What If Gwyneth Paltrow Is Merely a Mirror of Our Own Obnoxiousness?

It is a given that 40-year-old actress Gwyneth Paltrow—mother of Apple and Moses, wife of Chris Martin, son of Blythe and Bruce—is annoying. That said, reading “Gwyneth Paltrow’s Most Obnoxious Food Quotes” in The Savory this week, all  I could think was how much she just sounded exactly like a lot of people I know.

I wondered: do we all hate Gwyneth because she’s really that horrible, or do we all hate Gwyneth because we are all really that horrible?

Let’s listen to Gwyneth for a few minutes, and, in doing so, listen to ourselves.

“We have great dinner parties at which everyone sits around talking about politics, history, art and literature—all this peppered with really funny jokes. But back in America, I was at a party and a girl looked at me and said, ‘Oh, my God! Are those Juicy jeans that you’re wearing?’ and I thought, I can’t stay here. I have to get back to Europe.”

Granted, “I have to get back to Europe” is obnoxious. The immediacy of it—like if she doesn’t leave right away she could be kidnapped and forced to work at a water park. Also, I would like to know where all these funny Europeans Gwyneth is talking about are, because I never met one. Still, Gwyneth hardly invented Euro-Worship. At least once a day I hear some upper middle class white person between 30-45 talking about how much better Europe is than the United States, and how people are so much more intellectual than they are here, how wonderful it is that French people have authors on television instead of Kim Kardashian and how amazing their vegetables are and they don’t have GMOs there and blah blah blah.

“I’d rather smoke crack than eat cheese from a tin.”

Mostly my problem with this is the crack. Are you smoking crack, Gwyneth? It’s a mystery that “I’d rather do x than smoke crack” jokes still exist, and it’s even more perplexing that people still laugh at them. As far as the cheese snobbery goes, well, do you eat cheese from a tin? Would you? I highly doubt it. Have you ever said, “Oh my God, who even eats Cheeze Whiz anymore?” I bet money you have. Good thing for you no one writes down what you say and prints it.

“My daughter gravitates toward fresh fruit and raw nuts but will inhale a bag of hot Cheetos at the airport. It’s all about balance.”

Gravitate is not a verb that helps Gwyneth out very much here, but the content is pretty standard. Seriously, have you ever talked to parents of young kids before and heard them talk about, well, anything, other than what they feed their kids principally and what they feed their kids for treats, and how it’s all about …yes, balance. And don’t they love a good self-deprecating giggle about how their adorable and essentially extremely healthy little monsters ate a whole bag of those really expensive potato chips when they weren’t looking or how “Cooper drank orange soda, at some place where there were poor people, and now he wants it all the time, and so we’ve tried to convince him that fresh squeezed orange juice and seltzer are the same thing!” I heard that once. I added the part about the poor people, but that’s basically what the person said. And no. It wasn’t Gwyneth.

Gwyneth on her last meal: “Oysters and cocktail sauce, and then a baked, stuffed lobster and french fries. I would have a baguette and a cheese course for my dessert, and red wine. I drank like crazy [when the kids were babies]. How else could I get through my day?” 

When parents of young children aren’t filling you on what they feed them, they can generally be depended upon to be humble-bragging about how much they drink or smoke pot. And it’s not just parents.  It begins in college and then never stops—upper middle class white people ages 30-45 can’t really think of any way to reasonably funny about the stress in their lives without talking about how much they drink or smoke pot and, if they are not currently doing a lot, how much they used to do, in addition to cocaine. 

I am not sure if anyone thinks her idea of a last meal is annoying. I think it sounds good. The cheese course is a bit precious, maybe, but there are a lot of people who hate Gwyneth who actually think nothing of suggesting a sweetish craft beer for dessert, so, I think they can kind of blow her, right?

“We basically can’t live without Vegenaise—it’s a little out of control.”

The annoying thing here (other than Vegenaise, which, full disclosure, I fucking love, too!) is the idea that the most banal thing in the world is out of control. Gwyneth is a married woman with a lot of money and children, and yet—and I know it’s just a figure of speech, but the implication is there—she is suggesting that somehow, still, there’s something interesting and even subversive and alternative going on in her life, for which the Veganaise is only a symbol.  We could hate her for this if the mythology of every family  (“It’s a little out of control how much our everyone—even my dad!—loves Pretty Little Liars“) and friendship (“When we get together, it is so out of control like, how much we party”) didn’t place similar dependence on this idea of being somehow weird and quirky even as they do the exact same things other people are doing, in the millions.

 

Sarah Miller is the author of Inside the Mind of Gideon Rayburn and The Other Girl. She lives in Nevada City, CA.

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