An Open Letter to Gwyneth PaltrowPosted: August 6, 2011
After watching ‘Shakespeare in Love’ I for some reason decided that, despite my life-long delight in disliking you, I suddenly didn’t hate you and your incessant need to suck in your bottom lip in against your teeth thereby creating a great impression of a duck.
Elated by the relief of having one less thing to hate in a life otherwise marked by unpredictable acts of rage fuelled violence, I decided to explore these new found feelings of neutrality towards you by looking at your website GOOP. Although my eye began to twitch upon the sight of your website motto ‘nourish the inner aspect’ I forged ahead, convinced that I would be able to follow what I assume to be a dictum of inner-peace.
I had recently heard that GOOP had been criticised for being out of touch with the everyday folk and that you had hit back by saying that people who didn’t like it just didn’t really ‘get it’, “people like people to stay in their ‘box’ – they like people to stay how they are comfortable seeing them.”
That’s true. I do like people to stay how I am comfortable seeing them. I once saw someone how I wasn’t comfortable seeing them and I didn’t like it at all. Not one bit.
I also like people to stay in their boxes. Especially that little Vietnamese kid I bought to do chores around my house. Apparently once the toilets are clean little whatshisface thinks it’s play time (I don’t know his name, I just click my fingers or say something racist. He likes it.) No it isn’t Charlie, it’s time to get back in your damn box. I didn’t pay a bag of rice for you to just wander about my house listlessly due to malnutrition and borderline depression, with your unpredictable swaying and swooning threatening to knock over several of my breakables. You know what I’m talking about, right Gwyn?
So anyway, I was totally with you, Gwyneth. I was ready for the journey to my inner aspect where I would nourish it with food, a foot massage or maybe we’d just sit and laugh wearing cuddly yet fashionable knitwear. I hadn’t decided. Imagine my shock when I was met with what appeared to be merely a cataloguing of your favorite up-scale restaurants and hotels, your favorite clothes and knick knacks, your favorite macrobiotic recipes and recollections of your various wealth-fuelled experiences.
The thing that bothers me about this is, not that you’re rich and can afford these things- it’s the seeming obliviousness that other people can’t. You say that your suggestions for purchases cover all price ranges and certainly, yes, there are things that I could afford to buy. For instance the $50 personalised ‘Smythson’ notebook, or the $24.74 set of bamboo utensils which as is so rightly pointed out is ‘eco-friendly and great for picnics’, or the $45 cashmere socks from Barneys. I could even bust out and get the $149 Flip camcorder. But ultimately the only thing I would end up filming would be a heart-wrenching documentary about my life as a homeless person, my only possessions in the world being a notebook, wooden cutlery and a pair of socks.
You see my income is currently about $170 dollars a week. So in order for me to buy a notebook, pair of socks, bamboo utensils and a camcorder I would actually have to sacrifice almost 2 weeks pay in order to afford them. Now all of this would be fine, the gourmet suggestions, luxury items, my impending homelessness, if it weren’t for the fact that you seem to pretend like everyone should be able, not only to afford this stuff, but to have it as a priority.
The entire website seems not to be devoted to disseminating useful advice and wisdom to women en masse (as you claim), rather it seems to me that the only target audience who might actually find the website useful are such a minority (of what essentially would have to be rich socialites, millionaire business people, celebrities and the like) that its relevance really begins to dwindle for about 90% of the world’s population.
At this point I really began to doubt whether this website is about the fact that you feel “like I have a lot of good information that women want to know” so much as it is about the second half of this quote “and I want to share”.
It calls to mind a part of Lewis Carroll’s ‘Hunting of the Snark’:
“This was charming, no doubt; but they shortly found out
That the Captain they trusted so well
Had only one notion for crossing the ocean,
And that was to tingle his bell.”
Indeed this entire project seems to be some sort of homage to yourself, a tribute to your own life in all its wealthy extravagance, its fabulousness, its frivolous whimsy, that you yourself cannot help but be charmed by. A life whereby everything is so delightfully darling and kitsch that you have become impressed by its majesty to the point where it would be a crime for you not to share such facts about yourself, such as:
“When I was ten years old, my father and I took a trip to Paris…My dad believed in one-on-one time with us, and sometimes that extended to a weekend away. We stayed at a great hotel and he said I could order whatever I wanted for breakfast (French fries).”
“To begin with, Mario served a beautiful Spanish cheese, Torta del Casar, with grissini (Italian breadsticks), crostini with tomato and boquerones (Spanish anchovies prepared in vinegar), and cold white wine. Then we sat down to an incredible meal and a brilliant Elvis impersonation by Emeril’s six-year-old son.”
As much as I am enthralled by a breakfast you once had when you were ten and the supposed impersonating talents of a six year old, this once again gives me the impression that this website is simply an excuse for you to share the parts of your life that you find scintillatingly charming and unique. I can’t seem to get the image out of my mind of you tippy tapping away at your key board with a little half smile and the occasional titter of laughter as you recall some amusing anecdote about how in London you used to go “get pizza before or after going to the movies which were just down the street”.
Now Gwyneth, please allow me to break this fantasy that other people find your life as riveting as you do and indeed that your life is special and unique- we all had breakfasts during the tenth year of our lives and we have all had to laugh politely at the antics of a child who has been indulged too much by their parents. A six year old doing an Elvis impersonation isn’t fascinating unless you’re talking about how hilarious is must be to see a child with limited motor skills attempting to move like a man famous for his ability to dance.
You see what frustrates me about your website, Gwyneth, is that it maintains this pretence both to originality and to commonality- that this shit firstly is not in one way or another experienced by other people and secondly that it actually relates to and has meaning for other people’s lives. It may sound like I’m contradicting myself by saying that everyone has these experiences and yet you sharing yours doesn’t relate to other people but allow me to make a distinction. It relates to people on the basic level that other people eat breakfast, have friends and parents and like to do things- it fails to relate to people however by virtue of that fact that nobody actually cares about the minute details of your life and your experiences whose only differentiation are due to your extraordinary wealth and are therefore out of almost everybody’s reach.
It irritates me that you continue to pretend that this isn’t essentially a project of self-indulgence, that you’re not simply cataloguing your likes on the internet. No, instead you hold onto the pretense that what you’re saying actually will be of practical use to a plethora of people as is shown in your constant appeals to the masses, “I need to lose a few pounds of holiday excess. Anyone else?”, “Like most of us ladies out there, we are also attempting to balance it all.” and of course “I think we all begin the new year with thoughts of things we would like to improve, learn, be more disciplined about, cut out of our diets.” after which you advise us that “The sticktoitivness is what it is all about.” Whatever the fuck that actually means. I can’t even say it. I am hoping however that it’s some new kind of terrible disease that causes massive weight loss as opposed to you inventing a new synonym for dedication that is so irritating it caused me to perplexedly and angrily scratch my head so hard that I suffered temporary brain damage.
You see all of this would suggest that you feel that your experiences are on par with most other people’s with absolutely no recognition of what makes your life different and therefore a hell of a lot easier than most other’s. That is, your money. This you only seem to recognize when you want to recount something you feel makes you special as an individual. So please stop trying to relate to me on some common level whilst continually asserting how much better you are at life than me. It’s condescending and dickish.
Essentially this is what it comes down to- I am very happy that you are rich and live your life according to your income. That is great, do that. I am not even asking you to be socially conscientious and forego your wealth- I am simply asking that you acknowledge that most other people living in this world are not millionaires and that your website is therefore essentially designed for people like you. I am also asking that you realize that your life and all the wonderful things in it are things that have been given to you by virtue of chance. There is nothing special about you as an individual that means that you deserve this money or life. There are plenty of wonderful people who are poor and plenty of dickish people who are rich. You having all these experiences simply means you are lucky, not that you deserve them actually happening to you.
Allow me to quote Tyler Durden and say “You are not special. You are not a beautiful or unique snowflake. You’re the same decaying organic matter as everything else.”
So in response to your defense of your website and your claim that those who dislike it simply don’t get it or that it shakes their fundamental belief system to their core despite you not actually presenting anything new, I would actually suggest to you that people don’t like it because it seems to betray how oblivious you are to the reality that most of us live in whilst positing that you yourself have the wisdom to better this reality of which you are wholly unaware.
And what frustrates me even more Gwynnie, is that despite all of this money, all of these experiences and all of this opportunity this is all you have to offer me by way of personal wisdom:
“What is holiday spirit? For me, it means helping to create that atmosphere where loved ones feel full of cheer, like some happy secret is about to be revealed. Holiday spirit is a feeling of warmth, of togetherness, of connectedness. We get that by giving.”
This is not new Gwyn. This is basically what we’re told since childhood. So this is not what the holiday spirit means to you, it is what it means to everyone who celebrates the holidays and has been fed this shit since birth. But let’s have another go…
“They say oysters are an aphrodisiac but as shucking a raw one can be lethal, I steam mine just until they open and I can easily pry off the shell.”
This is also not new. This is a basic cooking technique. Next…
“I cringe when I add cupfuls of sugar to sweeten things, so instead I add agave syrup to this lovely spiced drink and it works beautifully.”
I fucking hate you. Try again.
“I absolutely love these buckwheat and banana pancakes, which I came up with when making breakfast for a friend who doesn’t eat eggs or dairy and doesn’t love wheat.”
I googled buckwheat and banana pancakes and got 169,000 hits. You didn’t make this up and even if you did, someone did it before you. P.S. Your friend is a dick. Next.
“As much as I am a product of many places, I am a New York girl through and through. I did most of my growing up in this glorious city and it is a part of who I am. I was an uptown kid and a downtown grownup and this duality helps define me.”
Living in two different parts of one city does not give you duality. Being an immigrant or a refugee or a slave or a fucking transvestite gives you duality. You’re testing my patience. Sure to fuck you have something better than this…
“…you do not need to have children to benefit from these ladies’ amazing insights. Simply regard yourself as the child we are asking about, no matter your age, and see what comes up for you. And if I can humbly add one small idea to their thoughts…it has been my personal experience (both as a child and a mother) that children are like little radios picking up our frequency. They know the real truth about what we are feeling versus what we are presenting and it is incredibly isolating to find a major discrepancy between the two. When in my grown-up sphere I am confronted with disappointment or my own intolerance and a bad mood to boot, I often name what is going on (in other words, I say, “Mommy is having a hard day, and I am feeling upset”) so that the very mundane human “bad” feelings do not turn into some grim phantom in the room with me. Sometimes I don’t have the maturity in the moment, and when it fails me, I apologize at bedtime when my children and I are having a talk. I have felt my daughter’s whole body sigh in relief when I have simply and very specifically voiced regretting my own behavior. Here’s to doing the best we can.”
You are such a cocksucker I swear to fuck. Children being perceptive is not a new thought you fish stick. It’s a commonly known universal truth. Your experiences are not special. You have nothing new to offer. I don’t have children but if I did I would probably do almost exactly the same shit you have said. Do you know why Gwyneth? Because that’s what people do. Not because you’ve said it, but because it’s basic common sense. You won’t get many people recommending that when you’re having a bad day you give your kid a backhander and then lock them in the cellar whilst screaming abuse at them. So please, once again, recognize that this shit is not wisdom, it’s common fucking knowledge.
Anything else, you twat?
“the unsure morality [of some random book] was somehow reassuring. It was okay to be figuring out one’s own sense of right and wrong. In fact, it was one of life’s great endeavors.”
Was. Of course. Because now you know everything.
So…let me get this straight, essentially you’re saying that your website is so innovative that it undermines our basic beliefs systems and challenges people’s understanding of the world and this is why they criticize it, and yet the height of your recycled wisdom is that children know when people are upset and oyster shells are sharp.
I was reading Freud the other day Gwyneth (his introductory lectures on psychoanalysis) and he was expressing much the same sentiment- that people resisted his work because they couldn’t step outside their own worlds. He was, however, actually saying something new. This man was suggesting that we have unconscious minds and that these unconscious minds want to have sex with our parents. You are suggesting that people should substitute sugar with agave syrup. Can you see the difference?
Your complete lack of anything mildly unusual is best epitomized by your holiday destination list which exhaustively lists such exotic hideaways as London, Paris, New York and LA. Wow. I would never have thought of going to those places. Thanks for the insight. You’re right, the information on this website scares the shit out of me. London as a holiday destination? Mother of god. Why?! WHY?! HIDE YOUR CHILDREN!
I’m not even going to start on your fashion section because god knows I would kill either you or me and it’s been my personal experience that once you die from a shotgun wound to the face you can’t really come back to life. (I don’t know if many people know that.)
Also just from me to you, when people are sad they excrete salt water from their eyes. These are called tears. Tell your friends.
So Gwyneth in summary I would like to give you some basic points:
1. You are not special simply because you are you.
2. You are rich and famous, this is why you have unique experiences.
3. No one else cares about these experiences.
4. No one relates to these experiences beyond basic human commonality.
5. You do not have any particular wisdom to relate. Your knowledge is basic common sense of which most of us possess.
6. Putting in a random swear word or an exclamation of “You rock!” or “sicko wine list” does not make you relevant or daring.
7. You anger me because you seem to believe the opposite of all the above and your website is a testament to this.
I could applaud your work with the charity ‘Bent on Learning’ but seeing as it’s a program dedicated to putting yoga into New York public schools, I think I’ll instead use both my hands to unceremoniously flip you the double bird. You see even when it comes to charity you fuck it up and alienate people.
So with that I leave you Gwyn. Here’s hoping you gain some perspective and admit that you just like being rich and want to talk about it instead of pretending that your diet abundant in broccoli and avocado has made you a better person than everybody else.
Best Wishes (sort of),