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Paltrow wastes no time: Goop is thin

September 26, 2008|Maria Russo | Times Staff Writer

Gwyneth Paltrow's new lifestyle/advice website, Goop.com, went up this week in preview form, but the backlash is already well underway.

The site will be a collection of recommendations and musings from Gwyneth herself about things that make her life special -- but the road ahead looks bumpy for this little operation! It's not just that apparently no one wants to take life direction from the girl who has it all. There are also more basic technical problems, starting with the layout of the two-page site. It's not clear why she bothered to put it up with so little content. It feels like something that won an award for Web design in 1998.

We're given little but mottoes and flourishes. "Nourish the inner aspect," we're entreated. Er, but "aspect" means "appearance to the eye or mind." Meaning, I think we're being told to nourish our inner superficiality.

The home page of Goop is bare and white, listing just a few pastel icons for categories in which Paltrow will offer said nourishment: Make, Go, Get, Do, Be and See. Lots of people appreciate a clean-looking home page. But this one is simply undernourished.

Each category links to the same note from Gwyneth. It says "GOOP, a collection of experiences" across the top, again striking a shallow note. Experiences don't seem meant to be collected, like perfume or vintage posters.

Then comes Gwyneth's own voice: "My life is good because I am not passive about it. I want to nourish what is real, and I want to do it without wasting time. I love to travel, to cook, to take care of my body and mind, to work hard. . . . "

Paltrow has not found a winning tone in this little note. In addition to hitting us with too many I's, she sounds preachy and rigid. Sure, "nourish what's real" -- but why follow that with "without wasting time"? Figuring out what's real takes some people a lifetime.

She ends with a demanding list of things we should do to make our own lives better: "Cook a meal for someone you love"; "Pause before reacting"; "Clean out your space"; "Go to a city you've never been to"; "Don't be lazy"; "Workout [sic] and stick with it."

Maybe that "pause before reacting" was asking her critics to give her site time to develop. Sadly for Paltrow, she's now on the Web. Gawker rushed in to make fun of the unlovely name "Goop," and Popeater whipped up a gallery of names Paltrow passed on (yes, including the obvious scatological rhyme). E! Online let it fly: "Good news everyone, Gwyneth Paltrow is launching a lifestyle website -- because when life is as amazing as hers obviously is, it's selfish to keep all those fabulous secrets to yourself." The blog fadedyouth noted, "being a rich actress with an equally rich rock star husband makes it a lot easier to spend your days reading novels, shopping at fancy stores, and traveling to exotic places."

That brings us back to the life-advice-from-a-star issue. Women are unlikely to line up to hear Paltrow explain how she has perfected the art of living. It's a tricky line you have to walk, if you want to advise the fair sex. You really ought to have suffered some sort of great hardship and loss. It also helps if you struggle ceaselessly with your weight, and it's a bonus if your domestic arrangements are on the freakish side. As evidence, I offer this list of successful, beloved female advice purveyors: Oprah. Martha. Suze. Rosie. Tyra.

Not a rock star husband among them. Come to think of it, not a husband among them.

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maria.russo@latimes.com

For more on Web entertainment and connected culture, go to the webscout blog at latimes.com/webscout.

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