x Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 25 July 2017

Gwyneth Paltrow's Goop is rather, well, goopy

Exactly why Gwyneth Paltrow would launch a website tag lined "Nourish the inner aspect" is about as uninteresting as the site itself.

Gwyneth Paltrow is under fire for her lifestyle website, Goop. Given the content, it's little wonder.
Gwyneth Paltrow is under fire for her lifestyle website, Goop. Given the content, it's little wonder.

Goodness. Being a celebrity can be trying sometimes, can't it Gwyneth? There you are, standing in your kitchen and trying to debone a chicken with a pair of scissors, and the world froths itself up into a state of almighty fury. PETA spews that you should stick to veganism, peasants moan that you're simply pretending to be one of them. Others, myself included, ask whether the world needs another method for roast chicken. Or whether one can even call roast chicken a "recipe", but perhaps that's nitpicking.

Gwyneth Paltrow's chicken moment is one of the latest additions to her perky lifestyle website, Goop, which essentially houses a collection of her domestic thoughts. The chicken clip is a seven-minute video, filmed in an unidentified kitchen that may or may not be in one of the 27 houses - approximately - that she and her husband, Coldplay's Chris Martin, own across the globe. She stands behind a chopping board, her hair properly tied back (unlike that messy Nigella Lawson), and launches into this "recipe" for a roast chicken dinner.

"Right now I'm working, so I'm really interested in quick meals," she says, explaining that the recipe is what she terms "fast food". While peeling the potatoes (red Kabbalah bracelet visible on her left wrist), our modern-day Marie Antoinette tells us she started learning how to cook when she was 19 and shortly due at university in California. Cooking has since become a major passion, she says. "It's sort of what I lie in bed and think about at night, which might be a problem," she trills. This divulgence might be more believable if Paltrow wasn't skirting a size zero but, again, let's not nitpick.

The potatoes are peeled and placed in water. "Parboiled," Paltrow explains, just as Delia Smith might. Then she comes to the most controversial aspect of the video: the deboning of the chicken is being slammed in some sections of the internet as if Paltrow were a serial killer. The tofu-guzzling actress takes a pair of scissors, cuts through the chicken and removes the thigh bones. Just like that. Like a butcher. And worse, say the blog police, she goes on to make a salad without washing her hands. The horror of it all! Let's switch back to nice Jamie Oliver.

Of course, it's not the first time Goop has come under heavy fire. From its start last September, the site has garnered controversy, first of all for its name, which Paltrow has explained was a kind of nickname fashioned from her initials when she was young. Poor child. Next up for ridicule was the tagline: "Nourish the inner aspect." A career in acting has been lost on Paltrow - with nonsense slogans like that, just think of the success she could have made in marketing.

Even after such unpromising beginnings, she still bravely persisted with the site, penning weekly newsletters on subjects such as going green, vegan lunches and the ability to "police your thoughts" without worry about their reception. Gwyneth-haters the world over questioned what exactly it is we could learn from an Oscar-winning actress and her A-list lifestyle. More ammunition was gained from the fact that our heroine launched the site when much of the world was imploding financially. At that point, did we really need to be told how to get a table at London's best restaurant? Or know that the reading lists of such literary giants as Madonna and Christy Turlington contained Pride and Prejudice and The Time Traveller's Wife? Such an enlightened collection of thoughts seemed irrelevant.

And then Goop was criticised for its Kabbalah witterings. Under headings such as "Thoughts on Pessimism", "Addiction" and "Relationships Part One", several of the Kabbalah fold offer their advice. In the newsletter on relationships, for example, the director of the Kabbalah Centre, Monica Berg, offers four key issues to nurture with a partner. She finishes the article with a quote from JFK - possibly not the person to preach about stable marriages but maybe they do things differently in Kabbalah.

Rumour has it that the site is all part of Paltrow's titanic plan to reinvent herself as the next Oprah Winfrey or Martha Stewart. So anybody who thinks they can find the inside secrets on her fabulous life, her husband or their children, Apple and Moses, will be sorely let down. For most of us mortals, it really is just a collection of goop. * Sophia Money-Coutts