You Cannot Cancel Gwyneth Paltrow Because Gwyneth Paltrow Is Mother
Back in the Paleolithic era of the internet, aka the late 2010s, it was highly fashionable to hate on Gwyneth Paltrow. She was a constant punchline for late-night talk show wags. Health experts would regularly profess shock and disgust at the medical misinformation Paltrow peddled on her luxury website Goop, while media outlets breathlessly wrote up every ludicrous product, from vagina-scented candles to psychic vampire repellent sprays, that she’d recommend. She was simultaneously dismissed as an out-of-touch celebrity and held up as an eminent danger to society.
In the post-Covid landscape, however, everything has changed. Goop is a multimillion-dollar company, and Paltrow is regularly heralded as a scrappy, savvy, self-made entrepreneur; she even recently served as a guest on Shark Tank, advising entrepreneur hopefuls who did not have the benefit of attending one of New York’s most eminent private schools or being the daughter of a famous director. She’s leaned into her own image as an out-of-touch celebutante, sending it up on Saturday Night Live and in her ultra-campy turn as an out-of-touch celebutante mom on Ryan Murphy’s The Politician. Even the medical misinformation seems almost harmless in retrospect: when influencers are regularly hyping up the Covid-fighting powers of horse asshole cream, jade vagina eggs seem quaint in comparison.
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These days, making fun of Gwyneth Paltrow seems boomer-esque and faintly embarrassing, like texting someone a Bitmoji or saying “lol” in casual conversation. In a cultural ecosystem where celebrities — particularly well-connected, white celebrities — are constantly expected to acknowledge and apologize for their own privilege, her unblinking refusal to do so makes it almost impossible to dislike her. And somehow, now that a 78-year-old former optometrist is suing her for allegedly causing him traumatic brain injury after a skiing accident, people like her even more. She is the one acceptable rich white woman, the rare Karen who has achieved self-awareness. Even when she defends being a nepo-baby by saying they “have to work almost twice as hard and be twice as good because people are ready to pull you down and say you don’t belong there,” we find it clueless and adorable, like when a straight guy goes out to get tampons for his girlfriend and comes back with 40 onions and a box of Saran wrap.
A brief summary of the current legal proceedings, even though it scarcely matters: in 2016, Paltrow collided with retired optometrist Terry Sanderson on the ski slopes of a Utah country club, causing him a “permanent traumatic brain injury” and “four broken ribs” in the process, as he would allege three years later in a $3.1 million lawsuit. (That figure was later reduced to $300,000, though neither amount would have significantly hurt Paltrow, who is worth an estimated $200 million.) The resulting trial, which has thankfully been recorded for posterity, has captured the hearts of people on the internet, with everything from Paltrow’s effortlessly minimalist chic courtroom style (including $1,450 Prada combat boots and an iconic olive-green coat from the Olsen twin-owned quiet luxury brand the Row) to her deadpan testimony, to her banter with Sanderson’s fangirling attorney Kristian VanOrman (VanOrman: “may I ask how tall you are?” Paltrow: “I’m just under 5’10.” VanOrman: “I am so jealous.” Paltrow: “I think I’m shrinking though.” VanOrman: You and me both. I have to wear four-inch heels to make it to 5’5″.” Paltrow: “They’re very nice”) going viral.
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