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Dilbert Creator Criticizes Paltrow-Bashing

Keli Goff (click to read her columns)

One of our newest syndicated columnists, Keli Goff (check out her columns here), wrote a column last week criticizing Gwyneth Paltrow for her suggestion that “everything in my life that’s good is because I worked my ass off to get it and to maintain it.”

As Goff noted, Paltrow was born to Hollywood royalty and credits “Uncle Steven” for landing one of her first film roles (that’s Steven Spielberg, for those keeping score at home), advantages most people don’t have to help them along. She went on to write “that like a lot of privileged people, [Paltrow’s] under the delusion that she earned everything that she has, and then has the audacity to gloat about it.”

Well, this obviously upset Dilbert creator Scott Adams, who wrote on his blog that Goff is wrong to attack poor Gwyneth, claiming her column lacks the proper context.

Adams went on to write this:

“It’s worth noting, in the interest of context, that Goff was born with a few advantages herself. She’s beautiful, smart, and apparently had the resources she needed to make it through NYU and go on to get her Master’s Degree at Columbia University.  If you ask Goff what made her successful, would she credit her hard work and leave out her other obvious advantages? Or would she answer honestly and say, “I worked hard for what I’ve achieved, but it didn’t hurt that I’m a brilliant, smoking-hot African-American woman in 2011.” I’m just saying that people don’t generally talk about their advantages. To do so would be…wait for it…gloating.”

So Adams seems to be making the case that the only reason why Goff went to NYU and got her master’s degree at Columbia University is because she is a “brilliant, smoking-hot African-American woman.”

So what do you think? Should Goff has not been so quick to criticize Paltrow when Goff herself has the advantage of being a “brilliant, smoking-hot African-American woman?”

By Daryl Cagle

Daryl Cagle is the founder and owner of Cagle Cartoons, Inc. He is one of the most widely published editorial cartoonists and is also the editor of The Cagle Post.

27 replies on “Dilbert Creator Criticizes Paltrow-Bashing”

Scott Adams is correct and I used a very similar argument when I replied to Keli Goff’s article when it appeared originally a few days ago. Although the article was very clear and beautifully written, I would have to agree with Adams. We really can’t judge another’s work in life by the family they came from. We don’t know what goes on behind closed doors or what families are “really” like. Rich, successful families can have grim, even horrific, problems. A person’s “start in life” may not be anything like what it may appear to be. Again, as I said in my first reply to Goff’s article, Paltrow says she has worked damned hard to get where she has got, and I would tend to believe her. Thanks for the great conversation! Good points, all!

Have to disagree with Cagle here. Scott Adams was pointing out that just about everyone that succeeds has some kind of advantage that helped. I don’t think he was entirely reducing her success to beauty and race; however, Adam’s is mistaken in equating Goff’s advantages with Paltrow’s. Beauty and race might have helped Goff, they might have also hurt her when people dismissed her intellectual capabilities and achievements precisely because she is attractive and black. Ultimately, there is no way to tell and I strongly doubt race or attractiveness played any part in her academic credentials. It’s not like grad school and scholars double as Miss America contestants and Men’s Health models. Paltrow’s insider connections to Hollywood and privileged background on the other hand gave her enormous and direct advantages in her career path. You can guarantee that she never had to wait tables and take acting classes at night while waiting to be discovered. It would have been far more accurate and… wait for it… modest to say that her success came from hard work and the help and support of the people in her life. There’s nothing wrong with utilizing the advantages you were born with, but it’s neither modest nor honest to pretend that you achieved everything from scratch.

When you’re “born on third” you don’t have to “hit a home run”, but you still have to score. That, invariably, depends on what you do and those on your team, as well. If you don’t hustle you can very easily die on third. I suspect we all use any and all advantages we’re born with unless we are either too lazy or stupid. Gwyneth Paltro is obviously neither. Her starting position doesn’t mean she didn’t bust her azz to succeed. Goff’s eyes are a lovely shade of green. Yea Dilbert!

So Kelly Goff is attractive and African-American.

Gwyneth Paltrow is a super attractive Hollywood blonde with a wealthy, connected family.

How are these comparisons at all equal?

Ms. Goff had to start in the batter’s box, if not the warm-up circle, while the actress got her start at third base with a daddy who was the umpire. So who had to work harder?

If Ms. Goff was earning millions by being on camera because she is attractive I’d say there was some equality in this comparison. But Ms. Goff earns her living as a writer. She is required to be articulate with at least some intelligence for her employment. whether she is photogenic or not.

Gwyneth only has to look good and memorize a few lines of dialogue each day, which does not require a great intellectual capacity. We don’t know if she can write an intelligent paragraph, let along a coherent commentary.

I feel sorry for Gwyneth because she mistakenly thinks she’s had to work hard to get where she is in her life, when it’s a lot more likely she’s never truly had to work at all.

My husband came from a middle class divorced family with an alcoholic father. He IS a success that is much more impressive. He has a masters degree and his name is on a bunch of patents. He works hard for everything he has but he also has ‘something’ that attracts people to him. He’s not drop dead gorgeous or anything like that but his life spark attracts people all the time.
Some people have it and some don’t. It’s difficult not to be jealous of that but you play the hand you’re dealt and hope you can at least keep a roof over your head.

Like Janet 712, I agree there are points to both sides, especially that one cannot “help” being born into the family that child opens his/her eyes to see. It is important that both of these talented people are hardworking, community oriented and just good people. Just because a family is rich does not make that family a good one. I don’t know about Ms. Goff’s family, but Ms. Paltrow’s seemed to be a close one and one that she cherishes. I would be disappointed to think that this would end up a racial issue. A reporter with a history of good stories that are published, has as much credit as someone who wins an Oscar.

Adams is spot-on. No matter what advantages Miss Paltrow was born with, she would not be where she is with lots of hard work on her part.

OK Glen See you on the set at 4.00am.
By the way please read the whole script and be ready to present an interpretation of your character that will please the director. You might also need to change that interpretation several times during the day.
Ms Paltrow obviously works hard and effectively as her list of credits is impressively long. She may have got her start through family connections but she would not have been able to continue her career at such a high level without talent and hard work.
W.Shakespeare

I agree with you except one comment in regards to Miss America and Men’s Health model comment. I would be careful to lump people into that category. We have a very successful partner in our law firm that competed well in a Miss USA contest and is a brilliant lawyer. There are actually many beautiful and intelligent woman and men who model as well as have brains. It is not fair to lump them into categories any more than it is to lump Ms. Goff into such categories.

That being said, I think you made an excellent point in your last statement. We all have advantages and disadvantages, but there is nothing wrong with acknowledging those and using them along with hard work to get where you are going.

The only problem I see here is that we’ve all been suckered in to paying attention to a movie star’s comments about herself. Is this really worth a column, or two?!! I’m embarrased I even bothered to post this.

Adams and Goff both need to find other, more noteworthy, and newsworthy, things upon which to opine. Granted, Paltrow’s hystrionics about her success being all ‘self-produced’ were not only disingenuous (at best), if not downright dishonest, but they also failed to provide any credit to those people who were active in providing her with opportunities and advantages which the overwhelming majority of Americans do not have access to. But an actor carrying-on in an “over-the-top” manner should not surprise anyone. Those actors who do NOT conduct themselves in a “larger-than-life” manner are often regarded as being almost freakish in their temerity and “down-to-earth”-ness. The question that I would like to have answered is what it was about Paltrow’s comments that so incensed Goff to prompt her go off on her own bit of hyperbolic ranting? And after she wrote her “rant,” did she bother to take the time to read what she had composed? I’m guessing not. Because if she had, she would have realized that her tirade about Paltrow’s comments were going to come across as meanspirited and a bit caddy (and catty). And while some might get away with “letting off some steam” via their personal blog or “wall” post (on any one of the multitude of social network sites), someone of greater notariety (and supposed professionalism) should conduct themselves with a bit more grace and aplomb.

And Adams should have just stuck with “Dilbert,” and not entered into (and thus lowering himself) the Goff-Paltrow cat-fight.

I think the issue is the privileged class of celebrity “gloating”. I recall with equal annoyance Mel Gibson a long time ago saying angrily in an interview, when asked something about a 10 million fee for a film : “I worked my ass off for 10 years to get here”.

Ms. Paltrow is suffering the same hubris. I am not for a minute suggesting that messrs. Paltrow and Gibson have not worked “hard”. I am yet to find a comparative between 14 hours on a Set and 14 hours down a mine in China chipping out shale.

The fact that one person gets a few million dollars and the other $5 a day seems unfortunate.

I think the point is that Celebrities do not necessarily “earn” the 15 million for a film – that is just what they are paid.

And they should just shut up about it and leave us and the miners to be envious of their talent, their luck and their bank accounts.

I didn’t mean that models can’t be intelligent people. I’ve seen Playboy playmates that were competent Jeopardy contestants. Looks have no significant correlation on intelligence one way or another. My point was that if you look at grad students you see a wide range of looks (including some which can and have gone on to be models) which indicates that beauty is not a selective factor. I guess I didn’t do a good job in communicating that post, but I’m glad we largely agree.

We are not paying these people for thier work we are paying them for their talent. What bothers people in this country is that they see entertainers make huge amounts of money for doing something that doesn’t really help society. Well if you have a problem with Mel Gibson Gwyneth Paltrow or Tiger Woods you are free not to watch them perform.

Good looking people have a lot of advantages. Because people are attracted to them they tend to develop better social skills and make better contacts. If you are a woman your chances of landing a “good catch” for a mate is all the better. The real question is just how much do the successfull people owe the unsuccessfull if anything at all. Life isn’t fair get over it.

Some folks think that anyone who is successful had a lot of help, and a lot of good luck. Some folks think that there is no such thing as help or good luck. Some folks think that anyone who is successful worked hard for it and luck and/or helpful connections have nothing to do with it. Some folks think that anyone who is successful is hiding some major crimes.

And some folks were born on second base and find it amazing that not everyone can hit a double. And some folks were born behind the dumpster outside the park and don’t even know that there is a game going on.

Like the thoughts of Miss Goff, Mr. Adams, and Miss Paltrow, all of these other thoughts are just that – thoughts. Most thoughts ABOUT anything have little to do with anything. That would include these very thoughts, and everyone else’s, too.

That said, we all have our thoughts, and we are all fond of them, and we all think we are right, and everyone else is more than likely wrong.

Example; anything you say about this posting will fit into that category, or not.

It doesn’t even matter who is right and who is wrong, because these thoughts have nothing to do with anything, anyway.

Just a thought.

Goff was spot on – and we were not discussing her! If we were perhaps the sexist remarks would be best left out – good looks do not get you thru university -hello – and I get what he means – it is true we do not discuss advantages unless we do not have them!
But – they definitely make a huge difference at where you are in line – gwyneth is fab and talented and the connections gave her immediate lift off…

What an insult. Adams suggests Goff’s race and beauty got her in and through great academic institutions! This more than suggests that Keli used sex and race as opposed to her keen intellect and commitment to learning. Stick to what you do best, Scott.

Hmmm Now if only Keli had an uncle who was a professor just imagine what she could have accomplished . Nope I dont see a correlation .

Sheeeeeeeesh! Won’t anyone on either side concede that both Ms. Paltrow and Ms. Goff were also blessed with more than an average amount of talent?

Success is when preparedness meets opportunity. I doubt eilther of these women have been successes in their fields despite being prepared by education, position, and abilities. I contend they are more alike than they are different. Kudos to both of them.

No one begrudges Mel, Gwyneth, Donald or anyone making huge amounts of money – it is, after all, the American Dream – and that really has nothing to do with helping society (however that got into the discussion). However, the point was that to suggest that they work harder than millions of others who get a more regular wage is more a function of their own egos and publicity machines than fact.

So, what? Attractive, intelligent woman complains that attractive, talented woman had it easier because of additional family ties?

Why is this news? Family connections have ALWAYS been some peoples first leg up in the business world, no matter the business. If Mz Paltrow is particularly arrogant (A big assertion in an industry that contains the egos of Crowe, Gibson et al) then I haven’t heard it.

Actually, he suggested that she used her Beauty, Brains and Race in about that order, if I remember. I think he used Intelligence as the first thing he referenced.

Of course, predictably, people like to rage about his mentioning the fact that she’s a smoking hot African-American woman and conveniently ignore the fact that he also said she was very intelligent.

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