As one could have easily predicted, the actress's comparison of reading negative online comments about herself to being at war isn't sitting well with many, including Senator John McCain's wife, Cindy.
Paltrow, who's in the process of "conscious uncoupling" with Chris Martin, made the analogy at Tuesday's Re/Code tech conference. Addressing the widespread (and well-documented) criticism she receives, the Goop founder, 41, told the crowd, "You come across [online comments] about yourself and about your friends, and it's a very dehumanizing thing. It's almost like how, in war, you go through this bloody, dehumanizing thing, and then something is defined out of it."
While it was part of a larger conversation about the mean-spiritedness of online commenters, which we understand, Paltrow was swiftly criticized for the tasteless comparison. Cindy McCain, whose senator husband spent over five years in captivity as a prisoner of war in Vietnam and was left with lifelong injuries, was one of those who spoke out.
Gweneth Paltrow is a joke. Her life is like taking bullets for a soldier. What a joke! My 2 sons serving in the military should talk to her.— Cindy McCain (@cindymccain) May 29, 2014
Perhaps Gweneth Paltrow should go out on patrol with some soldiers. Kind of like a Red Carpet in her mind I guess!— Cindy McCain (@cindymccain) May 29, 2014
Beyond McCain's opinion, a Green Beret named Bryan Sikes had some tough words for the Iron Man actress.
"I could see how you, and others like you in 'the biz', could be so insecure and mentally weak that you could pair the difficulty of your life on twitter to my brothers who have had their limbs ripped off and seen their friends shot, blown up, burned and disfigured, or wake up every morning in pain – while just starting the day is a challenge," Sikes wrote in a blog post. "How about our wives? The ones that sign on to be there for us through thick and thin, that help us to shake the hardships of war upon our return? And do all this while being mothers to our kids, keeping bills in order because we are always gone, and keeping our lives glued together. They do all this, by the way, without a team of accountants, nanny’s, personal assistants, and life coaches. Yeah, reading a mean tweet is just like all that."
Michael McPhearson, executive director of the organization Veterans for Peace, gave a more measured response.
"Ms. Paltrow like most people has never been to war or had her life in real danger so she does not know what it is like to face war," he told Yahoo. "But she does know what it is like to be afraid and to feel belittled. These are the emotions I'm sure she feels when being attacked on the internet … Because Ms. Paltrow has not been in war and she has not faced war conditions like soldiers and victims of war, she has nothing to compare her personal dehumanizing experience to other than what she imagines war to be like. Her frame of reference is extremely skewed."
McPhearson continued: "As a combat veteran and father of a son who served a tour in Iraq, I am not upset with Ms. Paltrow. I am more concerned with the flurry of attention she receives for what is really a foolish and uneducated comment, but harmless; while there is little real debate about our nation’s wars and our need to find a different way to solve conflicts so that we can stop forcing our children and children around the world to face war. Every soldier and victim of war is someone’s child. No, Ms. Paltrow has no idea what she is talking about and she unknowingly belittles the experience of service members and the victims of war. However, no one should have to face the horrors of war; yet, far too any people do, including innocent people who have done nothing wrong and have little if anything to say about why they are caught in the crossfire of U.S. war. Let’s have a flurry of controversy and debate about that"
Twitter quickly blew up with negative reactions to Paltrow's remarks. Yahoo commenters didn't hold back either — among the 800-plus comments on our original story, the majority were negative, including this one from reader Fleur:
"Right because people saying things about you online is just as dehumanizing as having to kill people and watch your friends die right next to you. THIS is why people do not like you, Gwyneth: you NEVER think before you speak. Making a statement like that just shows how out of touch you are with reality."
Fellow commenter J A was more succinct, writing, "Well, i hope she gets mental help. Her narcissism is toxic."
Paltrow did have some defenders, including Marmalade, who wrote, "I don't like the people that don't like her…because they have no common sense or sense of fairness. or understanding. Big thumbs down on you and all the trolls like you!!!"
Sometimes it seems Paltrow can't win; she faces criticism no matter what she does. Other times, you can't help but think she brings many of these things on herself.