The media has it out for Gwyneth Paltrow. They’ve got a thing going where she’s out of touch and too-perfect and privileged and whatever. She doesn’t help it with the things she posts on her blog. After reading this post by Family Building with a Twist, I had to see what the latest thing was. Turns out she’s suggested hundred dollar hostess gifts and stocking stuffers (cynically, I would not be surprised if some of the items on that list were sponsored or put down as favors for someone invested in their sale). Useless over-priced crap that rich people give to each other even though they don’t need more stuff. Because they can.
It actually reminded me of this recent CNN article on the huge amounts being spent on art and jewelry. Money that is definitely not “trickling down” to the little people.
This is what wealth inequality does. It makes useless luxury items more expensive and it moves wealth around amongst the wealthy. It doesn’t feed kids.
But that doesn’t make me hate Gwyneth Paltrow. Infinitely worse are people like the Koch brothers or Roger Ailes and other extremely wealthy people who are against higher marginal taxes for the 1% or for cutting food-stamps. If Gwyneth Paltrow doesn’t realize that not everybody can afford organic foods, personal trainers, or $200 hostess gifts, then she should be educated on that. Maybe a little mingling with the hoi poloi could spark some social activism on her part, though she doesn’t have to become an activist. Pretension isn’t worth worrying about unless it harms others. She’s not actually doing real harm, just providing media fodder for fun little let’s hate the privileged rich girl stories. (Now that Paris Hilton has dropped out of the public eye.)
And why do we have the privileged little rich girl stories instead of stories about people who are actually doing harm? Well, Gwyenth Paltrow is harmless. She’s a side-show. She can’t harm us. She can’t harm a media organization. She’s probably even well-intentioned. And she’s female.
People love to put down “perfect” women. Paltrow is thin, pretty, rich, and self-confident. Crabs in a bucket like to pull people like that down. It provides circus entertainment to distract us from real problems, like unemployment, failing education systems, or children going hungry while the top 1% gets wealthier and wealthier. It is her very irrelevance that makes her the perfect sacrifice. Attack the perfect woman and we’ll feel better about ourselves and we’ll be less likely to riot in the streets. We’ve dealt our blows to the system by making fun of an actress who doesn’t know any better. And that isn’t going to fix a damn thing. It’s just sending yet another signal that women shouldn’t get too uppity or other women will hate them. That’s a stupid signal.
The patriarchy is insidious in its divide and conquer strategies. It’s great at distracting us from real problems, because those real problems are caused by people we can’t be catty about. Those people are dangerous and powerful. They’re not writing up silly over-priced gift lists on their blogs. Much easier to channel that ire against women. The patriarchy is good at this stuff. It’s had lots of practice.