Pop Culture

Gwyneth Paltrow: She pretty

Even before she won her Oscar, Gwyneth Paltrow was Hollywood royalty — the child of a lovely patrician actress and a producer of interesting, critically praised TV shows. But she hasn’t just lazed about, drawing on her trust fund of fame: she’s made a name for herself by dating her co-stars; dressing so well that she’s considered a fashion icon; talking about her trendy hobbies, from yoga to her macrobiotic diet to “cupping”; and now for marrying a rock star, giving birth to their child, and naming her after produce. Oh, and she hasn’t made a good movie since “Shakespeare in Love.” Is it any wonder that the world has turned on her? And is there anything she can do, at this point, to win us back?

Tara Ariano
I should hate Gwyneth Paltrow. I know I should. I mean, for God’s sake, look at our archives, here, Sar – I hate everybody. But for some reason, I still like her.

I have read countless interviews with her where she bragged about how everyone who has long blonde hair is just copying her, and how she’s been effortlessly stylish since birth, and hinting at what a chump Ben Affleck was when he was her boyfriend. I saw her on “Oprah” last month, busting out all that self-deprecation I could tell was completely fake. And when she said that she went to a film premiere in that shirt that showed off her cupping bruises because she forgot? I am so sure.

But I somehow can’t hate her, and for one simple reason: she’s so pretty!

Sarah D. Bunting
Ew.

All right, she’s not hideous. She can look very lovely, you’re right; in the “Sky Captain” promos, she’s fabulous. But might I remind you of a certain Academy Awards outfit worn by Her Prettiness, the miserable Pepto-pink one that didn’t fit right — which she accessorized with embarrassing blubbering at the podium?

I see I don’t have to remind you of the cupping bruises, the showing off of which is a classic seventh-grade-at-girls’-school attention-whore stunt, but it doesn’t end there. She wears ponchos. On purpose. “Effortlessly” I’ll give her, especially in the split-ends department, because girlfriend needs a trim. “Stylish,” my Aunt Fanny.

It’s weird, though — I don’t dislike her movies (although I generally try to avoid them), and I don’t dislike her in them. I mean, I saw “Bounce” in the theater — paid to see it, even — and the movie is boring and dumb, but she’s good in it. She’s good in “Possession,” too; it takes a pretty strong actress to hold her own against Jeremy Northam’s Mike Nesmithian wig in that movie, and she does. She’s a little overrated, I think, and she should stop doing dreck like “View from the Top” posthaste, but she’s solid.

It’s her I don’t like, at all. She’s bony, she’s smug, and she named her child Apple. Apple, T-Bone. What kind of sadist saddles the fruit of her loins (if you’ll pardon the pun) with an invitation to get stuffed into lockers until she’s in college?

Also, she dated Ben Affleck, and if his last paramour is any indication, he likes ’em bitchy. Reeeeeeally bitchy.

Tara
Sarah. I don’t think you’re hearing me. I know everything you are saying, and I do not dispute that it’s true.

I’m sure if I were ever at a party with Paltrow (which I wouldn’t be, because she doesn’t eat and I don’t smoke, so there’s no soirée possible that could accommodate us both), I would want to punch her after about two minutes’ worth of conversational filibustering, on her part, about how she came up with the idea of wearing white blouses and jeans. If she can be this annoying to the world from her distant and elevated position, getting a full dose of her at close range…well, it’s like nuclear radiation, probably, and I’d surely need a “Silkwood” shower and a course of antibiotics and that still wouldn’t guarantee that my children wouldn’t end up with birth defects.

Normally, I’m instantly turned off by people — especially celebrities — who really love themselves beyond all reasonable measure, and there are few stars more enamoured of their own unique awesomeness than Paltrow. And that’s just her attitude; when you add in the things she actually does — the Apple-naming and the pretentious Chinese medicine-touting and the poor posture and the ill-fitting Oscar dress-wearing and on and on and on — I mean, she is obviously irritating.

I know this.

But here’s the thing.

She’s pretty.

Sarah
Not pretty enough. She’s often unkempt, and she’s just too pointy, and even if she did use a decent conditioner and stand up straight now and then, it still wouldn’t override the fact that she behaves as though she invented acting and stardom — when she had her career handed to her. True, she has enough talent to have kept that career going on her own, but the story about how “Uncle Stevie” Spielberg got her a part in “Hook” is still sick-making.

And the whole “Shallow Hal” thing — Gwyneth wears the fat suit out to a bar, for “research”! Gwyneth gets ignored and treated rudely as a result! Gwyneth discovers a new compassion for the differently weighted! The rest of us could have reached the same conclusions about how unfairly society treats the overweight by either thinking about the issue for 30 seconds or, you know, living in the world, but when Gwyneth comments on it, it’s an insight? Please. I spent some years as an actual fat girl; I shouldn’t have to care what a snotty twig who did it for three lousy hours thinks.

I know you don’t care about that either, because she’s pretty, which is fine. I irrationally love Manson Lamps Jolie for the same reason. But I suspect that Paltrow has spent most of her life banking on the pretty — getting away with stuck-up behavior and doing “The Pallbearer” because she can really turn out a suit.

The thing is, though, looks fade, and she ought to button her lip about fat people and stop doing bloated bio-pics about overwrought poets before her frown lines get too deep.

Tara
I know you’re right. I want to hate her. My entire body and spirit are in revolt at the fact that I don’t. But I don’t, and the only reason I can think of is…

Sarah
…that she's pretty. Yeah. In an attic somewhere in Bel Air, there’s a portrait of her that's all shriveled and warty, but hey, suit yourself.

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