For the Love of God and All That Is Holy: Go Away, Celebrity Websites
So. Being famous now equates with being a business owner, I see. At least, that’s the impression I get from all the artisan/high-principled/my-shit-smells-like-roses celebrity websites popping up. Remind me to trade in my MBA for some bleach and a boob job.
Oh, for fuck’s sake, Reese Witherspoon. I thought you were cool. You were the one who ended up marrying a non-celebrity, who makes her kids’ lunches herself, who might actually be really fun to get drunk with. But now, you too? You’ve jumped on the lifestyle-oriented celebrity website bandwagon? GTFO my house.
It all started when I came across this gem of a Jezebel article about DraperJames.com, Witherspoon’s newly-curated online shopping destination, boasting all things Southern, charming, and pretty. She’s the latest in a line of stars taking a stab at such endeavors, with names like Blake Lively, Jessica Alba and Gwyneth Paltrow behind her. They’re all leading double lives as not only Hollywood actresses, but also, enough of self-proclaimed masters of something – food, clothing, hand-crafted goods, diapers – to create digital retail destinations that bring together only the finest products and insights that will help you, too, live as fabulously as they do.
You know what Draper James looks like to me? A linen-sheathed douche ad.
Okay. Perhaps I’m bitter. In the progression of my own life, no where along the way was I gifted with the metabolism, leg length or connections to become a millionaire celebrity. Not yet, anyway. I haven’t made enough movies to be in a stratospheric tax bracket, and launching my business required securing capital of my own. Unlike the rich and famous, I don’t have personal assistants or a paid team of experts to tell me what to do. I have to be the expert. I have two unpaid interns, a small business loan, and an MBA. Forgive me, then, if I perceive such celebrity websites as a slap in the face to the genuinely scrappy among we entrepreneurs.
Perhaps I’m not giving these ladies enough credit. It’s not as if they haven’t put forth effort anywhere. Witherspoon, for her part, has made some fantastic films, and even Paltrow has her likable side; back when “Glee” was worth watching, for example, she pretty much nailed the recurring role of Holly Holiday. And Alba, for her part, is actually a bit of a pioneer, with her founding of The Honest Company. That, I admit, was a pretty good idea.
In fact, here’s what I like about Alba: Once she realized her success with The Honest Company, she stopped pretending to be something else, like, say, a talented actress. That’s my real issue with the rest of the ladies of the equation. Are you really entrepreneurs? Does it really matter to you, Paltrow, how much kale we peons consume day-to-day, or the fact that so many people don’t even have accessibility to good food, let alone cost-prohibitive skin-brightening supplements made from the urine of Pacific sea otters? And by the way, Witherspoon, do you actually care about the wellbeing of the silversmiths crafting your bowls?
There’s a tremendous opportunity among the exorbitantly wealthy to stand for something good. Of course, encouraging entrepreneurship among women and girls is a fabulous thing, especially when it’s mission-oriented or social. It seems, though, as if most of these celebreneurs are missing the target. Most of them claim to have some sort of altruistic side; Draper James, for instance, vaguely brags about its “support” of Girls Inc., while Blake Lively’s Preserve website makes this doozy of a proclamation:
“We celebrate and indulge in treasures both high and low featured on Preserve. But we’re very aware that a lot of what we are selling is outlandish in a world with so many problems and so much suffering. We have to give back in some way. Even if it’s small, nothing is insignificant. This is our community. We have set our first goal of giving 5,000 children a meal, 2,000 children a blanket, and 2,700 children a warm hoodie, all within the U.S, through a partnership with Covenant House. We are putting 5% of our sales toward this goal, so every time you make a purchase, you’re contributing, too. We’re a small, but growing company. Our giving reflects our age. As we mature so will our contribution both fiscally and physically. Help us grow. Help us give.”
Ugh. Seriously? Look, Lively. You’ve got a net worth of $16 million. If you’re so ashamed of being “outlandish” and truly care about the suffering of others, then focus on that. Dedicate all of your time to the Covenant House, and publicize the shit out of that. Or, at the very least, point to how Preserve is benefitting the economy, creating jobs for those who need them (and where they are the most needed), and carefully selecting talented artificers in impoverished regions. Oh, what’s that? Preserve isn’t doing any of those things? You just saw an opportunity to turn a profit and are dressing it up in a humanitarian costume? My mistake.
Not all hope is lost, I suppose. Olivia Wilde, for example, is doing exactly what I wish the Paltrows, Livleys and Witherspoons of the world would do with Conscious Commerce, in its practice of “pointing you in the direction of cool, ethically sound businesses [and pairing] some of our favorite brands with small, locally run organizations, to create limited edition products. These exciting collaborations are our way of bringing together consciousness and commerce, and making them make sweet, sweet love.”
Share the love, ladies. But please: Until you can authentically do so, don’t try to fake it.
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