy to unwind during photoshoots; she participated in a sweet interaction with a fan on the morning of 9/11 that wound up saving that person’s life; and she’s honest about the reality of what she puts in her body. Unlike other size 0 actresses, Gwynny does not, in an effort to be likeable, proclaim to shove pizza and burgers in her mouth every day like "one of the boys". Instead, we know she's liable to throw back a few too many beers one night, indulge in a regular inhalation of nicotine, then undo a bit of the damage with persnickety eating. She’s a human person – one who might only be more well-liked if she were to lie for the sake of appeasing critics. 

The criticisms leveled at Gwyneth read like little more than jealous jibing at this point. Her positive traits - acting talents, shiny hair and ability to rap along to Straight Outta Compton - are overlooked because she started a website where she outlines the positive ways she’s improved her own life and offers suggestions for willing people to do the same. When Zach Braff’s efforts to disrupt the traditional studio system by crowd-sourcing another movie about a guy with feelings are met with literally millions of dollars, and notorious poor-career-decision-maker (FutureSex/LoveSounds can not make us forget about The Love Guru or the denim suit) Justin Timberlake becomes the 14th man to join Saturday Night Live’s 16-person strong “Five-Timers Club” it’s not too much to ask that – as well as being a little kinder and less nasty to our female celebrities – we hold these bros up to the same standard as we do women like Gwyneth, Kristen, J-Lo and A-Jo. 

It’s easier to criticise female celebrities because it’s easier to criticise females in general; they (and we) are expected to fulfill the roles of mother, wife, sister, girlfriend, colleague, workmate and role model, and to do so effortlessly. When one of us slips up – by shamelessly name-dropping her friendship with Hova (like you wouldn’t) or by suggesting you should eat certain foods to make your poop more regular – let’s try not to tear her to shreds over it. Or, I mean, keep hating on Gwynny if you remain unconvinced – she don’t give a goop. She’s got a macrobiotic dinner to prepare for Apple and Blue Ivy and you’re just in her way.

(Images via Getty)

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8 comments so far..

  • Mercy's avatar
    Commenter
    Mercy
    Date and time
    Monday 29 Apr 2013 - 6:20 PM
    Ms Paltrow should stick to acting (which she's not bad at). Not amateur self-help/cooking/relationship/exercise advice.

    Like some latter day Marie Antoinette she walks amonsgt us plebs trying to 'inspire' us to be 'better' people by buying into every fashionable food/exercise/body shape/navel gazing practise there is. There is nothing less inspiring than the phenomenally lucky telling us to pull our socks up in the narcissism department. Its the reason why rags to riches or powerless to powerful stories are, in contrast, genuinely inspiring. Pretty rich famous white girl becomes pretty rich famous white woman hardly cuts it. She should realise this. As should her publishers.

    But I suppose the pampered ego knows no bounds.

    And on she'll go.
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  • sydchick's avatar
    Commenter
    sydchick
    Date and time
    Monday 29 Apr 2013 - 10:17 PM
    DefenSe?????????????????? Come on!
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  • Matheus's avatar
    Commenter
    Matheus
    Date and time
    Tuesday 30 Apr 2013 - 9:08 AM
    So what? It isn't her fault how rich, pretty, famous she is. Maybe she doesn't want to inspire, maybe she just wants to offer help. Well some people like you would rather ram it back down her throat just because you aren't who she is. Some people like advice, why else would women spend so much on fad diets, self help, blah blah blah. You sound like you'd rest women's ails on her shoulders. Get over it, as I suspect she may also think.
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  • Mercy's avatar
    Commenter
    Mercy
    Date and time
    Tuesday 30 Apr 2013 - 9:29 AM
    Dear Matheus; if she just wanted to help people (rather than raise her profile, make money soothe her own ego etc) she could quietly volunteer in her local nursing home.

    Also; I don't know how you could possibly conclude that I would want to rest all women's ails on Gwyneth's shoulders from my comment. A bizarre, hyperventilating conclusion indeed. Gwyneth is annoying. Not the cause of all women's problems.

    I suggest you get over it. Start by slowing your breathing down.
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  • Lola Marie's avatar
    Commenter
    Lola Marie
    Date and time
    Tuesday 30 Apr 2013 - 11:02 AM
    People seem to bring a lot of their own baggage to the question of Gwyneth. Baggage about how they look, how much money they have, who they are friends with. There is way too much judgment on the internet about her. The main criticism I have of her is that she purports to be a 'private' person and yet to publicise her book we have heard all about her miscarriage, her marriage, her hard times, her children eating Oreos, her nether bits (see the dress above) etc. It's hypocritical.

    I happen to think her acting is passable at best but I have both her cookbooks and they are fantastic. Yes she is enthusiastic about food, and so she can come across as a bit of zealot but in that she is no different to any of the MANY healthy living writers \ bloggers etc out there. I have never heard her say she knows better than anyone else. What she says is that this is the way she cooks and eats, and it works for her so hey, why don't you try it. Most of the criticisms of her food \ diet are made by people who seem to be completely ignorant of the facts (Mercy above - have you actually read any of her cookbooks?). She does drink alchohol, she does eat meat, she does eat dairy etc. What she does is go on cleanses where she tries to eat in a way which is basically vegan. Many many people advocate doing this occassionally. It's not rocket science, it's not particularly original, but her recipes are easy, tasty and my family like them.

    And frankly, if even a small percentage of the population of US in particular are inspired by her fame \ celebrity etc to give her cooking a go, that has got to be a good outcome.

    There you go. That is a defence of GP.
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  • Matheus's avatar
    Commenter
    Matheus
    Date and time
    Tuesday 30 Apr 2013 - 2:02 PM
    You know Mercy, things that are done quietly, you wouldn't hear about. So if she wanted, or in fact did, help people quietly, you wouldn't know. hmmmmm. It's you who is rushing to your hyperventilating judgments of her, and how she just isn't inspiring enough to inspire you like the rags to riches people. Maybe she is just who she is, and oh and how people love to cut her up for it. Perhaps she should instead be exactly what you want her to be. Oh that's right, she can't, because she was already rich and famous, oh yes pretty too. And you are only inspired by ugly duckilings to swans. We're not worthy!!
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  • Malcolmbear's avatar
    Commenter
    Malcolmbear
    Date and time
    Monday 13 May 2013 - 12:48 PM
    So it's not OK to prank-call a hospital and speak to some nurses whilst pretending to be the queen (!) but it is OK to hate someone you've never met, you've never spoken to and your only opinions have been formed by the gossip mags I'm sure you all claim you don't read.
    And apparently it's even more OK when this hate is reserved for anonymous comments on the internet. What a bunch of hypocrites!
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  • Wayin's avatar
    Commenter
    Wayin
    Date and time
    Tuesday 14 May 2013 - 8:44 AM
    The universe of our soul holds a key to finding truth in us though sometimes Paradoxical to our desires.

    If it walks like a duck, sounds like a duck and it looks like a duck, it most certainly will not be a snake.

    Some self reflection maybe necessary girls.

    There is a simple explanation for Gwyneth’s Altair.

    Darkness is no match.
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