For Wednesday, September 12

  1.  If you haven’t, set up your blog and send me the link so I can add it to this class blog.
  2. Narrow down your “ambassadorship” topic, if you haven’t (your Short Paper 2, about your topic and why you chose it, is due on Friday.)
  3. Begin blogging:  write a post on your blog about something you’re thinking about.  For example, you might link to a piece you read and post about what you noticed.
  4. Read three profiles of actors in the NY times: How Goop’s Haters Made Gwyneth Paltrow’s Company Worth $250 Million,  Ethan Hawke is Still Taking Ethan Hawke Extremely Seriously, and Riz Ahmed Acts His Way Out of Every Cultural Pigeonhole.  In a comment to this post, write your reflections, focusing primarily one one of the three pieces, but mentioning the others.  What struck you about the star being profiled?  What did you notice about how the author crafted the profile? Or anything else you’d like to say.
  5. Decide who you’d like to interview for the profile you will write.  It should be someone you find interesting and think readers would find interesting too, someone local whom you can interview in the next week or so.   We will talk in class about how to prepare for that interview.

7 thoughts on “For Wednesday, September 12”

  1. I am choosing to focus primarily on the Gwyneth Paltrow NY times piece. There was a lot that struck me about this article in particular. I feel like I have not kept up with Gwyneth Paltrow over the years, but when reading this article I was struck by how much she actually is doing. I had no idea she was doing this well or even what she was up to over the last years until I read this article. Who knew she had a net worth of 250 Million dollars? I certainly did not. There were a lot of things I liked about how the author crafted the profile. I like how the author used numerous quotes throughout the article as well as pictures, same with the author in the other two articles. In the Gwyneth Paltrow article and in the Riz Ahmed article in the beginning the author talks about when they first saw the person they were interviewing. In this article, the author talked about how Paltrow was sitting in the classroom at one of the desks just on her phone waiting for everybody to come in. In the Riz Ahmed article, the author talked about how Riz arrived late to the interview, speed walking to shake the authors hand with enthusiasm. I like the way the authors included this. It makes the person they were interviewing seem more personable in my opinion. This made me want to continue reading the article because I love when a celebrity is seen as someone who is relatable and approachable. I also loved the way the author in Gwyneth’s piece took us through a step by step process through her journey in establishing her company. It was not just a quick summary of what she was doing, but an in depth process of how she started her idea and what it has evolved to and who helped her along the way.


  2. Reflection

    I really liked the the piece about Ethan Hawke. I thought the author wrote a well crafter profile, starting with all of the criticism Hawke received and really taking the audience through his journey. When I began reading the profile I had no idea it was going to go in the direction that it did. He used the criticism as fuel to achieve greatness and Oscar nominations. He learned to digest the critics saying things like he is “too serious to be a movie star” and he has the “mindset of an actor not a director”. He chose to pursue what he was passionate about and not what others told him he should be doing. On the other hand, Gwyneth Paltrow’s was structured very differently. It started with her successes and slowly began to show how “her business depended on no one ever being able to be her”. The profile did show her commitment to her business that covers to many popular industries, but I got a bit of a negative impression of her based on how she was portrayed. Lastly, Ahmed’s profile was very intriguing to read. It showed how on screen he has this personality that he interpret as his, but in real life he has a direct intensity about him. I appreciated how it portrayed his passion for debate, and I really liked the line “he doesn’t want to do away with categories; he wants them to be big enough to include reality”. This really resonated with me because I don’t think categories are necessarily a bad thing, but they often are not broad enough to include average people.


  3. After reading Ethan Hawk’s profile by Taffy, I appreciate Hawke more as an artist than just a movie star that I previously knew of. This all attributes to Taffy: she is so good at capturing the essence of the actor’s personality. It struck me that unlike many other celebrities, Mr. Hawke would be willing to turn down fame to choose art with sincerity. Many values propagated nowadays in the social media are misleading like mammonism or materialism. For all the three pieces that I read, the authors stunned me that as if they are the actor and actress’s mother or father because they know them so well. The way the authors present their words and thoughts just look like they were in my immediate vicinity. And three pieces are also in the trajectory of something that throughout the text to present insights to the reader: Goop’s culture, Mr. Hawke’s way of pursuing art and ‘Renaissance man’


  4. Upon choosing to focus on Gweneth Paltrow’s profile in particular, I realize now that I knew very little about the accomplished actress. For example, I had never heard of Goop prior to the article. I typically have a general awareness of prominent brands such as Goop, but somehow never once heard about the success of the brand. Thus, it was especially surprising to discover that the brand was worth over $250 million. With regard to the conceptual aspects of the brand, I was initially surprised that the brand marketed items that were considered to be high-class and expensive. I would have assumed that the brand would only appeal to more elite classes and would have less widespread success across different socioeconomic classes. Then, upon further thought, I realized that humans always seek things perceived to be out of reach regardless of socioeconomic status. Many people aspire to live the glamorous life that a celebrity such as Gweneth Paltrow does, as exemplified by the author’s tendency to compare her own life to the actress’s. The author’s decision to draw attention to her own insecurities upon meeting Paltrow reveal that the structure of the profile was meant to show how Goop has achieved the success it has. Despite concerns of elitism, a brand like Goop can and will effectively exploit people’s insecurities and dissatisfaction. Any criticism the brand received enhanced its exposure to the public, giving it more of a chance to work its magic. Criticism additionally worked in Ethan Hawke’s favor, as his profile explains that negative reviews of his acting heightened his desire to pursue roles he loved, and that would eventually warrant widespread acclaim. In addition, I enjoyed learning about the authenticity of Riz Ahmed, and how he’s not fond of being labeled political when he is simply expressing his thoughts naturally.


  5. I found the profile on Gwyneth Paltrow and her company “Goop” extremely intriguing, but also a bit terrifying. The author (Taffy) builds her profile through both observations of GP in her daily life and through the multiple discussions they had. GP comes across as a perfectly nice and fine person, but almost too perfect. Taffy displays this well by contrasting her own life with GP’s. At dinner, she contrasts her experience with GP’s children to how her own children would have acted. GP’s children are perfect; they give handshakes and introductions with proper eye contact, they are extremely polite, and they of their own accord decide to practice their instruments. They too, embody the image GP has created to sell all kinds of products with Goop. Taffy’s children in comparison are rude and full of blemishes, but in reality they seem far more realistic and authentic. The same comparison holds true for GP and her customer base with Goop. A bunch of people without the money or resources to live a “perfect” life like hers, throwing money at the person who has already attained that lifestyle in dire hopes of attaining it for themselves. The added caveat that a significant number of Goop’s products are a bunch of pseudoscience nonsense only make things worse. It reminds me of those Facebook multi level marketing schemes that sell “natural oils” and pills that lose weight for you, just with a celebrity’s face slapped on top of it. Hawke and Achmed are both driven in creating art that is meaningful to them or displaying themselves in an authentic way. GP seems more concerned with making money, and has gone morally bankrupt.


  6. The Ethan Hawke article is one that struck me the most. The author of this article chose an interesting angle to approach this actor from. For example, usually when you think of a profile piece you are thinking that, “oh this author is going to praise him/her for a couple thousand words.” However, this author clearly took a different approach by definitely critiquing Hawke by saying he “took himself too seriously.” And as someone who doesn’t really know who Ethan Hawke is – the fact is his work is for the most part unknown. The author took a more negative tone when talking about Hawke than the author that did the profile of Gwenyth Paltrow (G.P). However, the tone was overall positive by saying that Ethan had a unique life motto that was to ignore what the outside world and people were saying you should do, and just go out and do what you wanna do. He was a firm believer in the “ignore what the world says about you and focus on you.” I thought this was really interesting because your life is literally comprised of critics criticizing your work, getting paid to do so, and also discouraging others from viewing it. So, sometimes it can be hard to simply ignore people telling you you aren’t good. Later on, when talking about Ethan Hawke’s life down the road when he is older it begins to give him some more credit for being a serious actor as it suited his maturity a bit more. In comparison to the piece about Paltrow, (which did nothing but praise her beauty and intelligence) this one was a lot more critical of Hawke’s work, but praised his integrity and character (which is honestly more important). The author who wrote about G.P’s lifestyle company made it seem like this company was really only successful because of that innate “want” or “need” for some people to literally be G.P. Overall, both of these authors did an excellent job of constructing accurate profiles of these famous individuals (even if it meant being negative at some points.)


  7. While reading these pieces, I noticed that every person being profiled seemed to come across as very genuine. Every one of them were pursuing something that a regular person might think is a little unobtainable. I was particularly focused on the piece about Ethan Hawke, as he really had to struggle to get his acting career off the ground and running. The fact that pretty much every time he tried to do anything other than acting he was met with extremely negative reviews is astonishing, as he had to keep trying over and over again knowing that it would probably fail. That mental ability to forge on even after all the critics are trying to tell you to stop surprised me. Since acting is what I assume to be one of the most difficult jobs to become successful in considering that so many people try, I would think that after failing for so long he would try something else and stop. That’s why I was similarly interested in the business that Gwyneth Paltrow’s was trying to start. Both people had overwhelming evidence to try and stop, with Ethan’s lack of success, and Gwyneth’s attempting to push her own agenda through the simple fact of her fame. Because of this, it was incredible difficult for them to get these dreams and make them reality. Riz Ahmed’s in a slightly different boat, where he is mostly upset about being called political and wants to get less exposure because of that. His attempt to come across as a more genuine, yet incredibly energetic person, rather than just a political machine who states his opinion all the time is what he is trying to do that is similar to the other two articles. However, the three people chosen are obviously outside the typical type of person that you see every day. It was hard to tell if they were trying to be inspirational and along the lines of “anyone can do anything” or if they were just simply striving to make these three people’s public images better.


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