Train Wrecks for Attention

Recently I have been fascinated and repelled by on-going stories in the media revolving around two Hollywood stars – Mia Farrow and Gwyneth Paltrow. Both women really pushed my buttons, and aside from the overall general coveting of their wealth and fame, I was determined to think this reaction through.
As a former actress, I very much understand that people who need attention are drawn to this line of work. Not all performers are exhibitionists, but often they are people who need validation and adulation.

Mia Farrow is my generation – her gamine 60’s face of Rosemary’s Baby is an icon of the era. She is Hollywood royalty – the daughter of actress Maureen O’Sullivan, best known for playing Jane in the early Tarzan films, and John Farrow, a film director and professional Irishman. She grew up surrounded by famous people and their children, and entered show business, the family business, by default.

Ms. Paltrow is at least 25 years younger and the daughter of stage and film actress Blythe Danner and Producer Bruce Paltrow. Her earliest work was alongside her mother. She too
grew up knowing everyone in Hollywood and joining the family business. Blonde and fair, like Farrow, she has the distinction of having a Best Actress Oscar from nearly her first leading role in Shakespeare in Love in 1998.

Farrow has had the more flamboyant life; she’s been around longer and has had more opportunity. She famously married Frank Sinatra when he was in his 50s and she was 20. That marriage ended quickly when Farrow asserted that she intended to keep working. She then married British composer/conductor Andre Previn with whom she began her life-long acquisition of children. They had two (twins) and adopted others. She went on to her well-known, long- term semi-relationship with actor/director/writer Woody Allen. Alone and with Allen she gave birth to two more children and adopted more. The grand total of children is 15 with two already deceased. She is in the news in the last few years because of allegations of sexual abuse against Allen with one of their daughters and his famously marrying another of her adopted daughters.

Gwyneth’s life has been somewhat less scandalous. Although she had a number of high-profile suitors and fiancees such as Brad Pitt early in her career, she settled down with Cold Play frontman Chris Martin in 2002. They had two children, Apple and Moses, and recently announced their separation, nee Compassionate Un-Coupling.

Both actresses are outspoken and politically/socially involved. Mia Farrow’s adoptions have centered on children from developing countries with disabilities and she is passionate about raising awareness of neglected children throughout the world. Ms. Paltrow is more involved personally in her website Goop where she gives advice about being the perfect wife and mother.
So what is the thread that runs so through with these two women? Both are “hot messes” when it comes to seeking attention and engaging with the media to maintain high profiles – for their causes, their children, their friends and their lifestyles. I guess Paltrow is the new age version of Farrow – she attempts to white wash all her linen for the press. Farrow seems to be focused on airing all her dirty linen in public. Changing times?

VANITY FAIR magazine, that harbinger of the current pop culture zeitgeist, has profiled both women. Most recently, they attempted to write a piece that may or may not have been critical of Ms. Paltrow; she contacted all her powerful entertainment friends who lobbied the editor to cease and desist. He did.
What fascinates me and what is so polarizing about these women, I believe, is their need for more and more and more. More causes, more children, more books, more lovers, more friends, more influence and affluence, more mentions, trending, column inches, more notoriety. More awards, more advice, more money. More respect – more love.

There is a new psychological syndrome called Histrionic Personality Disorder (HPD). A newish personality disorder that is characterized by attention seeking, impulsive, unstable and manipulative behavior. Well, of course, some of us are guilty some of the time. But people whose life seems to be governed by this behavior may need to step back and learn to be more genuine and cooperative.

As you grow and learn, hopefully, you realize that you can’t ALWAYS be the star of your own or anyone else’s show. Indeed, older women are often marginalized because the bloom is off the rose. Both Mia Farrow and Gwyneth Paltrow are beautiful women at whatever age, whose life achievements and blessings are to be envied. Enough! Sit down and shut up already. You damn near have had it all. Stop rubbing it in and asking for more. Learn to listen to yourself, to love yourself and calm yourself and just Be Yourself.

Be grateful please.