Sunday, April 19, 2015
Oscar Wilde once wrote, "Charity creates a multitude of sins." One of these charity-created sins happened on Twitter this past week, when Gwyneth Paltrow showed off her expertise at being poor in order to win a contest to raise awareness on how much money and smarts it takes to be a gourmand using a SNAP card. Turns out, Gwyneth wasn't as snappy as she'd thought she could be (she wound up being three days short on her week of kindness), but the snarling trolling masses sure gave it to her and then some. I happen to be one of the snarling trolls, so this post isn't going to be about how "we should give sweet Gwyneth a break! I mean, even when she's trying to do something good people destroy her!"
I'm thinking the "doing good" part is exactly what she needs to be snarled at for.
The decorous, glamorous charity industry for which Gwyneth might be the poster child is a machine like any other machine, and while it is obviously necessary it usually (like Gwyneth) does not get the job done, "the job" being solving problems like poverty, hunger, fill in the blank. It's an ongoing saga. We raise awareness, get aware, have a charity ball, do a charity stunt, raise some cash, and it's all still there, right? Poverty, disease, hunger. Charity becomes a part of the process, not a solution, just another box to check, and part of that sense of complacency is only aided and abetted by the Paltrows of the world, who seem to think a glossy take on something as serious as not having enough to eat is a sort of tricky little parlor game to play, to Instagram, to tweet, and then now move on to the next issue, next trend, next product.
I know it's like I'm gluttonously unloading on Gwyneth but I'm pretty sure she doesn't give a shit. And I'm also pretty sure that she's genuinely decent, but also impossibly arrogant and privileged to the point she felt she could shed light on a big problem by doing something stupidly small and then taking a picture of it with her I-Phone. Look at that mess up there, those goddamn limes. It just infuriates me because even if she did get the hunger thing right, what would that do? Would the food-stamp issue be solved? Would we be closer to Utopia?
What that silly cornucopia up there is about is Gwyneth, not hunger, not awareness. At the end of the day it's just another form of her ongoing branding campaign. Gwyneth as green goddess. Gwyneth, Queen of the Limes. Her esoteric take on something as bluntly obvious as not having enough food-stamps is so horrible because it perverts the situation to the point that you stop giving a shit about the whole thing. She has done the exact opposite of raising awareness. She raised a big stink and now nobody wants to know.