The movie star uses the opportunity of her divorce to enlighten us all. She should never change
Gwyneth Paltrow’s announcement on her website Goop that she and husband Chris Martin are divorcing may be one of the all-time Gwynethiest things of all time. While it’s reasonable and humane to feel badly for Paltrow, Martin and their two young children, it’s also of a piece with the entertainment Paltrow has provided for the better part of the past decade in its pretension and manic flightiness. In an era of stars taking a backseat, on-screen, to the CGI robots and aliens they’re fighting, Paltrow has proven yet again that she’s one of our great stars, a worthy heiress to the legacy of Joan Crawford and Bette Davis.
Paltrow consistently comes in for criticism for the lifestyle she promotes in Goop — recommending elite fishmongers and three-figure tank-tops as a means of making life simpler. She consistently fulfills the ideal of what a Hollywood star might act like if she opened up to the public, providing a gratuitously satisfying look inside the delusions of Hollywood. That she thinks she has the common touch despite being born into Hollywood royalty and having the time and means to spend all day focusing on her appearance and personal comfort is by far the funniest thing about Paltrow.
And her tips about divorce are as cluelessly airheaded in exactly the same way. The headline of her announcement, “Conscious Uncoupling,” is as woo-woo Eastern-ish philosophical as are much of Paltrow’s post-Oprah-and-Chopra pronouncements, but the text is reasonably normal, describing the couple’s desire for privacy and their year-long separation. (Finally, an explanation to why Paltrow, who’s made it a marriage-long fetish to avoid walking red carpets with Martin,looked so peeved at the Golden Globes!) Good for Paltrow and Martin, if this is what they want. (My colleague Mary Elizabeth Williams feels empathy for Paltrow that I do not, personally, share, but I respect their right to do whatever they want in their marriage — the divorce itself isn’t worth mocking.)
But then Paltrow shares the thoughts of Dr. Habib Sadeghi & Dr. Sherry Sami, apparently experts on what it means to divorce. Sadeghi is “the director of Be Hive of Healing, an integrative health center based in Los Angeles.” Sami is “founder of Happy Kids Dental Planet Homeopathic Dentistry and Orthodontics in Los Angeles.” Credentials (or lack thereof?) when it comes to marriage counseling aside, Sadeghi and Sami’s thoughts are treated as gospel here: The pair draw in evolutionary biology and the structure of the human skeleton (“Life is a spiritual exercise in evolving from an exoskeleton for support and survival to an endoskeleton”) in order to explain why a divorce might happen.
This is so classic it hurts. Paltrow can’t just announce a divorce via press release or in a Vanity Fair story — after all, she’s feuding with the publication ever since it launched and subsequently killed an investigation into why she was so annoying, or something yet more personal. In order to explain to her public why she and her husband might be divorcing, Paltrow had to trot out a phrase invoking mindfulness (she even does divorce better than the plebes do!) and then explain to her public, via the teachings of an integrative health professional and a homeopathic orthodontist, why adults might get divorced. Gwyneth … we already know why.
But she should never, never change. Paltrow has managed to make even the splashiest Hollywood divorces look both bitter and basic. There appears to be little acrimony between her and Martin (they’re reportedly on vacation now) — bravo! And bravo, too, for a star so devoted to her persona as the font of human wisdom that she can turn her divorce into an opportunity to enlighten us all.
One would think this is the best Goop will ever get, that it’s all downhill from here. That may be true, but consider. Paltrow’s about to start dating again, and enlightening us on what the modern dating scene is for single folks, both those with access to the finest things on earth and those who can’t afford much more than beer and pizza. I’m already refreshing goop.com once an hour.
Daniel D’Addario is a staff reporter for Salon’s entertainment section. Follow him on Twitter @DPD_