Gwyneth Paltrow and I have a history together on this here Internet. Basically, I’m not a fan, as I’ve detailed publicly on two very well-received occasions. Her acting is inoffensive, often pleasant. It’s the other stuff — the cookbooks and GOOP and her singing and hanging with Beyonce and Jay-Z that get to me. If she stuck to the acting, she would get a great big whatever from me. But she doesn’t stick to the acting, does she?
Like me and most women I know, Gwynnie (what I would call her if we were BFFs) is multi-faceted. I mean, of course she is. She is married to a rock star and Steven Spielberg is her godfather. Gal’s got an Oscar, an Emmy and a Golden Globe. She’s got it going on, clearly.
So why does she annoy me so much?
The answer to that question is immaterial and inconsequential. Who cares why she annoys me? I’ve detailed the whys in my previous two Gwynnie posts, that honestly, I have benefited from. They are funny and passionate and great writing and clearly struck a nerve with a lot of youse. But truth be told, the things I said with my keyboard are things I would never have said to Gwyneth’s face.
That is cowardly.
I am a lot of things I am not so proud of, but I am not a coward.
The posts were published in February and May, 2011. I have not dedicated a post to Gwynnie since then. There’s a reason for that. It doesn’t feel good. While the moments of typing on the keyboard felt good, like a rant that just needed to come out, the mirroring of hate and intense dislike for Gwyneth that I saw in the comment threads they generated never felt good. Full disclosure, I was ashamed that my words resulted in other words of hate and dislike. I was the catalyst of a lot of yuck and I didn’t like it.
In February of this year, I got a taste of Internet hate and it was bitter. And scary. A group of strangers targeted me on Facebook for something I had posted in complete innocence. What I had posted was twisted and manipulated, then circulated on several other Facebook pages to demonstrate what a horrible person I was. It didn’t feel good. Not one bit.
That experience was sort of a wake up call for me about the power of the Internet and social media. It’s all fun and games until you see your kid’s photo, his innocent face, sweet and vulnerable, splashed on a bunch of pages with hateful things attached to it. Yeah, that was no fun at all.
That experience taught me what cyber-bullying was all about. It only lasted a day, really, my being on the receiving end of some mean girls’ hate, and then like most things in social media — POOF — it was gone. The mean girls had moved on and found another target. But there I was, shaken and sad and not quite so innocent. Hadn’t I done the same thing to Gwyneth?
e-card I created in February 2012.
And then there was the dream I had last week (cue swirly camera work here).
Gwyneth had invited me over to her home. It was a NYC apartment, big, but not garish. It was interesting, with lots of books and art (a lot like a fancier version of my own home). I got there early and was left alone to explore. After a while other people started arriving — 5, 10, 20, 30 people. Hey! There was Chris Martin! And, OMG, is that Gwynnie? It was. We were in the living room and her kids were getting ready for bed just down the hall.
I was in Gwyneth Paltrow’s home and she was holding a salon. A salon, people.
Gwyneth was lounged on a sofa, listening intently, and contributing sometimes. At one point, she asked me what I thought about a topic. I gladly jumped in to the conversational fray. It was about working mothers, so you know I had some thoughts to share.
A few minutes later, I got up to stretch my legs and ran into Chris Martin. I started gushing about how one of his songs — I was embarrassed to realize I don’t know the names to any of them — was something I would listen to over and over when I was sad about my daughter dying of cancer. He seemed moved. I was dream mortified that I didn’t know the name of his work.
Then I walked into the kitchen, and there she was: Gwyneth. My Internet nemesis in the dream flesh. Except in my dream, she was just a lady in her kitchen, not so evil, and looking kind of fabulous. My brain was going a mile a minute. I was scared out of my skivvies that she might have read my rants about her. Should I bring it up? Should I play dumb? In the end, this is what I said:
MTM: Hi, I kind of can’t believe I am in your home.
GP: Here you are.
MTM: Well, people are probably always wanting something from you, and I am no different. I want you to know I am very sorry and ashamed that I have written about you in my blog. And I want to know if you would let me tape you saying, “What’s your Good Thing?” for my charity.
Cut to black when I woke up.
Wow. You know you are grappling with Catholic guilt when you dream about guilt.
So I think my Gwynnie days are over. Truth is, she will probably continue to annoy me, just as I annoy some of you. And as much as I like to rant and rave about how she is so out of touch with the average working mom, Gwyneth and I probably have more in common then I am comfortable admitting. Two privileged white girls living the dream.
Forgive me, Gwyneth. Mea culpa. Truly. I am sorry to have targeted you with my snark. I am sorry to have made fun of your lifestyle, your children’s names, your right to live your life the way you see fit. That was wrong. And mean. And it won’t happen again.