On Thursday, Quartz posted an article revealing how the luxury lifestyle website Goop and the right-wing conspiracy hub Infowars essentially sell the same wellness products. This is remarkable — and hilarious — given that the two media platforms could not be targeting a more disparate audience: The former is essentially a sentient Instagram feed run by Gwyneth Paltrow that tells mostly affluent, mostly liberal readers how to live and what to buy. The latter is headed by always-shirtless conspiracy theorist Alex Jones, whose far-right fans believe Sandy Hook was a hoax and that Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama are literal demons. Nevertheless, Goop’s spiritual wellness products and Infowars’ virile supplements are just about the same thing. But dig a little deeper, and beneath the SoCal beauty of Goop and the underground paranoia of Infowars you may find that the two share more in common than just the “alternative” medicine they sell.
Both rely on a cult of personality. The linchpin of both operations is the cult of personality surrounding their respective leaders. Alex Jones has been an underground icon for more than a decade, equally lauded and parodied for the grandiosity — and offensiveness — of his conspiracies, which are matched only by the intensity with which he screams them. The rise of the alt-right and other nefarious political groups has given him a larger platform, ensuring that his devout fan base grows. Gwyneth Paltrow doesn’t shout her suppositions quite like Jones — no one really could — but her continuous self-branding and confidence make for a similar kind of assured fan devotion. She recommends creams conditioned by music worth over $100 and rarely bats an eyelash over it, driving followers and detractors into similar states of obsession, much like Jones’s brazen self-commitment.
Both are certain everything is killing you. Both Goop and Infowars often assure you that the world is dangerous and you’re probably going to die soon, unless you buy into their products and ideology. Jones rarely hides this, as he pleads with follows to wake up and taste the water that’s making frogs gay. Paltrow’s doomsday propaganda is far more implicit, yet in order to sell its products and methods well Goop must strike fear into the hearts of its devotees. Its entire wellness page is devoted to vitamins that are all meant to fight against your body breaking down, which fits nicely into the ongoing hyper-health-conscious phenomenon, in which every cure imaginable is out there for all the ways you are decaying.
Paltrow and Jones emphatically use their own products. If you ever fear that the lifesaving (or death-delaying) products on Goop and Infowars may not work, fear not, as Paltrow and Jones often look to ensure followers that they themselves use their products and find their effects to be wondrous. Jones’s masculinity is still intact thanks to the supplements and compounds sold on Infowars’ site, meaning you too can be vital and virile. Worried about your skin crumbling from dryness? Paltrow has got you covered with Goop products she never travels without.
Both reinforce their audiences’ already-existing biases. Political extremists and lifestyle-blog devotees are both strictly committed to a singular, nonnegotiable way of thinking. Paltrow’s brand recently held a health summit — where tickets ranged from $500 to $1500 — and featured scheduled activities, like indulging in Crystal Therapy, that just continue to affirm the rich and health-obsessed biases of its readership. And it only takes one quick visit to infowars.com to see how every story is centered around how liberalism is always wrong and idiotic, like the simple and poetic subhead from a story today on the New York Times that just read “FAKE NEWS.”
Both deftly deflect criticism. Jones recently went to court to battle for the custody of his kids, and, boy, was it a doozy. One of the highlights was when he forgot details about his children, explaining that the chili he ate for lunch was the cause. The real takeaway was the main argument Jones posed to keep his kids: his on-air persona was just that, a character. Paltrow and Goop also recently faced public criticism, this time for their promotion of Body Vibe stickers, which are — you guessed it! — stickers that improve your body vibe. NASA firmly shut down the obvious lunacy of such a product, prompting a statement from Goop not all that different from Jones, in which Goop argued that it merely recommends such products, but does not endorse them.
While Paltrow and Jones may think of themselves as occupying completely opposite ends of the spectrum, maybe it’s time for them to face their similarities and just begin collaborating. Perhaps they could go in together on a face mask infused with crystals that both rejuvenates your skin and prevents the government from brainwashing you with chemtrails? Or alkaline water that not only helps your absorption, but also fights the chemicals you’ve ingested from tap water that’s trying to turn you gay? The possibilities are limitless.