Hollywood actress and founder of online lifestyle site Goop.com Gwyneth Paltrow has been receiving some flak for her statements made during a recent tech forum where she was one of the guest speakers. Not that this is the first time she has been the subject of controversy after stating her opinion about something, but this time her comments had caught the attention of folks who, shall we say, take life a little too seriously than her. One of those folks is Cindy McCain, the wife of ex-prisoner of war and Senator John McCain. McCain called Paltrow “a joke” and challenged her to go out on patrol with some soldiers, most probably so the actress could get some perspective in life.
To be honest, while I thought it was harmless, I already knew that Paltrow’s statements would attract more hostility and less sympathy because most people will quickly see it simply as a “celebrity complaining about the negative stuff she reads about herself online”. However, in my opinion, I think Paltrow was on to something and I think McCain overreacted to Paltrow’s use of the word “war” in referring to what she goes through with her online haters.
I suppose being married to a war veteran and having children in the military makes one a bit too jumpy when others use the word “war” to refer to the struggles in their ordinary civilian lives, which is probably why Cindy McCain thought it was her responsibility to speak on behalf of all the men in the military and emphasize the fact that their struggles – what they go through in the trenches – is so much harder than what celebrities like Gwyneth Paltrow go through with her battle with online trolls.
Here’s what Paltrow said about her experience with her online haters:
“You come across [online comments] about yourself and about your friends, and it’s a very dehumanizing thing. It’s almost like how, in war, you go through this bloody, dehumanizing thing, and then something is defined out of it,” she said. “My hope is, as we get out of it, we’ll reach the next level of conscience.”
While most of us are grateful for the “sacrifices” the men in the military make so that ordinary folks like us can continue to “enjoy” our lives, I think none of us, including people in the military or those with relatives in the military are in a position to judge how others deal with their struggles in life. We all made choices. Some chose to be in the military and some chose to make movies.
In fact, people in the entertainment industry, at least those who are really talented, have been used in the past to put people’s spirits up in times of crises. During the Great Depression in the 1930s, child star Shirley Temple kept everyone going.
As long as our country has Shirley Temple, we will be all right,” President Roosevelt declared. “When the spirit of the people is lower than at any other time during this Depression, it is a splendid thing that for just 15 cents, an American can go to a movie and look at the smiling face of a baby and forget his troubles.
One cannot compare people’s abilities and their constitutions in life. Some people who are physically tougher than others — those who can withstand being in the battlefield in harsh conditions — can also be affected by what people say online about them. In the same way, the people who are considered beautiful and have the best things in life can also be affected by what people say online about them. It is likely that if someone wrote nasty stuff about the McCains online, they will get affected too and speak about the horrors of online trolls.
Online vitriol can actually wreak havoc on the subject’s mind. Countless of people have committed suicide after being bullied online. In short, online war games is another thing we humans have to struggle with altogether.
Sure, Gwyneth Paltrow is a highly-paid movie star. Sure, we can say that she has all the money in the world to buy something nice for herself so she can forget about her haters. But the way I see it is this: when she made her feelings known and told the audience how “dehumanizing” it is to read some of the stuff people say about her, she was just being human. I mean, I don’t think there’s anyone who wouldn’t get affected after reading fabricated stories about themselves that their loved ones could stumble upon one day and believe as truth. Even if it doesn’t affect you initially because you know it’s not true, your mother or your children could get upset by it and eventually, it could affect you. Lest we forget, nasty things people say about you stay online for as long as the site exhibiting it is still up.
The Internet is an amazing opportunity, socially. We have this opportunity to mature and learn, which is the essence of being on earth — to being the closest person we can be to our actual, real, truest self,” she said ahead of her surprise appearance at the Code Conference today. “But the Internet also allows us the opportunity to project outward our hatred, our jealousy. It’s culturally acceptable to be an anonymous commenter. It’s culturally acceptable to say, ‘I’m just going to take all of my internal pain and externalize it anonymously.
To those who dismiss Paltrow as just another dumb blonde, I think they are being narrow-minded. In fact, you can say that Paltrow is different from celebrities like Paris Hilton or Kim Kardashian who come across as space cadets. In contrast, those two don’t seem to get affected by what people say about them. I only say this because they don’t seem to care if they become the world’s laughingstock. I guess it’s good for them because they can simply continue to party. The only downside is, they appear uncaring and self-centered. I would rather have Gwyneth Paltrow anytime. Her views are okay. At least she is trying to remind online abusers to think about other people’s feelings before writing their obscenities down. Maybe people like Cindy McCain should join her on the red carpet to get some perspective on what a celebrity’s life is like.
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