I recently made a list of celebrities who have Gwynethed, which is when a formerly cool celebrity starts becoming intolerable. Whenever I introduce a made-up term there is a lot of confusion about what qualifies as an example of that phenomenon. For example, when I started a yuppy expensive drinks blog, I ended up needing to elaborately justify why certain drinks were yuppy expensive drinks and others weren’t.
I realized that what is happening to Miley Cyrus right now could be confused as an example of Gwynething, when it’s something different entirely. Here’s why:
1. Miley Cyrus was never cool
Gwyneth Paltrow was genuinely, arguably “cool” for awhile, mostly because she played Margot Tenenbaum. Zooey Deschanel, another fully Gwynethed star, was hot/ cool /complicated in Almost Famous and adorable/funny in Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy before she became songbirds, bows and hearts. Miley Cyrus may have been cool for people who think that “Achey Breaky Heart” and Hannah Montana are the apexes of culture, but she was more obnoxious yet cookie cutter than anything. She has nowhere to go but up.
2. Miley is not becoming more intolerable
As Miley leaves her Disney childhood behind, she gets her first chance to become indie/ complicated/ cool, and she’s taking it. When a star is truly Gwynething, they are misunderstanding the role we want them to play in culture, like how Gwyneth thinks we want her to tell us to do yoga, or like when Green Day got the idea that we wanted them to write political songs. Miley knows that we want her to look interesting and maybe get photographed riding a skateboard with her legs looking nice, and by god is she delivering. Her new makeover is adequately reflecting her journey toward self-discovery and into deeper, edgier subcultures, or at least the fact that she has her own dubstep Rachel Zoe styling her behind the scenes. I celebrate it.
If anything, Miley is Nicole Richie-ing, although I don’t think that this process is common enough for Nicole Richie-ing to become a thing. Think about it. Nicole Richie used to be Paris Hilton’s less-hot, obnoxious sidekick who was mildly intolerable and lame, and then suddenly she transformed into a wry, beautiful style icon that made Paris Hilton look downright basic. Let’s see if Miley can fully butterfly into a Nicole.