People online presents the strangest celebrity story we’ve read in quite some time, headlined “Gwyneth Paltrow Saved a Life on 9/11”: Its thrust is that Ms. Paltrow, in flustering a New Yorker by almost running her over with an SUV, caused her to miss her train. By the time she arrived to the office, the day’s terror had begun. The actress’s publicist announced that Ms. Paltrow was “deeply moved” by the story,
While we understand the desire to create a narrative that makes the day’s events make sense, imputing this much significance to a chance encounter–one of the millions that delay or expedite one’s progress each morning–seems a strange, ugly consequence of celebrity culture. In the wake of Sept. 11, a number of celebrity-centric missed encounters flooded out as Americans tried to make sense of it all: Family Guy creator Seth MacFarlane and a Real World cast member were among those who decided not to fly that day, at the last minute. The impulse to put a (familiar) face on tragedy is easy, but it’s also rather missing the point–and to compare a life-saving encounter with one of Ms. Paltrow’s movies (the missed-train reverie Sliding Doors, naturally) is a fairly tasteless way to commemorate 9/11.
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