Orlando Bloom: Why is everyone laughing at his ‘brain octane oil’?

The reaction to the star’s health regime says a lot about our odd attitudes to wellness

Orlando Bloom: the actor says he takes Brain Octane Oil. Photograph: Victor Boyko/Getty for Balmain

Orlando Bloom: the actor says he takes Brain Octane Oil. Photograph: Victor Boyko/Getty for Balmain

 

“This HAS to be a parody. PLEASE let this be a parody.” When it wasn’t crowing about what “brain octane oil” meant, the internet commentariat was feverishly making memes about Orlando Bloom this weekend, as a sort of jocular takedown.

In case you missed the brouhaha, here’s a recap: asked by the Sunday Times to give an account of his typical day, the Hollywood actor (husband of the Hollywood pop star Katy Perry) yesterday mentioned Buddhist chanting (“without my practise, I could have easily come off the rails) and a prebreakfast cocktail of “green powders that I mix with brain octane oil, a collagen powder for my hair and nails”.

Bloom then admitted that he spends time dreaming about “roles for myself and others – for minorities and women”. Also featuring in Bloom’s day is mindful Lego playing, an hour of heavy weights, and plant-based lunches. (“I’m 90 per cent plant based. I sometimes look at a cow and think, that’s the most beautiful thing ever.”) “It’s all quite LA, really,” he observes, stating the very bleeding obvious.

Hollywood couple: Orlando Bloom with his wife, Katy Perry. Photograph: Amy Sussman/FilmMagic via Getty
Hollywood couple: Orlando Bloom with his wife, Katy Perry. Photograph: Amy Sussman/FilmMagic via Getty

Granted, it’s one to file under Eye-roll, but it’s certainly worth unpacking the wider reaction to a lifestyle that seems to make this one British actor healthy, balanced and happy. Accusations of “himboism” – being a male bimbo, basically – were rampant on Twitter, where the actor was trending for much of the day, as were comparisons to American Psycho’s Patrick Bateman. Others took his lead and posted their own versions of breakfast (Kinder Buenos, Barry’s tea and the like) and their own version of “brain octane oil” (cans of cider).

All of this feedback is clearly meant in the spirit of humorous banter, which God knows we need during these times. But while they may sound like the ramblings of a man irrevocably lost in the Goop quagmire, why do we care so much about the health habits of someone who is simply fastidious about self-care and self-optimisation? It is because the only “reasonable” breakfast for any British guy is a fry-up and a cup of builder’s tea? Why the strong reaction to the regime of a man whose job it is to stay in good physical shape? If it were a footballer, would our meme game be quite as strong?

Bulletproof’s Brain Octane Oil, as taken by Orlando Bloom
Bulletproof’s Brain Octane Oil, as taken by Orlando Bloom

Strangely enough, it transpires that Brain Octane Oil is just a dietary supplement made by an American company called Bulletproof. (Odd that Bloom’s interviewer seems not to have realised this.) It’s basically a fancy version of coconut oil, and is available to us mere ground-walkers, too. In the United States you can buy Bulletproof products at Walmart, Target and Whole Foods. You can buy Brain Octane Oil in Ireland, too.

Perhaps the fuss about Bloom’s health regime has to do with the fact that staying ageless and luminously youthful is the labour that we largely seem to expect from women in the public eye. Were this the daily to-do list of a Hollywood actress, I doubt there would be quite the same pile-on. Green powders and plant-based lunches appear to be part of the typical job spec for a woman in the showbiz game. Yet look at many actresses’ media profiles and they will swear blind that they can eat chicken wings all they like, not a bother on them. Often during an interview – trust me, I’ve been there when they do it – they will “tuck into” a huge burger, in a display of performative scoffing designed to telegraph “I’m just like you, really. Just a bit blessed in the metabolism department, I guess.”

The truth is that, man or woman, it takes genuine effort to keep in line with the impossibly limited version of the western bodily ideal, especially if you are 44, as Bloom is. Clearly, we don’t like it when these celebrities pull down the velvet curtain to reveal as much. We resent and rib Gwyneth Paltrow for her vagina candles and yoni eggs, even though this slavish devotion to wellness and balance seems to make her happy enough.

I do wonder what the reaction “Borelando Bland” says about our own attitudes to self-betterment and wellness. Are green powders and “brain octane oil” all well and good until you start talking publicly about them? Is an earnest hour of power-lifting fine until you remind others that you do it every day? Or does Orlando Bloom’s successfully ascetic display of self-control illuminate our own wellness attitudes, and make us wonder whether, in our perfectly normal lives, we might just be stopping a little short?

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