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Gwyneth Paltrow Getty 5.jpg

Why Gwyneth Paltrow Endures, Despite It All

By Kayleigh Donaldson | Celebrity | April 3, 2023 |

By Kayleigh Donaldson | Celebrity | April 3, 2023 |

Gwyneth Paltrow Getty 5.jpg

Paltrow is Gwynnecent. After a brief trial that instantly became the stuff of memes and irony, Gwyneth Paltrow was found not liable for damages after a man sued her, claiming she was responsible for injuries he faced during a skiing accident. The entire affair seemed ripe for good clean celebrity gossip fun, from Paltrow’s courthouse fashion to quotes of pure privilege that seemed plucked from the newest season of Succession. It was the Wagatha Christie of America, a welcome respite from the darkest depths of current political furor. Even if she’d lost, people would have been thankful for the entertainment. But she prevailed, as she always does.

Gwyneth Paltrow has endured for decades, even as she descends into parody. An Oscar-winning actress whose parents were industry stalwarts, she started her on-screen career, infamously in hindsight, as the queen of Miramax under the grip of Harvey Weinstein (who she accused of sexual harassment, later describing their working and personal dynamic as being like an abusive relationship.) She no longer acts, preferring to focus on her lifestyle brand GOOP, which set the standards for celebrity side hustles in the years to come. Accurate valuations of the company are hard to find, but the fact that it has lasted as long as it has, and in such a niche market, is a testament to Paltrow’s business savvy and the perennial allure of rich white lady nonsense.

Paltrow started GOOP in 2008, to much derision from the public, and there are plenty of good reasons people think that company is a heap of bullshit. The wellness age is all too often a ton of pseudoscientific, anti-vaxx-adjacent woo-woo peddled by faux-experts stoking frequently justified distrust in the modern medical system. Remember, this is the company that preached about the miracle of vaginal eggs, body stickers that ‘promote healing’, sex dust, and how walking around barefoot could ease your depression. Paltrow has faced many criticisms of her ‘just asking questions’ business model (complete with oh-so-many products) by claiming she wants to promote an ‘open-minded’ worldview. She also admitted in a profile by the New York Times that she gets more eyeballs on her business through those dang haters, so she is happy to court them. At a certain point, at least in terms of wealth, one becomes immune to most kinds of ‘cancel-ready’ drama.

And through it all, people are still fascinated by Paltrow. There is something to be said about not trying to be relatable. The demanded default mode of celebrity in this current era is one of approachability. One must seem wholly open to the public, be it through social media, side hustles, or a general presence of welcoming warmth. It’s a prospect that is prone to backlash, as the likes of Jennifer Lawrence can testify to, and yet even the most untouchable A-Listers are expected to retain some aspect of relatable normalcy about them. You drink at Dunkin’ Donuts even as you drive a Tesla.

For whatever you can say about Paltrow, she’s never even bothered with that. She is rich, a second-generation industry figure who married a rockstar then a TV showrunner, and made millions selling vaginal eggs. Her image has never been one of girl-next-door cutesiness. Before she won her Oscar, the headlines focused on her impeccable elegance, her well-to-do upbringing, and the roles of pristine yet witty ladies she made her name with. She was perfect for Emma because it seemed so natural for her to be of that lineage. Even as she delved further into pseudoscience and bone broth, she never lost focus on who she could or should appeal to. GOOP was by rich white women, for rich white women. Was she out of touch? Sure, but so was her demographic, and they had the cash to prove it. There’s a reason GOOP survives while many of its wannabe celebrity branding copycats don’t. Paltrow can get away with selling obviously nonsense vaginal health gummies but Kourtney Kardashian can’t (even though neither of them really should, of course.)

We veer between laughing at Paltrow and laughing with her, even when she seems in on the joke (and it’s variable as to how much and often she is.) When she seems genuinely baffled to hear that she was in more Marvel films than she first thought, it’s hilarious and extremely Paltrow. She openly refers to her GOOP work as ‘white women nonsense.’ With her, there’s a certain level of irony expected, a #girlboss-esque joke that the internet has adopted to represent the sheer breadth of her privilege. At her simplest, there’s a near-innocent appeal to this kind of celebrity, one so silly and not of the pack that you’re almost glad she’s around for us to talk about. Whatever else you think of her, from a purely gossip-hound perspective, she’s dynamite. There’s always something new, weird, and hot-takes ready to discuss.

In the ski trial, she was Peak Gwyneth. The subtle but nonetheless wildly expensive clothes! The poise! The aviator shades! The distinct sense of rich lady weirdness! It’s rare for a celebrity to take any case to trial, much less one that will be televised, because the risk is too great. Look at what happened to Rebekah Vardy when she insisted on taking the world’s stupidest libel trial to the highest court in the land. That Paltrow got through it isn’t a common occurrence. Perhaps, because the stakes were relatively low, people felt fine with participating in its occasionally earnest mockery. Everything that happened at that trial elicited a response of, ‘yup, that’s what I expected from Gwyneth Paltrow.’ The only thing missing was a brief conversation on the magic of a macrobiotic diet and a plug for GOOP sex toys (which are a thing, because of course they are.)

Too many people desperately try to follow in Paltrow’s footsteps for her to ever truly go away or wane in power, even if she never makes another film. You can’t cancel rich weirdos, even the truly dangerous ones, because our media and economy are utterly obsessed with elevating them beyond the status of mere mortals. She has tapped into a market that will never wane, one of an endless search for good wellbeing, particularly in a country with no universal healthcare. For all of the people laughing at her, wondering how the hell she gets away with it all, there are a ton with far more disposable income who buoy her enterprise to new heights. It’d be admirable if it weren’t stacked upon wobbly foundations of pseudoscience horseshit. Seriously, people, don’t shove jade eggs up your vagina.