Blake Lively's Preserve lifestyle site: another pandering mess of e-commerce
Lively follows in Gwyneth Paltrow's footsteps, sprinkling regular goods with some fairy dust and selling it to the common people
Celebrities, they’re just like us! That’s what the tabloids are always trying to tell us. Yes, they are just like us, except for the fame and money and stylists borrowing clothes that cost at least a few month’s rent and the access and the perks and, let us not forget, the lifestyle website.
On Monday Blake Lively, an actor best known for mumbling through several seasons of Gossip Girl and subsequently marrying Ryan Reynolds, launched Preserve, a site that is like a mirror of her soul, if her soul is the Instagram account of a young woman in Austin who goes to farmers’ markets and likes a Navajo print. Vogue describes the site as “Part digital monthly magazine, part e-commerce venture, part video blog, the site will seek out and celebrate people all over America who are making things – food, clothes, pillows, dishes, dining-room tables – with their hands.” Preserve as a name hints at this, echoing back to the fruit jam made in so many country kitchens (however when you look at the site’s URL, Preserve.us, it sounds more like a prayer or an unanswered plea).
Preserve is a combination of the last year’s two most annoying buzzwords: “artisanal” and “curation”. Yes, there is $40 salt and $25 barbecue sauce. There’s a $400 wooden heart with Christmas lights in it and $164 skirt that only comes in extra-small (which will look great with this $95 floral bike basket made out of a crate). Blake herself has hand-crafted, I’m sorry, hand-selected all of this wonderful stuff just for us. She writes in her editor’s letter: “I’m no editor, no artisan, no expert. And certainly no arbiter of what you should buy, wear, or eat.” Um, then why create a site where you tell people what they should buy, wear, and eat? And would you really trust a site made by a person who just admitted to you that she is really bad at her job?
The tone-deafness of Lively’s letter is usually only equaled by Goop, the infamous lifestyle site created by Gwyneth Paltrow. Like Preserve, it offers stories, videos, tips, and other editorial elements, but it really exists so that you’ll buy all the overpriced wares that go along with that lifestyle, as if we all have summer homes in need of ludicrously expensive towels. In the past, Paltrow has been made the butt of jokes by telling the busy moms to have their personal trainers make house calls so they can save time and other awful advice. She often recommends grossly expensive items to her middle-class audience with a blitheness many find either insulting or comical.
Paltrow is of course selling some sort of aspirational Hamptons perfection full of organic cuisine no one can cook (or afford) where as Lively seems to be digging through the Brooklyn Flea to reach some sort of authentic American experience that would certainly be soundtracked by Mumford & Sons. And they’re not the only ones. Reese Witherspoon filed papers for her own lifestyle brand, Draper James, in April and will open her first retail store later this year. Former The Hills star Lauren Conrad has developed a massive editorial operation with her lifestyle recommendations at LaurenConrad.com, but all she’s really hawking is her line of clothing at Kohl’s. Somehow this former reality star has escaped the smarm of the movie stars. Zooey Deschanel, who beat Lively to the boho-chic trend by about five years, has been espousing her own brand of twee at HelloGiggles for quite some time, though the shopping aspect seems less of the main attraction than Lively or Paltrow’s sites.
What we really need is for celebrities to stop selling us things altogether. Well, Jennifer Aniston can still be in commercials for Aveeno teaching us how to keep our skin from getting brown spots. That is a bald-faced transaction that we can either ignore or not. What we need are people like Lively and Paltrow to stop trying to sell us their lives, as if there is something inherently better about their lives because they are gorgeous and get to go to the Oscars. (Alright, those both sound like fun things, but still.)
The thing about being a “curator” is that it takes no skill whatsoever. All it takes is access to a lot of goods and the money to buy them all or the clout to get them for free. In the world of the internet, we all have the access, it’s just the stars that have the platform.
In Lively’s awful letter she says of the things on the site: “But their value is up to you. We may romanticize it, calling it treasure.” That’s all this is, sprinkling regular goods with some fairy dust and selling the world a lifestyle that is unachievable and scarcely based on merit. We don’t need to be like stars. We don’t need our ketchup to have a “backstory” or to know what kind of quinoa is best for a summer salad. If we do need some expert opinion, maybe we should avail ourselves of an expert. Martha Stewart earned her lifestyle empire by being such an expert. Blake Lively earned hers by, what, having great hair and playing the romantic interest in a second-tier superhero movie?
Yes, it doesn’t take any skill or talent to curate, which means we don’t need celebrities to do it, we can do it ourselves. We can build our own lives rather than buying the bland catalog photo shoot version of someone else’s. After all, as Americans, isn’t one of our greatest skills finding ridiculous ways to spend money all on our own?
Sourced Via theguardian