Since it launched in 2008, Gwyneth Paltrow has used her lifestyle newsletter called Goop to school us, on the virtues of $200 track pants, the delights of a springtime jaunt to Tokyo and the deliciousness of dark, leafy greens. So it was only fitting that yesterday, at 6:08 EST, the always polarizing actress used the Goop website to announce her split from her husband, Coldplay front man Chris Martin. Or rather, to announce her “conscious uncoupling,” which is how Paltrow is spinning this latest life transition. In a letter to subscribers, the couple explains that they have been working their marriage for “well over a year” and that they have reached this decision together.
Do the rumours about Paltrow’s affair with the billionaire Jeff Soffer (the ones that were supposed to come out in the Vanity Fair takedown that never was) have anything to do with it? Who knows. Martin’s alleged taste for young model types? No idea. And really, the particulars of another celebrity marriage biting the dust aren’t nearly as interesting as how the Goop brand plans to rise from the ashes.
And make no mistake – that is what we’re witnessing here. I’m not saying that Paltrow is indifferent to her separation. Only that, now that the writing is on blog, there is an image to control, starting with the fact that the split was revealed on said blog in the first place. Celebrities don’t make their own big announcements – publicists and agents do that for them. But when the time came to drop this undeniably golden gossip bomb, she did it in a way that was not only public, but beneficial to her brand: the Goop website crashed last night; everyone on Twitter (finally) started talking about something other than that episode of The Good Wife. There are also the less immediate wins. “The Goop website is always dealing with wellness and spiritual healing,” says Elaine Lui of the website Lainey Gossip. “I wouldn’t be surprised if, in the coming weeks we start to see posts about rebirth, new beginnings, whatever.”
In this sense, linking her role as a lifestyle guru with her soon-to-be divorcée status is logical. It could even make her more likeable and relatable (two things that haven’t come easily to little miss “I’d rather die than let my kid eat Cup-a-Soup”), except wait – what was that term? Right: “Conscious uncoupling.”
It’s been 12 years since GP went bra-less to the Oscars. Not since then have I felt so compelled to ask – what on earth was she thinking? Just because she used her website as her mouthpiece doesn’t mean that us regular folk really believe that Paltrow doesn’t have “people.” Were none of them brave enough to say, “Gwyneth, referring to your separation in these terms is going to result in the biggest collective eye roll since that time you said you have the butt of a 22-year-old stripper.”
At best “conscious uncoupling” is laughable. At worst, it’s insulting to other couples who are, by implication, approaching their breakups like lesser-than zombies. At the moment, it’s a hashtag, which is presumably what Paltrow wanted given the timing of the announcement. Most celebs (Brad and Jen, Demi and Ashton) go public with this sort of news later in the week so that the shock can die down over the weekend. Tuesday at suppertime means none of the trashy tabloids will have Goop on the cover, but that the rest of the world will be glued to their computer screens. “Gwyneth lives on the Internet now,” says Lui. “She wants to be the focus of attention.” What she does not want anybody’s pity, which is probably why her breakup reveal all-but-overlapped with last night’s 8 p.m. episode of Glee.
I don’t watch the show, so I can’t say what plot was advanced by a lamé-clad Paltrow singing Eddie Murphy’s 1980s dance anthem Party All the Time, while dancing in a sea of soap bubbles. I can say that this was obviously a conscious decision – one intended to show the world that in spite of the sad news, Gwyneth Paltrow is not broken. She is happy and loving life and ultimately just more evolved than the married masses.
In the longer Goop post that follows the message from Paltrow and Martin, Dr. Habib Sadeghi talks about how human kind is neither biologically nor psychologically built to endure relationships that are five or six decades long. In other words, marriage is the new Cup-a-Soup. Or is it Easy Cheese? Gluten? No doubt Gwyneth will let us know in the near future.
A previous version of this article said there are rumours Gwyneth Paltrow is having an affair with a billionaire. His name was incorrectly stated as Jeff Sober, rather than the correct Jeff Soffer.