Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Not Ready To Make Nice

Here's the thing about Gwyneth Paltrow ... her greatest strength is her greatest weakness. I find this to be true with everyone and everything.

Gwyneth, as seen in this photograph, exudes poise, class, breeding, darling. She's just very lovely and I, for one, think Estee Lauder scored a major coup by hiring her to represent what I might think is "Beautiful," but could also be "White Linen," or "White Coochie Powder," I don't know - as you know I seldom watch television but I did happen to see this ad last weekend and I remember thinking, "My God, it's Gwyneth in black and white on a schooner in the Carribbean ... yes, I'll take two please ..."

And the truth is, if she is sincere in her explanation of a recent misquote, the third time in the past few years that she has spoken out publicly against America whilst overseas, (and not that this matters but I actually do believe her as I know how the press works - much less the foreign press - and unless you have full copy-approval prior to publishing, there's almost no way a story will get reported accurately: I was once profiled in a magazine and when the story ran I marveled at the fact errors it included), then I feel she probably is getting a bum rap.

People kind of want to hate Gwyneth, and she does make herself an easy target. I mean, c'mon, she is second-generation successful Hollywood and she got her role as Wendy in "Hook" because she was babysitting for Steven Speilberg. Her biggest challenge in life has probably been breaking up with Brad Pitt, perusing books like "How To Give Your Baby A Name That Equates To ASS," and figuring out which sort of macrobiotic lunch she wants her chef to prepare.

To bash on the American work ethic is probably harder to stomach coming from her, because the underlying perception is that she's never been in a place where work is the only salvation she has from poverty and uncertainty.

Still, I do agree with her comparison between European and American cultural differences. The truth is, one only needs to have exposure to global society to understand how different we really are. I once had a friend come to teach a riding clinic for me in Dallas. He is a New Zealander who was residing in England at the time. As we were driving through downtown Dallas - four lanes of traffic, me on my cell phone, smoking a cigarette and scrolling through my Palm - I glanced over and saw him somewhat wide-eyed and looking a little shakey.

"What's the matter?" I asked.

"I always am overwhelmed when I come to America," he said. Then he pointed out the obvious in a very casual way and it really did sit me back and make me think.

America is the only place where we work and exist at such a frenetic pace, then find the need to read publications like "Real Simple," or go on retreats to reconnect with the obvious.

I defend Gwyneth's right to free speech and I would encourage those doing the skewering to have a few conversations outside the US, work with someone from a different culture, then re-read her comments. They're not entirely off-base.

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