When Gwyneth announced her divorce yesterday, our office naturally exploded into schadenfreude freakout. Everyone either saw it coming or was instantly devastated, everyone had an opinion, and everyone watched with glee as the latest goop lifestyle product, "conscious uncoupling," soared into a trending topic across the Internet. Frankly, it made for a nice break from talking about Kim Kardashian and her appearance on Vogue as one half of #worldsmosttalkedaboutcouple.
In many ways, Kim Kardashian and Gwyneth Paltrow are opposite sides of the same coin. While Kim has built her following based on living entirely in public with little regard to good taste or overexposure, Gwyneth (and Chris) insisted upon keeping her personal life entirely private, while constantly extolling the value of her lifestyle. They're both loved and loathed in extreme, but equal measures, ceaselessly mocked by a jaded media audience, and yet, no matter what they say, it's going to be a headline. And, we're probably going to click on it.
"Omg they were the *ultimate* couple," bemoaned one commenter on Refinery29's post about the Paltrow-Martin breakup. "Can't believe he stayed with that b*tch for as long as he did!!!" said another. While the most flack Chris Martin got was "maybe Coldplay will make better music now," the comments directed at Gwyneth quickly descended to "apparently she's a big old ho having affairs all over london," and simply, "she's pathetic."
Curious, I looked back at the commentary on Friday's post about the Kimye cover. "Trash!! Were [sic] are the real models!!! I guess all you have to do is become a media whore and you can get on the cover of Vogue," said one comment. "Kim shouldn't be on the cover. I 100% agree with all of you, but not because she's tacky, trashy, tasteless, has no style...It's because the only reason she is famous is because she made a SEX TAPE." I could point at the truly foul commentary, but frankly, the language used prohibits me from doing so. It can all be summarized in this comment, upvoted 35 times: "Barf."
I get it. Both of these women have justly earned their criticisms. But, in looking at the way we choose to voice them, I think we're due for some finger-pointing, too. (Check out the comments on their own Instagram accounts.) We attack these women for their vanity and self-righteousness, throwing up arms at every macrobiotic green juice recipe and every duck-lipped, arch-backed Instagram.
Let ye among us who has never posted a needless selfie just because they were having a good-skin day cast the first stone.
True, we're probably never going to be as extreme as Kim K or Gwynnie. We don't have the time and money and millions of people willing to pay attention. When we get married, it's not going to merit a Vogue cover. When we get divorced, no one will expect a statement apologizing and explaining to the world just how and why we couldn't work it out. We won't have to make up gentle diplomatic phrases to describe the loss of a marriage we once thought would last a lifetime.
A word on "conscious uncoupling." It's just a thing she said. It's not like she's coining a new legal procedure or saying anything other than "we're going to try and do this nicely, like adults." But, when Gwyneth says something so perfectly Gwyneth, it's going to be a thing. And, that's entirely her own doing. In building her brand with just as much calculated ambition as Kim Kardashian, she's made herself an easy target.
If they're really going to pull off an uncontentious divorce, then huge high five to them both. I still reserve the right to make fun of her $1,000 shot glass (which, somehow, is not an outrageous example that I invented for hyperbole, but an actual $1,000 shot glass currently available on goop.com). But, I don't really feel like making fun of two parents who, despite their all-too-preciousness, are probably trying really hard to make this process easier for their kids.
As a writer and consumer, I'm in no position to judge anyone for judging Gwyneth Paltrow (or Kim Kardashian). But, I'd like to think I know when to poke fun and when to keep my big, mocking mouth shut. Gwyneth may come off as a pretentious princess, but if she's going to actually do something perfectly, I hope this is it. And, if not, then maybe this is the thing that will make a dent in her perfection and bring her back down to earth. The question is do we really want that to happen? Would we even let her?