I very much enjoyed Bethlehem Shoals referring to Gwyneth Paltrow as “Goop” in the second sentence of his piece about Country Strong and Townes Van Zandt on Friday. I would like it if the nickname stuck. For a few reasons, I guess, but mostly because Goop is also the name of a character on my six-year-old kid’s favorite television show, “Ben 10 Alien Force.”
Are you up on “Ben 10”? It’s a pretty good show for the type of show that six-year-old boys like. The hero, Ben Tennyson, has a special watch-like gizmo called The Omnitrix which allows him transform into various aliens from different planets in his efforts to save the earth from intergalactic villains like Vilgax and Aggregor. Ben could choose from a field of ten different aliens, originally. But he can now apparently access many other forms, and the show has actually changed its name to “Ben 10 Ultimate Alien.” It’s pretty complex. Goop was one of the original ten alien forms Ben could assume. His species is a “polymorph,” according to the copy of Ben 10 Ultimate Alien Ultimate Guide Book (2010, Cartoon Network/Scholastic) that stays on the floor next to my kid’s bed. (And which, yuck!, smells like chocolate — which is now on my fingers and the keyboard to my computer. Apparently, my kid has been eating chocolate while looking at this book. Hopefully not while in bed. It was maybe not such a good idea to go to primary source material for this post. Should have just stayed with Wikipedia.) Anyway, “Ben will often transform into Goop when he needs to get into a tight space,” it says. “Goop can slip under a door and then reform into a humanoid shape.”
The fact that Goop is a 200-pound ball of shape-shifting slime reminds me of Paltrow’s performance in the 2001 movie Shallow Hal, in which she plays two versions of the same character, Rosemary. Rosemary is an obese person whom no one finds attractive. But because he’s been hypnotized by Tony Robbins, Hal, as played by Jack Black, sees only her “inner-beauty,” and falls in love with her. This is supposed to impart a positive message about the importance of being a good person and the disproportionate value society puts on traditional standards of physical beauty. But since Paltrow wears a great big fat-suit for scenes in which the viewer sees her in “real life,” and is slim and blonde and radiant in all her traditional beauty for the scenes in which we watch Jack Black fall in love with her, it doesn’t really work out that way. The movie was directed by the Farrelly Brothers.
Also, the Guidebook says that Goop the Ben 10 alien “secretes a powerful acid he can shoot out at opponents.” This reminds me of the time in the otherwise strangely compelling movie, Duets, when Paltrow sings Smokey Robinson’s “Cruisin’” with Huey Lewis, and we all had to feel it burn through our skin for months afterward (years, even) since it became an actual radio hit that you’d hear in the supermarket and Duane Reade and stuff. Remember that pain, and the acrid smell of burning flesh before you decide whether or not to press play here:
But I don’t mean to come down too hard on Goop — Gwyneth Paltrow, I mean. I should point out I that I thought she was good in The Royal Tennenbaums and The Talented Mr. Ripley and in the Iron Man movies. And, you know, she might like it if everyone started calling her Goop all the time. She must like the word, despite the fact that it rhymes with poop (or maybe because of that!). After all, that’s what she chose to call her website about how to live on $3,606.50 a day.