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About Gwyneth and Vanity Fair

2013 October 19


I don’t write about Gwyneth Paltrow often (though you can read more on the inspiration behind this blog here) but a lot of people lately have been asking me what I think of this whole Vanity Fair situation and I thought I’d take a minute to share.

If you haven’t been following the story, Vanity Fair magazine is putting out a seemingly salacious exposé cover story on the actress (similar to ones they did on Tom Cruise and Brad Pitt) that she is not cooperating with. By not cooperating, it means she refuses to be interviewed, won’t comment, and apparently asked those closest to her to decline comment as well and to not work with the magazine moving forward.

Vanity Fair apparently doesn’t like to be told no so they have publicly stated they are moving forward with the feature and that she “forced their hand.” And the latest news is that it involves a story about her having an affair a few years back. Cue the headlines.

So what do I think? I am not writing this as the blogger behind WhatWouldGwynethDo. I am not writing this as someone who is a fan and who respects and admires her work, her causes and her public persona.

I am writing this as a Vanity Fair reader, a woman and a journalism graduate. And I think the whole thing is very sad.

This love/hate fascination with Paltrow has intrigued me from the first time I hit publish on this blog. She is so polarizing, especially to women, and I always find it amazing to see people devote so much hatred and energy to someone they have never met. I know that what we see and “know” of celebrities these days is a) merely a fraction of the true person they are and b) mostly none of our business. I love that people are insulted and angered by the aspirational lifestyle she promotes. If you don’t want to buy a $500 Rag & Bone sweater, then don’t. But maybe I do. Should I be insulted by the myriad of other celebrity brands and endorsements I don’t relate to? No, I choose to skip over them and move on. Should we really take offense to her wanting her children to eat healthy, organic diets? Or that she busts her butt to stay in shape post-babies? Or that she chooses to keep her marriage and private life….private? Should we really, in any way, shape or form, be directing so much hostility and anger to another woman who is really just trying to do what she can for her family, her career and her body?

You don’t have to like Paltrow. You can have your opinion and be entitled to it, of course. But for a national magazine to turn someone’s private life into a feature story based on third-party commentary and assumptions simply to generate headlines and sales, is a sad state for journalism. It’s a sad portrayal of their readers, many of whom have expressed glee at the mere thought of a Gwyneth takedown publicly. It’s another sad example of today’s backwards celebrity culture where we feel so entitled to want these public figures to fail, to fuck up and to be publicly shamed…so we can get a laugh or a witty Tweet out of it.

And I think it’s particularly sad for this woman and her family, her children and her mother, her husband. Her business associates and her friends.

So will I be reading the Vanity Fair article? Yes. I am not going to lie. I don’t subscribe, but my parents do and I often snag their copy (clearly Graydon Carter had no issues with Jay Z given his GLOWING feature on him this month). I am curious, like everyone else, to see what all the headlines are about. But I certainly have a new, tainted impression of Vanity Fair now. Of editor in chief Graydon Carter. Of the woman writing the piece, Vanessa Grigoriadis. I hope the story is weak. I hope it tells me nothing new and nothing I care to know and nothing I should know. I hope Paltrow continues to opt out of cooperating on things that make her uncomfortable or seem wrong. Because she has that right. Just as we have a right to love her or hate her, she has a right to keep her private life private and to protect her family. She has that right as a public figure yes, but more importantly, as a woman. And I think as fellow women – love her or hate her – we should support that right.

*image via here

9 Responses leave one →
  1. stella permalink
    October 19, 2013

    So well put. Haters are gonna hate but this whole thing is ridiculous. Thanks for the post.

  2. Rmr permalink
    October 19, 2013

    You’re right, why should someone devote so much energy to hate someone they actually don’t know. But flip that on its head, why should we actually like someone we don’t know?

    Then you also complain about celebrity culture in this country, but good grief, the mere title of this blog contributes & adds to the celebrity culture.

    • Ariel permalink
      October 19, 2013

      No one is saying you have to like Ms. Paltrow. Or buy her books. Or see her movies. Or read this blog. To each her own, no judging.

  3. Lisa permalink
    October 19, 2013

    I absolutely agree! Here in Australia it’s called the “Tall Poppy Syndrome”…Building people up to knock them down. Sad.

  4. Irina permalink
    October 19, 2013

    I agree… I think that Paltrow is not a particularly good actress, but I do like her public persona and enjoy perusing GOOP articles on occasion. I certainly do not hold her lifestyle against her, and quite enjoy her cook book (if only to peruse as well). I never read VF (or any other thick beauty/fashion/style mags), but I have always been led to believe that their articles aspire to be a cut above “US weekly” and such, but apparently not! IF only VF mastered the art of packaging their “news” in the same concise, consumable “while waiting in line at the nail salon” format, and added real paparazzi style photos… I might even give their magazine a try 🙂

    Thanks for writing – I enjoy reading your articles. Best of luck.

  5. joi permalink
    October 19, 2013

    i totally agree. i look at it this way…what if vanity fair wanted to write an article about a mistake that i made or a mistake that i might or might not have made according to a few people who were around me a few years ago? how fair or truthful or relevant would that be? why do i care what has or has not happened in her marriage? just because she is a celebrity, and has, in my opinion, as awesome blog with recipes that i love, has awesome style and can afford to wear really really cool clothes…and many more things…does not make her perfect or untouchable or does she in any way deserve to be “taken down” by a magazine. for what purpose? and what good would it do? sell more magazines? maybe a few, but in the end if nothing good or positive came out of VF printing that article than why do it? i’d like to think that as a mother i am trying to teach my children to do the right thing, to do right by others, and treat others the way you would like to be treated. and do we really need or want to know EVERYTHING about everybody?
    so long story short…i say bad on VF.

  6. October 19, 2013

    The thing is, I don’t think it is fair to say, “Bad Vanity Fair,” and then buy and read the article. In reading the article and spending your money on it, you are rewarding Vanity Fair. If you think that this is really sad, which it seems that you do, wouldn’t it make more sense not to read the article at all. I know you don’t buy it, but in reading it, you are supporting it.

  7. Kaly permalink
    October 20, 2013

    I think it’s all a publicity stunt to sell magazines. Vanity Fair is totally feeding the fire. They’re tweeting her previous covers, building up the hype. I’ve always been a big fan of VF but this is…I don’t know. It’s making me question their integrity. If someone doesn’t want to cooperate with an interview it doesn’t mean that they did something wrong. Maybe they just want privacy. And now VF is capitalizing on her resistance to cooperate and spinning it that she has huge secrets to hide and we deserve to know. And what if she did something “horrible” like eat gluten or yell at an assistant or her kids or make a really, really bad choice ? Of course, she doesn’t want to talk about it. She’s under no obligation to tell her side of the story. To a magazine. I’ve never understood why people have such animosity to GP. She just seems like anyone else to me – doing the best she can with what she has.

  8. Haley Dunne permalink
    February 13, 2014

    Hear hear! Great blog. In particular I whole heartedly agree that a great deal of journalism has degraded to a pitiful mockery of the righteous institution it was meant to be. Any wonder all my most admirable jschool peers went into PR?

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