Netflix has inked a deal with Goop, Gwyneth Paltrow’s lifestyle and wellness brand, and in doing so, it may disperse a lot of health nonsense into the world.
While Paltrow features harmless things like yoga pants and travel ideas on the site, she has for years faced intense criticism from the medical and scientific communities for also peddling junk health products (which I’ve called “Goopshit”). From jade eggs for vaginas to “bio-frequency stickers” and dubious vitamins and supplements, Goop is a now a $250 million empire built, in part, on misleading people with false health claims.
That’s why California prosecutors fined Goop last year for “unsubstantiated” marketing claims. It’s also why Goop has attracted the attention of concerned doctors, including OB-GYN Dr. Jen Gunter, who says many of the site’s products are dangerous for women.
But none of that seemed to deter Netflix from offering Goop a global megaphone. The new series, expected to launch this fall, will include 30-minute episodes featuring the site’s editors. According to Variety, “The team will utilize experts, doctors, and researchers to examine issues relating to physical and spiritual wellness” and “address larger thematic questions the Goop audience has about leading optimal lives.”
While more details about the show are still scarce, there’s no doubt Goop’s reach and platform will be bigger than ever before: Netflix operates in more than 190 countries, and has some 130 million subscribers. Separately, exclusive Goop podcasts will be featured on Delta airplanes.
“In this era of misinformation, it is tremendously frustrating to see an entity like Goop get yet another platform to spread science-free nonsense,” Tim Caulfield, a health researcher and author of Is Gwyneth Paltrow Wrong About Everything?, told Vox. “While we should reserve judgment until we see content, Goop history tells us we can’t be optimistic.”
Paltrow has something of a track record of resisting scientific accuracy. A deal between Goop and Condé Nast reportedly fell through when the publisher insisted the proposed Goop magazine be fact-checked before going out on newsstands, according to the New York Times.
That’s why Caulfield was among a number of health professionals and researchers who reacted with dismay and consternation to the deal:
— Natalia Stasenko, RD (@NataliaStasenko) February 5, 2019
More doctors and scientists talking about what people can actually do to promote wellness.
Less dangerous vanity projects from unqualified celebrities who want you to put weird stuff up your vagina.
A concerned woman in science and Netflix customer https://t.co/cpldadNKvV
— McLNeuro (@McLNeuro) February 4, 2019
“While I’m a big believer in freedom of speech and open debate, media companies are still making choices about what kind of content to support,” Caulfield said. “I’m not naive — I know these companies are about making money. But we shouldn’t forget the misinformation can have a real impact.”
How a crackdown on celebrity woo — and its media enablers — might look isn’t clear, but as their pseudoscience continues to grow like a cancer through new media platforms, it’s something we’re going to have to think about.