Is Gwyneth Paltrow Wrong About Everything ?

download Viking Press. Toronto. 2015. 314 pp, plus 50 pages of references and notes plus an index

The short answer “Yes”.

The long answer involves a readable, thorough and systematic take-down of our fantasy culture around ‘celebrities’ . How parents waste their resource and the their children’s lives pursuing impossible sports or acting/singing/dancing goals, for example. How people waste huge amounts of money on bogus ‘cleansing’ and dieting fads which have virtually zero real benefit. How people think that they can become famous and do not understand what the odds mean for them. Why some of us pursue fame as a goal in itself.

We also find out about the significant soul-destroying effects of celebrity on that tiny portion of humanity that achieves it.  A couple of quotes:

“[ . . .] big dreams, even if unrealistic, are fun and can play an important social role. Plus, I can completely reltate to the fantasy of fame. I devoted a significant part of my young adult life to the pursuit of rock ‘n roll stardom.”

But more importantly, I believe the message of this section is liberating. Ideally, it will release us from the grip of celebrity-fuelled ambitions and the social expectations that come with them. I hope it allows us to make more informed choices as individuals and parents. More broadly, I hope it highlights the pernicious impact of celebrity culture on our values and our conceptions of the good life. ( p. 194 )

Or this

“The American Dream  is based on the idea that if you work hard enough you can have a good life and do whatever you want. But the whatever-you-want carrot that is meant to drive our society forward does not — again, in any real sense — exist. The carrot at the end of the stick isn’t real.” (p. 271)

This book is a good read. If it seems daunting, you can read chapters or sections without having to read from start to finish.

About thompsondavid

Artist, Italophile, happily retired software person. I read widely and am constantly finding wonderful things to discover and share. BA in English Literature, Masters in Library Science.
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