John Mayer, Lifestyle Man-Boy
When I read Gwyneth Paltrow’s interview in Lenny Letter, it reminded me of Leonardo DiCaprio. Or rather, Lainey’s characterization of Leonardo DiCaprio. You know how Lainey loves to refer to Leo’s STRUGGLE filming The Revenant? How he STRUGGLED? How that STRUGGLE won him an Oscar?
Well this is what a lot of Gwyneth’s interviews in lifestyle have come down to. How she has DISCOVERED newsletters, DISCOVERED conscious uncoupling, DISCOVERED the secrets to health. Gwyneth will never miss a chance to tell you that she DISCOVERED vaginal steaming. Gwyneth positions herself as a trailblazer in newsletters (even though Daily Candy launched in 2000) and thinks that it is all part of her calling, her reason for being on this earth. And all this DISCOVERY has made people critical and scared of her. Goop is so revolutionary people want her out of the game.
People make fun of goop, but I don’t know if I’ve ever read anything that said Gwyneth shouldn’t be doing lifestyle, or doesn’t belong in lifestyle. She’s blonde, wealthy and well connected. She is aspiration and lifestyle personified. She namechecks Ashton Kutcher as an example of male entrepreneurial freedom, and people make fun of him all the time.
People don’t roll their eyes at celebrities who are trying something new – no one thinks America Ferrera shouldn’t compete in a triathlon (which she did, before the Emmys!) because she’s an actress. People have become wary of the constant sell and the constant scolding. Gwyneth and Ashton are both scolders when it comes to the public’s interest in their personal life, but sellers in their professional life. The line is often blurred – Gwyneth will use a photo of her children in her cookbooks, but wouldn’t walk a red carpet with her (now ex) husband – and building a lifestyle based around one’s life requires a bit of compromise in the privacy department.
You know who’s not a scolder? Very successful lifestyle juggernaut Jessica Simpson. Maybe that’s why she’s been so embraced by consumers. I get the feeling that if you interview Jessica Simpson about her shoes, you aren’t handed an off-limits list by her publicist beforehand.
When I see celebrities trying to build a lifestyle brand, I always wonder how they would do at a public event at Macy’s (which Jessica often participates in), or a trade show. But most of them don’t have to worry about that, because they are insulated from that specific kind of grind. Instead, they get to work on collaborations with established brands, attend controlled press events, maybe give a fluff interview, and throw up a few products on their website.
This is where someone like John Mayer (or, Adam Levine) comes in. When I came across a story on his new jewellery line, with “Love is A Verb” (yes, he’s quoting his own song) and friendship-style woven bracelets with his initials (UM), do you think I, or anyone else, thinks “Well good for John Mayer spreading his wings”?
No, I wondered who would willingly rock John Mayer’s beaded neon chain.
Same with his new laundry detergent collaboration. He’s teamed with The Laundress (which is a great brand) on a John Mayer scent. Half the proceeds go to a land conservation and the detergent will smell like “ultimate fresh, clean laundry.” Yes, usually clean laundry smells like clean laundry.
There’s nothing egregious about a collaboration or creating beaded jewellery. Are we rolling our eyes harder at John than we would at a woman? No, probably just the same.
John Mayer has an advantage – working with great brands and a website to sell whatever he wants. Gwyneth has had advantages. Jessica has had advantages. Ashton has had advantages. (Namely, money and endless publicity.) This is what we roll our eyes at, particularly when there is no acknowledgement that fame facilitates the side job that, for Gwyneth and Jessica, turned into full-time jobs.
But with John, I am a bit more curious than usual. Will he be able to actually make a run at a proper lifestyle brand? Don’t you think John would love to tell you where to get the best French press coffee in Bushwick and where to stay when you are in Portland? He is exactly that dude.