Celeb sites tackle big issues

Paltrow, Poehler endorse life philosophies

Tuesday, April 7th, 2009

GOOP, Smart Girls at the Party, and Soul Pancake

Some celebrities endorse fashion lines and perfumes. Some, on the other hand, endorse entire life philosophies.

Across the fame spectrum, A-list actresses like Gwyneth Paltrow to performers like Saturday Night Live alumna Amy Poehler and The Office’s Rainn Wilson are among the first wave of celebrities to create websites aimed at the greater issues in life, such as spirituality, feminism and philosophy.

Harnessing the democratic power of the Internet, these celebrities are spreading ideas that may not come across in their other work. Namely, these celebs tackle the way you, the viewer, live your life, offering up everything from practical tips to philosophical musings for you to chew on.

Paltrow’s now infamous lifestyle site GOOP.com, with the soothing " and mystifying tagline, “Nourish the inner aspect,” offers everything the new age mom requires. The user can click on icons like “Make,” “Go” and “Get” that link to “newsletters” " posts written by Paltrow herself.

The newsletters contain advice that is usually preceded by an anecdote from Paltrow’s privileged lifestyle. This personalized style makes it seem as if the actress is addressing you face-to-face, although the site’s soft colours and spare design " along with Paltrow’s Oprah-style tone of address " often feels distancing rather than comforting.

Amy Poehler, on the other hand, approaches do-it-yourself from another angle. Her self-produced online video series “Smart Girls at the Party” " created with her two best friends " profiles “girls who are changing the world just by being themselves.”

With her trademark humour and deadpan delivery, Poehler investigates the younger generation’s thoughts on feminism and gives them a forum to communicate their ideas with the written word, artwork, music and dance.

A highlight of the series’ first season is Poehler’s interview with seven-year-old Ruby, who, having already met feminist Gloria Steinem and self-published a book, may be the world’s youngest feminist.

Another recently launched site is Rainn Wilson’s effort SoulPancake.com, an online community that encourages relaxed, open discussions of philosophy and spirituality sprinkled with doses of irreverent comedy. Users can participate in forums and comment on posts by Wilson, best known for his role as Dwight in The Office and other users.

With the tagline “Let’s Talk About Something Real,” the site aims to spur dialogue on topics that rarely get talked about on a big scale. As the site states, “There’s a lot of crap out on these here internets. We want to cut through the mindless dribble and get focused on why we’re alive.”

With the promotional heft of celebrities like Paltrow, Poehler and Wilson behind them, it is possible that these lofty goals can be recognized.

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