By Christopher J Peer
Have you ever wanted to be a fourtiesish female celebrity obsessed with yourself? Have you ever wanted to try alternative diets, justify your anorexic, work-driven life of excess and articiallity with holistic approaches to health? Have you ever wanted to be Gwyneth Paltrow in all her waspy elegance and grace? Have you ever wanted to learn how to have your first successful orgasm with a 90-year-old female feminist and sex therapist in mutual masturbation sessions? “Austin is weird” is the slogan of the headquarters for the Goop Lab- it is a concept show based on the eccentric taste of Hollywood’s elite where health insurance is taken for granted and psychics, reiki workers, shamanic healers, and plasma getting reinjected into your face is the norm. Welcome to The Goop Lab.
As we begin, the Goop Lab is an absurd adventure in hedonism. Novice office yuppie/hipster wellness seekers in the excesses of Southern California snobbery discover the “occult”, psychedelics, energy healers, ice yoga, mutual female masturbation, chiropractic and reiki, psychics exoticly bland food all in the name of selfish vanity and self gratification, and in a safe world of Yes men. They cater to the needs of the Hollywood elite and their personal assistants. I was disappointed by some of the show but other parts were entertaining at best. It all starts in the first episode, which is about young upward mobile to mid life crisis women varying in age from where they plan an escape to Jamaica. Once there, they enter a psychedelic therapy session with an older white American hippie couple who obviously are not from the island. They are guided by these new age gurus to take, for many present, their first hallucinogenic experience.I wasn’t expecting them to dive deeper than they did. It's hard to give her the benefit of the doubt after her romantic comedy career. When I think of psychedelics, maybe Timothy Leary, the famous UC Berkeley professor. Instead of really confronting their traumas they just giggle childishly while they trip balls.
They all took 3.5 grams of dried cubensis psilocybin mushrooms (1) in a tea mug and talked about childhood traumas with their new age shamans comforting them during their panic attacks and controlled psychosis. This is supposedly in the name of self discovery but it comes off as forced Reality TV and reeks of Hollywood elite entitlement. I thought they would actually meet up with real spiritual guides but instead it is all a scam to get money out of these naive victims. Maybe I’m being harsh, but after a real psychedelic experience people are never the same again.This seemed more like a college party than a legitimate session.
In the following episode they discover Ice Yoga and what is known as the Wim Hoff method. Now this strangely enough seemed harder to believe at first untilI I saw that it was scientifically tested. Wim Hoff is Dutch immigrant turned faith healer, who introduces the office staff of Goop Lab to Ice Yoga or Snowga. When he was young he lost his wife and was a widower with 4 children to raise by himself. He mastered the art of breathing in cold water to calm the mind which creates a reaction in the pain receptors of the body. When Wim was only 17 years old, he jumped into any icy pond where he states the following occurred: “I had a stroll like this in the park with somebody and I saw the ice and I thought, what would happen if I went in there. I was really attracted to it. I went in, got rid of my clothes. Thirty seconds I was in,” Hof said. “Tremendous good feeling when I came out and since then, I repeated it every day.”
Mind over matter creates an alkaline environment which is healing in itself. He is amazingly charismatic and passionate about his healing method. By using 3000 years of breathing techniques form India, China, and Japan he has mastered changing the pH of the body and curing the illnesses caused by excess acidity. His alkaline breathing technique is then tested on a snowy retreat to Lake Tahoe. There in a warm cabin, the staff of Goop Lab are guided through a breathing mediation in a circular formation of the ground, forming a 6 pointed snowflake. As these initiates snuggle in their warm blankets, he guides them in breathing exercises reminiscent to women in labor. As they begin to cry their panic attacks are incited by Hof's intimidating voice. They are now led to a snow covered dock to do SnowGa. Yes Snowga! Yoga in the snow. Wait there’s more! They are all in bikinis and their anorexic bodies convey the unhealthy Hollywood celebrity undernourished diets.They are then led to a dock in freezing cold water at approximately 30* F. They use their new found breathing technique. I didn’t think they would survive but miraculously the Wim Hof Method of heavy breathing huff and puff and blew the house down. I just think this guy was like the ultimate con man that actually has proven his miraculous healing powers. I was a little bit impressed. It's like a new age Faith healer. After this, we come to our most controversial and embarrassing episode.
The pleasure is mine. Now we embark on another episode of Goop Lab, where the Goop Squad discover their vaginas are actually their vulvas. This eclectic group of young upper class hipster personal assistants office workers and the associate producers come together with a 90-year-old sex therapist. She rudely tells Gwyneth it's not a vagina it's a vulva. The vulva consists of the lips, the clitoris, and the labia. She is the quintesential old school feminist teaching women to own their sexuality and liberate their private parts. But she takes it further: her sessions include mutual masturbation coupled with positive affirmations as they look at their vulvas in their vanity mirrors. It was vaguely reminiscent of pregnant women in labor. It was not sexy, just seemed as a total attack on men and their assumed impotence in being able to make women orgasm. As they explore different sex toys these women climax making for an uncomfortable moment when watching this with your partner and family next to you hearing the savage cries of sexually deprived middle age women. I started wondering if Goop was some kind of sexual slang among this demographic. Maybe Goop is an excretion produced by the vagina when an upward mobile woman has a successfully explosive orgasm. I would have never guessed how many years of sexual frustration would be released. Naivelly believing these Hollywood types would be sex maniacs.
After this point the next episode is really disappointing for me. It’s all about alternative diets, but not in a naturalistic way, but in a Herbalife-esque, prepackaged way. In fact, I was tempted to just stop watching the series altogether. I almost fell asleep as the bland diets and anorexic bodies drained any strength in my bones left after enduring the mutual masturbation affair from the previous episode. At this point all the infomercial-esque testimonials that at this point had somewhat legitimized the previous episodes ridiculous claims, were now much less credible. This episode was more about these fourtish yuppie women flexing their subtlety decadent taste in alternative treatments. I almost started to feel compassion and empathy for their gullible nature in accepting every treatment as if it was their saviour. I grew up in Los Angeles and saw it transform into a snobby environment where these types of alternative therapies translate to young upper class entitlement and are classist and shallow. It started exciting taking shrooms in Jamaica then to Snow yoga, and female mutual masturbation sessions hosted by a 90 year old feminist. Where did it all go wrong?
According to several doctors who wrote an article in the US National Library of Medicine, studies which states “The growing use of unsubstantiated complementary and alternative medicine therapies by people in the United States along with its increasing coverage by third party payers (2) encouraged Congress to create the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine (NCCAM) at the National Institutes of Health. The centre's mission is “to explore complementary and alternative healing practices in the context of rigorous science; to educate and training CAN researchers; and to disseminate authoritative information to the public and professionals.” To complete this mission, NCCAM supports publicly relevant and scientifically rigorous research to identify those complementary and alternative medicine practices that are safe and effective.”. (3)
Apparently, the widespread quackery practiced by New age snake oil salesmen in LA and other yuppie enclaves is so rampant that the US Congress created this Library to keep these scam artists in check. It also gives the legitimate therapies the opportunity to be respected within the scientific communities general consensus. This is all stated because this series goes off the deep end into psychics, reiki workers, acupuncturists, and chiropractors. They are energy workers who don't work on your physical body, but on the ethereal body, or spiritual body surrounding the body. So it is virtually impossible to substantiate their claims as healers. Would you take somebody seriously who tried to sell you an exclusive Goop Lab candle that smells like their vagina? Before you answer, that is Gwyneth vagina smell, exclusively offered by Goop.
In the following episodes we are introduced into a master puppeteer of chi or life force energy. These energetic workers are using their hands and knowledge of the sympathetic nervous system, meridians from Chinese Traditional Medicine , and their sheer will power which is faith healing. They use herbal medicines coming from the Yellow emperor's omnibus on Chinese Medicine. This is preventative medicine and in certain situations can be very helpful to some, but not all. It is also contingent on the full cooperation of the patient as individual diet, exercise, rest ,and sessions all integratively improve their health. However this can be quite hard to prove in clinical studies. So the doctor doing reiki work over the highly suggestible Goop Lab staff comes off more like a fake charismatic alter call where the priest or preacher holds your head and pretends to knock you unconscious with the Holy Spirit.(4) Also I could relate it to WWE Wrestling where two grown men skillfully dance in an attempt to pretend to beat each other up. How truly effective is this work? If we are to believe that such healing is possible, then it must come from the power of the mind.
In the Final episode, We encounter the most far fetched psychics and go off the deep end into Lake Goop. Now we must suspend our disbelief as bold face liars are taken seriously by ridiculously weak minded women. Only one member of the Goop Lab is skeptical. This is a really deep level of naivete. How gullible can anyone be. Any psychic manipulates the mind of their weakest victims. They claim that their intuition is giving them the clues, but what is really happening. People can be highly suggestable, especially from that demographic. Rich folk are prey for Psychic scammers because they are so insecure of losing their riches, their trophy wives, etc. So Celebrities are the fairest prey for them. At this point I just envision them all walking straight into Hell blindfolded and rejoicing in my decision to have left Los Angeles over 13 years ago.
I realized how shallow life was in So Cal, especially among my wealthy friends. Wealthy people always want to experience what life is like for poor people. It’s like the old story of Siddhartha Gautama, commonly known as the Buddah. He was curious to know what life was about through hardship, not hedonism. I feel strongly that shows like this leave me with an empty shallow discontentment. There were no real advances with all this money spent. I feel like we are taking a glimpse at the pure selfishness and egotism of the upper class. Instead of helping their community they waste all this money on useless ego inflation. They feel empty because their lives are meaningless. Why are they feeling like this? Could avoiding all manner of struggles or problem solving result in such purposelessness? They feel this way because they lack a true spiritual experience. What is their misconception?
Their misconception is that spirituality can be bought by paying yes men who will supposedly advance you to a more enlightened state. Perhaps by being charitable and kind to others we can become greater human beings and truly transcend this world of suffering. I know that the real cure for unhappiness is to share and be a light in the world every day is another opportunity to be happy, and make others happy and it doesn’t cost a thing. Help someone in your community who is in need. This is worth so much more for your soul than the newest oldest lie in the book. Nothing good in life comes easily.