A jury sided with the actress Thursday, finding that she was not at fault for a 2016 collision at a Utah ski resort, where Terry Sanderson, the original plaintiff in the case, said he sustained broken ribs and a concussion. Terry was seeking $300,000 in damages. Paltrow countersued Sanderson seeking payment of $1.
While her legal ordeal has ended, the spectacle of the trial continues to reverberate across social media.
In one clip that has gone viral, Sanderson’s lawyer asked Paltrow about how the ski accident “deterred” the star from enjoying the rest of her vacation.
Paltrow testified, “Well, I lost half a day of skiing.”
Some social media users took her dry reply as inspiration.
“texting all my friends ‘well … i lost half a day of skiing’ next time any minor inconvenience befalls me,” one person tweeted.
Sanderson’s lawyer Kristin Vanorman created a few meme-able moments herself.
Vanorman asked, “You’re not good friends with Taylor Swift?” referencing a past case in which Swift also sued for $1 in damages.
Paltrow replied, “I would not say we’re good friends. We’re friendly. I’ve taken my kids to one of her concerts before, but we don’t talk very often.”
A Twitter user commented on the interaction, “GWYNETH PALTROW AND TAYLOR SWIFT THIS IS CINEMA.”
New York University media historian Moya Luckett compared Paltrow’s trial to the appeal of popular television shows “White Lotus” and “Succession.” The entertainment centers “rich people who you want to hate,” but who ultimately viewers enjoy watching.
“In a very socially polarized climate, I think a lot of us like to see celebrities fail. And we’re most fascinated with celebrities in the points of collapse,” Luckett added.
Memes and sound bites from the televisedcase have allowed those who were not familiar with the trial to consume it for entertainment purposes and opine about the merits of the case, even if the actual details from the trial remained largely unknown.
“btw i still have no idea who collided into who,” popular meme account @sainthoax captioned a Wednesday post, about “skigate.”
“I’m a little confused about the Gwyneth Paltrow case bec all the memes imply that she crashed into the dude, but I watched half the video of her testifying and she kept saying that that guy crashed into her???” another person tweeted.
Viewers’ initial reactions to the trial appeared to skew negative, with some seeing Paltrow as the latest example of a celebrity who is trying to avoid accountability.
However, the online court of public opinion appeared to swiftly switch in Paltrow’s favor.
“Honestly…iconic,” one commenter tweeted of Paltrow’s victory.
“It’s funny everyone was saying she was a liar 8 days ago,” another tweeted acknowledging the shift.
Josh Gamson, professor of sociology at the University of San Francisco, said rapid changes in public opinion during celebrity trials reflect the public’s pre-exisiting ambivalent attitude toward stars.
People may think on one hand, stars “‘are above us'” and on the other hand, “‘Who do they think they are?'” according to Gamson.
Public opinion may also be influenced by online meme culture.
Paltrow’s trial was easily meme-ified and repackaged in ways that may not have accurately depicted the legal proceedings leading to misinformed opinions, Luckett said.
At the conclusion of the trial Thursday, the star exited the courtroom, passed a seated Sanderson and whispered, “I wish you well,” Sanderson told reporters after the verdict, according to the Associated Press.
The moment quickly became a meme on Twitter with users sharing their reactions to her departing remarks.