Calling Gwyneth Paltrow a Sept. 11 Hero Is Offensive

I'm guessing that anyone who covers entertainment news has some personal boundaries for what topics they won't touch, and I recently decided I was done writing about Gwyneth Paltrow. I figured I'd done plenty of snarking on the subject of Gwynnie, and it was time to leave her and her otherworldly GOOPy lifestyle tips alone.

However, I cannot let today's bizarre Gwyneth-related news go by without comment. According to People, "Gwyneth Paltrow Saved a Life on Sept. 11." Holy shit, I thought, did she actually rescue someone from one of the Towers? Because if so I have some SERIOUS mental readjustments to do with regards to the value she brings to the world.

As it turns out, that's not quite what happened.


Apparently a woman named Lara Lundstrom Clarke was hurrying to get to her job at the World Trade Center on September 11, 2001, when she cut across 7th Avenue to get to the subway station. A silver Mercedes SUV came screeching to a stop in front of her, and Clarke realized she was making eye contact with none other than the famous Gwyneth Paltrow. Paltrow waved her on, but the near-collision had caused Clarke to miss her train. When she finally arrived at work and started to head up from the subway to the concourse in the Twin Towers, it was 8:47 a.m. and the first plane had hit. While Clarke made her escape, four of her coworkers tragically died that day.

Clarke fully credits Paltrow with saving her life, and her brief interaction with Paltrow is being described as a sort of real-life version of Sliding Doors, the movie starring Paltrow about a chance romantic encounter that depended on catching a train.

Okay. Oooooookay. Can we just ... can we just talk about how INSANE this is? I mean, look, I can understand how Lara Clarke is convinced that she sidestepped death, and that if she hadn't been nearly run over by Paltrow's SUV, she would have gotten to her office on time and all that. But to trumpet a headline that claims Paltrow saved a life on 9/11—it's not just hyperbole, it veers more than a little into the territory of completely goddamned offensive.

When you consider all the brave men and women who really DID save lives on that day, it's beyond ridiculous to give Paltrow public credit for—well, what, exactly? Being at the right place at the right time? Unless of course it had been one split second earlier, in which case Clarke would have possibly been ground into human burger under Paltrow's $5,000 custom rims.

It should be noted that Gwyneth herself—via her publicist, anyway—has confirmed the accuracy of Clarke's story, and has added that she's "deeply moved." I'll tell you what, I'd have been deeply moved if Paltrow had said something like gosh thanks that's sweet, but let's focus on the firefighters, police, soldiers, and everyday people who actually DID perform acts of courage on September 11, because all I was doing was driving my Mercedes. PROBABLY WHILE CALLING MY FISHMONGER.

Do you think Gwyneth should be credited with saving a life on 9/11?

Image via Flickr/WEBN-TV

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