Blake Livley arriving at The 2014 CFDA Fashion Awards on June 2, 2014 in New York City. Photo: NCP/Star Max
Former Gossip Girl star and self-anointed 'celebrity homemaker' Blake Lively, 26, launched her new lifestyle website, Preserve.us on Tuesday. Promising to preserve 'taste', 'style', 'home' and 'intimacy' by, you know, selling stuff, the site uses the word ‘artisan’ a lot and reflects an artisan’s sensibility with a capital A. Think, sipping bacon-smoked whiskey from a Mason jar around a campfire somewhere in the starlit Mid West ... of Brooklyn. You’re wearing an authentic Sioux fringed jacket and leaning on your bearded lover's artfully tattooed shoulder while he captures the tableau on his Instagram through a sepia filter. (#Gettingbacktomyroots.) You're listening to Neil Young's Harvest and singing along to every third song. Like who cares? The guy wore great hats! And you can too - for $349.99!
Okay, look. Launching a website is hard and judging it in its first week is snarky, I admit. Because who knows how well it will do? UK newspaper The Guardian has called it 'another pandering mess of e-commerce' which is harsh. Indeed, most reviews are a little meh.
When really, why so meh? Just because there are already celeb lifestyle sites out there doesn't mean there can't be another.Besides, these are simply online extensions of what's been happening since Michael Jackson sang and danced for Pepsi back in 1984 – a super expensive celebrity endorsement where the risk of getting burned is high.
Lively's editor's letter at her newly launched site, Preserve.
Sorry. He really did get burned.
Lively seems aware of just how severely the whole 'I'm-a-celeb-get-me-a-lifestyle-blog' thing is critiqued, so she launched a reconnaissance mission months beforehand, sprinkling anecdotes in interviews about how she idolises Martha Stewart and loves nothing more than baking and entertaining. Then, via this month's US Vogue cover story, she went the full fedora, talking about how her mother tilled the fields down south.
And now, on every square pixel of the site, Lively seems to be yelling through a native buffalo's horn, 'THIS IS NOT GOOP.' She's even refusing to call it a site, saying it's more like … a street? Which is nonsensical but understandable - Gwyneth Paltrow is one of the more hated celebrities on the planet.
A screengrab from Gwyneth Paltrow's lifestyle site, Goop.
Gwyneth comes from established fame and money. The thing is, so does Lively. Her father and mother are actors. Lively was born in California and made her acting debut at 11. But she's going to great pains to paint herself over as a Prairie Girl – via Portlandia. Obviously so we won't scream at her that we can't afford her stupid, rich, fancy bull dust!
Lively's editor's letter is overflowing with the type of earnest humility not seen since your high school prefect accepted the award for best all-rounder, '“I’m no editor, no artisan, no expert," she writes, surprisingly without a quill. But nobody who genuinely believes that about themselves sells a bottle of BBQ sauce on their site for $25.
Then, in what looks like a slightly defensive measure against accusations of privilege, Lively has devoted one section of the site to the 'Greater Good', pledging to give back to Covenant House,her husband Ryan Reynolds' pet charity. Lively has said his fingerprints will be all over the site. Well, I might be wrong but I'd bet my white feather earring Reynolds wrote this entry, in which it's claimed that the best thing about the Jazz Age were the hats.
Lively's US Vogue cover to mark the launch of her new website, Preserve.
Ummm. Are you sure?
I digress. The point I wish to make is that Gwyneth has never squandered her elitism for the sake of spruiking her wares. Paltrow has been attacked for saying stuff like '“I am who I am. I can’t pretend to be somebody who makes $25,000 a year.” Which ok is jarring but at least it’s truthful. And us commoners can’t get enough.
For proof check out this GOOP video of Gwyneth and Stella McCartney holding a party for their joint venture while dozens of mega-famous friends flitter like moths all over Paltrow's blue lawn.
Gwyneth understands something Blake does not want to admit to: when all the noise dies down about a ‘snobby actress's taste' there remains one constant: aspiration.
People say they hate Gwyneth but secretly? They don’t.
It's just like when people claim to only care about hard news but then they keep clicking on the gossip section. It's why the clothes on Goop always sell out and Paltrow's cookbooks are best-sellers.
For an actress so proud of campaigning for Democrat Barack Obama she devoted a section to it on her Wikipedia page, Lively is acting a lot like a Republican. Remember Ronald Regan was an actor who spent most of his life in California. But that didn't stop him wandering around in cowboy hats riding horses on his ranch for the press.
All of this is not to say that people can't identify with something different to who they are. It's just that the whole point of celebrity websites is the celebrity. You live a #Blessed life Blake, why not own it? As the queen of online aspiration, Beyonce, once advised Paltrow about her Grammy debut, “The singing is great. But you’re not having any fun."
'Remember when we were at Jay’s concert … and you do your crazy Indian dance? Do that. Be you!’”
Be you, Blake Lively. Be you.