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It's Too Easy to Mock Gwyneth Paltrow's Goop

I love Goop. Gwyneth Paltrow's lifestyle platform might have been its own punchline since it launched, but to me, it's pure escapism. Haters will hate, but with her emotional water and sugar-free baking, she is bigger than all of us.

by Eleanor Morgan
Jun 6 2014, 4:30pm

Image via Flickr user Jennifer

I love Goop. God, it feels good to say that.

Gwyneth Paltrow's lifestyle platform has been its own punchline since it launched. An Oscar-winning actress cut from fine Hollywood cloth forsaking American life for quaint old Lahndan (you can imagine her winking at her son, Moses, and calling him "squire" when he comes down for breakfast) and doling out lifestyle advice to us proles every week from her moneyed, macrobiotic cloud? It writes itself.

But it's been nearly four years and I still bounce in my chair when Gwyneth's—sorry, "GP's"—chatty email newsletters come in. Each used to be titled with a different verb—DO, MAKE, GET, SEE, AND GO—and even her recent, much derided "Conscious Uncoupling" bulletin detailing her split from professional charity lanyard, Chris Martin, was filed under BE. She's stopped verbing now, though, for shame.

Paltrow's latest communiqué begins with a lovely little update on hip NY restaurants and daring fashion prints then moves seamlessly into a gentle plea for Goop readers to stop and consider the impact that nasty words or noises might have on water.

She cites the work of Messages From Water author Masura Emoto, a scientist who has studied the molecular effects of subjecting water to everything from music to talking and shouting. "I have long had Dr. Emoto's coffee table book on how negativity changes the structure of water," she says. Just ponder the idea of a coffee table book on water structure for a moment. "I am fascinated by the growing science behind the energy of consciousness and its effect on matter."

It's an interesting point. We are too cavalier with organic matter. That Paltrow chooses someone who would give any sceptic fizzy knickers with his famous rice experiment is also interesting, though.

For the unfamiliar, Dr. Emoto once placed three portions of cooked rice into containers, writing "thank you" on one, "you fool" on another, and nothing on the last. He instructed school kids to say the label out loud every time they passed each rice container and apparently, at the end, the bullied rice was moldier and more horrible-looking than the praised rice, but the ignored rice fared worse.

"Negligence and indifference are the absolute worst things we can do to water, rice, and ourselves," he said. "We should converse with our children. Indifference does the greatest harm."

This kind of monumental parenting advice, that which can be forever attributed to a rice experiment, is precisely the kind of thing you can imagine Gwyneth sharing gently, all teeth and doe eyes, over some mugicha and a plate of alfalfa sprouts. No one of reasonable sentience would understand or stomach the reference, but I find it hard to reckon with how much people feel it matters to point out the disparity.

The water thing (I would pay good money to watch Gwyneth screaming bloody murder at a bottle of Evian) is almost certainly absolute tosh, but for me, Goop is pure escapism. A blissful cloud of bong smoke. For every Tweet from people calling themselves things like @SnarkyPlatypus saying, "Have to remind myself that Goop is not an intentionally satirical website," I think, Where's your joy, fool?

Because Gwyneth just seems like a nice, slightly out-of-touch mum. Even if she does make a habit of boasting that she has the arse of a 22-year-old stripper. And honestly? Her cookbook, It's All Good, is fabulous. Every recipe works. Yes, most people aren't going to be able to afford to buy ten pounds of kale a day or have the patience to fill their kitchens with reservoirs of soaking almonds, but I and most of my friends found—and still find—it the most reliable go-to if you want to have a few days of virtuous eating. Sure, she almost certainly didn't write the thing, but the sesame pancakes are a complete delight. The Thai chicken burgers with Korean slaw? Ambrosial.

For all the crackpot nonsense, taking the piss out of Gwyneth Paltrow is too much of an open goal. When she says things like, "When I'm on the sugar-free/vegan-gluten-free tip, I bust out this glorious hymn to the guilt-free treat and get busy" about healthy bakery, she positions herself above satire, and again, just sounds like a funky mum with too much time on her hands. This is the same woman who once said in an interview that during a spiritual retreat in Arizona's Sedona Mountains the rocks told her, "You have the answers. You are the teacher."

You know what? I'm with those rocks all the way. There is nothing normal about Gwyneth's life. She's bigger than all of us, a genius who's pretty much trolling the world and getting more press for being a parody of a celebrity than being one actually got her. So why try and align her output within normal parameters? She's about as dangerous as a radish.