Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Don't People Realize Gwyneth Paltrow Works Her Ass Off?

photo © 2011 Daniel Oines | more info (via: Wylio)

As I have said before, people love to hate on Gwyneth Paltrow, and to that I must add that it is with good cause.  Could there be a more clueless, rich, cisgender, straight, White woman running around? I know that before I even start reading an article about her, that I am going to be irritated, and yet my masochist tendencies mean that I still read it through.  Of course, this ends with me spewing epithets, while I go on a five minute or so rant, about her obliviousness to the world around her. 

Paltrow recently did an interview with Pop Eater and true to her history it was yet another extravaganza of over privileged White lady syndrome.
So, there is a contingent of people who are for some reason irritated by you. Do you know what I'm talking about?
Uh huh.

Why do you think that is? I have my theory, but I'll say afterward.
My theory is twofold. I think there's a part of me that because I think I do a lot, I think my work ethic is the reason why I'm successful. I think that a lot of people don't want to put in effort and it's easier to not change, not do something good for you, not work on your relationship, not make yourself a meal, not work out. [They're just] pissed off at someone else doing that. Everything in my life that's good is because I worked my ass off to get it and to maintain it. I also think, for example, like Mario Batali used to make fun of me all the time if I had soy milk in my coffee or if I was doing a cleanse or something. He used to grill me like, "Oh what are we eating? Squeezed out asparagus and seaweed?" And now he's the one doing a cleanse and having almond milk. I think people mistake me trying to be the best version of myself for me telling them you're not, or they just think well, what does that make me then, you annoying f**king person on the soapbox. But I can't please everybody, all I can do is focus on the people who seem to appreciate what I do and put into the world. I'll just do what I'm doing because, especially now, we live in a world now where everybody is able to express their opinion.

And anonymously.
Yeah, which almost sort of rules out the opinion. If everyone has an opinion then no one has an opinion. Ultimately, it's not about me.

It's about themselves.
Exactly. It's a projection. Sometimes if I hear of something really unkind or somebody's really misunderstood me or something like that for a second I'll be like, "Oooh wow that hurt," but almost immediately I'll be like, "poor guy." What state are they in that they're seeing that or projecting that.

Can we talk about...?
What's your theory?

Oh, that people are jealous. I know I'm going to sound like a suck up, but you're gorgeous, have a great career, two beautiful children, married to a big rock star. It all looks so effortless. You're well spoken. It just rubs people the wrong way. You look perfect.
It's funny because I'm so not. Of course, some of it is luck. My parents had money and they sent me to a good school, but it's like, what do you choose to do with that? You can rely on that and not do anything with it or you can say, "How am I going to justify that good fortune? How am I going to say my parents didn't waste their money on me?" I just think I'm really all about hard work and I honestly feel like anyone can have or do what they want as long as they put their mind to it.
Okay, take a moment for a deep breath.  On one hand, she admits that she was born into a class privileged family, but on the other, she works really, really, really, hard people.   Why don't people get that, she does after all cook two meals a day for her family?  I firmly believe that domestic labour does not get the respect that it deserves, largely because it is labour performed by women, and does not produce a product that can be sold on the market for a profit.  That said,  there is a lot of privilege just in having the ability to cook.  This comes with the ability to be able to afford good, healthy, fresh ingredients, and the oft ignored, but super necessary component - time. Paltrow has time because she has class privilege.  There are plenty of women who are forced to feed their families prepackaged food, simply because between working grueling hours, taking care of their homes, and helping with homework, there is very little time left in the day. This reminds me of the our recent conversation regarding the disgust people express about eating on the subway.  When you are poor, you eat where and what you can.

Privileged people love to carry on about how hard they have worked, without really acknowledging all of the breaks that they have had along the way, which makes their journey so much easier than a marginalized person. I personally have to agree with Keli Goff when she says:
As I noted on The Dylan Ratigan Show, Gwyneth, for instance, was born to Hollywood royalty. Her father Bruce was one of television's most legendary directors of shows like St. Elsewhere and her mother is the acclaimed actress Blythe Danner. I've heard nothing but great things about her family -- a rarity in Hollywood -- and I think it's wonderful that she was so fortunate to have that. But when you credit landing one of your first film roles to "your Uncle Steven," as in Steven Spielberg, who directed a young Gwyneth in Hook, you have officially relinquished the right to say that "Everything in my life that's good is because I worked my ass off to get it."
There is no denying that she has worked hard however, she is in the position that she is, because she was born into privilege, which opened doors to her that are most certainly closed to large sections of the population.  Paltrow has worked no harder than an undocumented worker, who is labouring incredibly long hours, for barely a subsistence wage, but admitting that would mean recognizing her privilege, which is something Paltrow is really loathe to do.

People don't misinterpret her life when they critique the way that class and Whiteness has created abundant opportunities for her, and the fact that she reduces this to jealousy, once again reveals an almost stunning inability to see the world as it really is. The earth could not sustain life, if we were to all live her type of lifestyle, but this fact should not entitle her to live in opulence, while others are struggling to survive in vermin infested homes, while working for barely subsistence level wages. It is not jealousy to point out that she is consuming more than her fair share of the earths resources, on the backs of the poor, who are largely btw made up of Brown and Black people. It is only a sense of entitlement, that makes her believe that her labour is worth the value that it is currently assigned.

Whiteness and class privilege not only expect to be able to oppress people at will, they seem to expect the marginalized to embrace this exploitation as natural.  The carrot of meritocracy is dangled before us to suggest that if we all had the same work ethic as Paltrow, we too could be living in luxury, but in truth -- no matter how hard we work, because the system is designed specifically to oppress certain bodies while uplifting others, there will always be an underclass largely made up of POC.  No matter how deluded Paltrow continues to be, those of us who live in the real world are able to see the nonsense of her protestations from a mile away.

People mock Paltrow because she makes it so easy.  When you say utter nonsense with a straight face and expect people to take you seriously, what else do you expect?  Paltrow will impress me when she stops trying to educate me about work ethic and actually has the courage to step outside of her life to see how the majority of the people live. I for one refuse to believe for one moment that my lack of wealth is based in anything other than our unbalanced capitalist system and our desire to privilege certain bodies.  For all the love that Paltrow says surrounds her it astounds me that not a single person has told her to be quiet while handing her a library card.  Ignorance is purposeful an every time she opens her mouth, she proves the veracity of this.