Celebrity Snake Oil

Jen Gunter makes an observation:

It is the standard Paltrow profile. They are never interviews. There are no real questions and of course no answers. Even when she was interviewed earlier this year by the BBC and asked about me (that “Canadian gynecologist”) she gave a non answer that was simply accepted and the reporter moved on.

As we rarely, if ever, read an actual interview with Paltrow it suggests to me they are not allowed. It would be nice if reporters and publications included the terms that got them access to publish images of Paltrow in a bikini.

There are, broadly speaking, two types of media interview: celebrity interviews and investigative interviews.

Celebrity interviews are basically marketing. Some celebrity — be they an actor, musician, writer or whatever — releases a piece of entertainment and then starts touring media outlets to promote their product. There is nothing inherently wrong with this but we do need to keep in mind that this sort of content is promotional and that neither the interviewer or interviewee expects any difficult questions to be either asked or answered.

Investigative interviews, on the other hand do — or should — involve difficult questions. These are the interviews in which the interviewer seeks to reveal facts on which the interviewee would rather not dwell: a political reporter trying to establish the consequences of a proposed policy; for example, or an investigative journalist seeking to hold to account an exploitative or dishonest business owner.

It’s when the dishonest business owner is also a celebrity that problems begin to arise.

While Gwyneth Paltrow should be challenged about her business and her business practices, she is instead talking to people whose idea of a tough question is to ask whether Pepper Potts will be in the next Avengers film. And Paltrow gets to promote her business to a journalist whose job it is to help her promote her business.

I have no problem with Paltrow giving celebrity interviews to celebrity interviewers to talk about her celebrity activities. But the celebrity interviewers need to recognise that they do not have the skills or experience needed to hold Paltrow the businesswoman to account and should stay well away from talking about GOOP.