more like beyonce, less like gwyneth

I don’t really understand the point of accruing enormous wealth unless you use it to make the world better. (My personal mantra: Make the world a little less sh*tty! This motto reflects my heritage of Korean pessimism, sets the goal low, and is easy to remember!) Like how much money does one need? Stephen King in his book On Writing says that all you really need is enough money to take your family to the movies, and that makes sense to me (though publishing friends have pointed out, he is an extremely costly author to keep happy.) Sometimes, “more money, more problems.” (I learned this from Tim Gunn’s book where he complained people are always hitting him up now that he’s well known for “making it work” on “America’s Top Model”…I know that’s not his show title but “runway” was in it….”top runway,” “runaway fashion,” “runaway cakes,” I cannot remember for the life of me.)

Regarding Gwyneth Paltrow and Beyonce, here’s a case study of two enormously successful, young/approaching middle-aged entertainers who are exiting the life stage of focusing on individual achievement, entering the seventh stage of human development. This is the stage where you begin to focus outwardly onto your community. (The psychologist Erik Erikcson developed a theory that we all have eight life stages, and community is number 7. Does that make number 8 death? Just curious. Also, if you look it up, I have the life stages all wrong, but go with it for now. Maybe we can form a study group to assimilate this information on this guy’s approach and we can quote from it together.)

To that end, Beyonce has invested heavily in college education – she has a bunch of scholarships available for ladies at Historically Black Colleges, she has given a lot of cash to rescue efforts in her hometown of Houston. Her art reflects her newfound politics, or rather, she has taken her political point of view public and integrated it into her art. She really thinks about using her platform to elevate others who may not have her opportunities, and on top of all that, she and her husband are supposed to be huge funders of the Black Lives Matter movement. She is an icon of African American excellence. And even if she didn’t any of that, she just, on a basic level, just gives people so much joy from her ability to perform, dance, sing, and write (she is supposedly a musical genius, which I love. Her only flaw, in my opinion, is she has terrible taste in clothes, ha ha ha ha)

Gwyneth Paltrow has also stopped focusing on her personal achievement and turned her gaze on her community. She launched a lifestyle company that has come under fire from the medical community for selling over-priced goods that are, at best harmless and expensive tchotchkes, but other times, actually harmful to her customers. So, she has turned to her community, but she is making money off them and their envy and insecurity. (She doesn’t actually seem to me like an evil person, but someone who is misguided and does not understand how she is pursuing a highly immoral path.).

Anyway, you can read these recent pieces yourself on B and on G and make up your own mind. In the end, I don’t think profit or money is a value that can serve as a trustworthy north star. It’s totally okay to make money. It’s not okay to profit off of the suffering of others or to sell goods and services on false pretenses.

In short, be more like Beyonce, less like Gwyneth.

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