Last night, Gwyneth Paltrow — she of the perfectly toned legs and "absurd" lifestyle website — performed a song from her upcoming film, Country Strong, at the Country Music Awards. Though she may seem better suited to Jane Austen adaptations than honky tonks, Paltrow upstaged more seasoned singers and earned a standing ovation. (Watch a video of the performance here.) Begrudging critics have conceded that "she wasn't bad" and was, in fact, "surprisingly good." Such a response is typical for Paltrow, who Salon's Mary Elizabeth Williams calls "the single most despised Oscar-winning, rock star-marrying, magazine cover-gracing, [standing ovation-getting] woman in the world." While "Gwyneth hate is nothing new," the recession has exacerbated the problem, writes Williams. It's easy to dump on Paltrow, but maybe she's just being real, in her own, over-accomplished way. Here, an excerpt:

[Paltrow] gets standing ovations for doing stuff that isn't even her real job while the rest of us get our cars repossessed and drip pizza grease on our four-year-old Target t-shirts. It's that appearance of endless ease, whether true or not, that riles so... Even Hollywood's other reigning ice queen, Nicole Kidman, went through a very public divorce and wound up watching her new husband bounce right into rehab. Paltrow has never been caught snorting coke off a hooker, trashing a hotel room, or doing anything more horrible than starring in "View From the Top"....

Yet Gwyneth herself remains steadfastly above it all. To her credit, unlike a myriad of politicians and movie stars who play the game of being regular folks, she embraces her privilege and doesn't apologize for it. She may be perfect, but at least she's authentic about it... As she told Elle last year, "I am who I am. I can't pretend to be somebody who makes $25,000 a year." That's a role plenty of us are playing with amazing accuracy these days... She may not be, as she sang Wednesday, "some wide eyed dreamer that just rolled in off a dusty mid west bus," but she's a true-blue Hollywood queen. And that, in its peculiar, incredibly envy-inspiring way, is just as real as it gets.

Read the entire article at Salon.