I’ve tried to like Gwyneth Paltrow. Really, I have.
When I first heard news of baby Moses , I didn’t scoff or criticize. I struggled to remember the good times. I tried to remind myself of her many likable qualities.
Her hair is blonde and silky, for one. What's not to like about that? And she was adorable in “Shakespeare in Love.” (Remember Joe Fiennes, ardently kissing her little faux-‘stache?) And although I did not see that stewardess movie, it did look plenty cute and colorful and kitschy, like something I truly might have enjoyed. Sure, some people call her a snob, but my friends call me a snob when I suggest restaurants with waiters, so perhaps it’s all relative.
Still, when it comes down to it, the birth of Moses brings me back to a few inescapable facts. There are simply some eternal counterpoints to the silky hair and the ‘stache and the fun stewardess movie, items that burrow inside my head and, though I struggle valiantly, repeatedly turn my lukewarm somewhat-liking of Gwyneth into cold, steely resentment.
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Fact:Gwyneth Paltrow is the kind of girl who ditched sixth-grade slumber parties so she could be fresh for early morning equestrian lessons.
Fact:Were you to invite Gwyneth Paltrow over for lunch, she would bring her own macrobiotic food in Tupperware containers, decline your silverware and tell you that your new pants are "slimming."
Fact:Gwyneth Paltrow thinks you're immature for still laughing at “Brokeback Mountain” jokes.
In short, whatever the glossy celeb magazines may tell you, Gwyneth is not “just like us.”
I’ll admit that I had hopes of Gwyneth being just like me a few weeks ago, when the tabloids splashed her prenatal imbibing all over their covers — “Celebrities! They drink while pregnant!” After all, doing something bad and getting in trouble for it is the great human equalizer.
If only someone told us ...
But before I could say, “Gwyneth, you naughty little boozehound!,” reassure her that I sometimes chase antibiotics with a beer against doctor’s orders and wait for her to schedule a self-effacing turn on “Saturday Night Live,” she shakes her finger at me, informs me that having a Guinness is what all the knocked-up Europeans are doing. The iron is good for the baby. If more Americans traveled to the Continent we would know that. And, by the by, why are we Americans so puritanical? And provincial? And obsessed with celebrities in general? Is it because we’re so fat? Gwyneth hates to say it, but she thinks that might have a lot to do with it.
And look. It has happened again, I'm back in the hateful place.
Fact:Gwyneth Paltrow knows that she can kick back a handle of Jägermeister every night and still produce a child better-looking and smarter than your own.
I really thought I was getting to like Gwyneth back in 2000. That’s when it became clear that — despite that vanilla, to-the-manor-born exterior — she had made the rounds of Hollywood’s frat boys like a 40 oz. down on the Greenpoint docks.
From Brad Pitt to Ben Affleck to Luke Wilson, it was a delight to watch Gwyn date. Brad called her his “angel.” They wore matching hairstyles. And you just know that Ben called home and said, “Ma, I’m seeing a real lady.”
When each relationship inevitably crumbled, I waited for Gwyneth to be “just like me.” To show up at Brad’s house, tear-stained and wearing footie pajamas. Or perhaps drunk-dial Oprah, or rebound with someone wildly inappropriate — like Flavor Flav.
Sadly, it was not to be. A few years ago, a reporter asked Gwyneth to give her candid opinion on the relationships of her ex-loves, particularly Ben Affleck (It was the time of the Bennifer). Once again, I remember pulling for Gwyneth and hoping, for her sake, that she’d take the low road just this once, perhaps say something pithy and disparaging, maybe even call J-Lo, “J-Ho”. Heh.
It would have been like the last day of school before a long vacation, when your strictest teacher does something uncharacteristically cool — lets you listen to music or sit next to your best friend. You know that teacher is going to be the same tight-lipped drill sergeant next semester, but you’ll always remember this day and secretly like her a little more because of it.
But no. With Gwyneth it’s all “discretion” and starting sentences with “my husband and I” and “wishing everyone the best.” (Except when she is tut-tutting Brad and Jen for being too public with their relationship, and thus incurring an Angelina Jolie-shaped misfortune which — in ancient cultures — was the typical punishment for hubris.) I bet Gwyneth pronounces “hubris” as “yu-bris” because “h”s are so common.
Fact:Gwyneth Paltrow is the teacher who says, “This is the last day of school, not the first day of summer vacation.”
It feels downright cruel to pick on Gwyneth on the birth of her first son — especially if you prefer her quiet self-righteousness to the recent antics of certain loud, needy, attention-seeking celebrity breeders. She hasn't jumped on a couch, she hasn't cluttered my US Weekly with third-world photo ops and she's generally eschewed publicity and made good on her professed desire to maintain a low profile.
Damn you, moderation!
Still, at the end of the day, I like my celebrities like the band Confederate Railroad likes their women: just a little on the trashy side.
How I would love to see Gwyneth rip up a hotel room, flash innocent children at the Kids’ Choice awards, have regrettable relations with the help or, just once, forget that Apple’s car seat is on top of the car, and then get home and be really embarrassed about it and hope that no one saw — because, really, that’s just a terrible thing to forget. (Celebrities! They endanger their children!)
But alas, as the years go by, Gwyneth continues to offend me with her moderation and restraint — two qualities I inherently distrust in celebrities. Two qualities that send a message: ”I don't need your money, or your love,” a message which seems, well, sort of insincere, particularly when it is conveyed through highly publicized interviews or photo spreads in Vanity Fair.
Fact:Gwyneth Paltrow knows your Prada bag is fake. She won’t say so to your face, but she’ll laugh about it the next time she sees Madonna.
I’ve tried to like you, Gwyneth, I really have. But you’d do well to take a page from the books of Simpson and Lohan. There is still time to become a woman of the people. Get loaded at Scores. Name your next child Jamie-Lynn. Who knows, a show of pathological neediness could even persuade me to see “Sylvia: The Sequel.”
Paige Ferrari is a freelance writer in New York City. She maintains a Gwyneth-free blog at make-you-hmmm.blogspot.com.
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