There is a difference between providing much-needed entertainment and being a tone-deaf distraction.
Growing up, I eagerly awaited our family’s weekly People magazine delivery every Friday without fail — I knew I had at least one uninterrupted hour of immersing myself in the glamorous, glossy lives of the rich and famous. The PR-fluffed stories and ultra-posed “lifestyle” photo spreads provided me with a sense of entertainment and escapism that would follow me throughout most of my life.
So many carefully-crafted facades are crumbling via Instagram posts, live videos, tweets, and Tik-Toks where celebrities without jam-packed schedules unleash, well, whatever it is they’re unleashing.
There are no movie premieres, talk shows, press junkets, in-depth interviews, or live performances right now. Nope, we’re all sitting at home, trying to stay safe and healthy and trying to avoid losing our minds as we desperately attempt to adapt to this “new normal.”
The people who don’t seem to be adapting well are the incredibly rich, extraordinarily privileged ones! Imagine that!
How many times, for example, can we hear Ellen lament how “bored” she is, complaining from her beachfront mansion that she feels like she’s in “jail” before we feel, oh I don’t know, a little twitchy? (She also said it feels like jail because “everyone in here is gay” which is an incredible way for a prominent figure in LGBTQ history to punch down.)
It’s tone-deaf at best and downright unfeeling and inconsiderate at worst — especially as the human beings who are actually in prisons across the country are living without soap and proper protections from the coronavirus.
Not exactly the Relatable Content™ she thinks it is, is it? She’s not alone. Many other celebrities have sighed away their “boredom,” completely oblivious to the fact that during a global pandemic being bored is a luxury. A friend of mine made note of the affluence of boredom recently, and I haven’t been able to stop thinking about it for weeks.
Most of us simply cannot afford to be bored right now.
Last month, Vanessa Hudgens showed her whole entire ass in an Instagram Live (has anyone else noticed that there are approximately 45,678 celebrity-led Instagram Live videos daily now?) when she nonchalantly shrugged off the fact that lots of people are going to die because it’s “inevitable.”
What she didn’t say — and didn’t have to, really, because the subtext is quite clear — is that a lot of poor people are going to die. People who don’t live the way she does. And just like that, she ruined my now-annual viewing of Netflix’s The Princess Switch. Something about her not caring if vulnerable people die leaves a decidedly shitty taste in my mouth, I dunno!
Justin Timberlake recently lamented having to parent his five-year-old son, Silas, full-time, calling it “not human” to have to parent 24/7.
Imagine admitting you haven’t parented 24/7 in the five years you’ve been a dad and expecting worn-down parents who don’t make millions of dollars or have massive amounts of help to relate! People on Twitter called Timberlake and Biel out for being part of the out-of-touch bunch.
And here’s Melissa Joan Hart, who is a white woman, posting a face mask selfie on her Instagram page, musing that had she worn such a mask prior to the pandemic, the grocery store employees would have “called the cops.”
Clarissa might want to explain what she means by that, is all I’m saying.
In a now-deleted post, Madonna shared a video on her Instagram account where she called the coronavirus “the great equalizer” while languishing in her giant bathtub.
“It’s the great equalizer and what’s terrible about it is what’s great about it,” she said. “What’s terrible about is it’s made us all equal in many ways and what’s wonderful about it is that it’s made us all equal in many ways … We’re all in the same boat. And if the ship goes down, we’re all going down together.”
Hmm. Yes, we keep hearing “we’re all in this together.” It’s a frequently repeated sampler phrase amid this horrific moment of global terror, and sure, it’s easier to cope when we know many of us are collectively feeling the same way.
But when celebrities and other wealthy people of immense privilege are able to get tested for COVID-19 with ease and expediency while a majority of others cannot get tested at all, well, where’s the “togetherness” in that? Not to mention the life-or-death disparities in healthcare for rich people versus poor.
Then there was Gal Gadot’s attempt at togetherness with the well-intentioned yet ill-conceived “Imagine” video. Maybe you watched a bunch of celebrities singing off-key in self-recorded videos and found it to be charming. And that’s okay! Find your joy wherever you can and all that.
But it’s also a little cringey for reasons that have nothing to do with the caliber of performances. I love a lot of famous people, and many of them were in that video (James Marsden, Mark Ruffalo, and Maya Rudolph, I’m looking at you). But this video got absolutely roasted online for a reason — it’s just not enough right now. The self-satisfaction on some of their faces feels condescending, like we should all be appreciative of such a “good deed.”
We can’t expect celebrities to fix the problems of the world. I know that. But if you’ve got the money and power to make a notable difference — do that. Warble through John Lennon songs on your own time because right now ain’t it.
Not all of the rich and famous have proven themselves to be “bad” during this crisis. Celebrities like Pink (who, it’s worth mentioning, was able to get tested for COVID-19 twice) and John Legend singing at-home live concerts is an example of purity and genuineness. Ryan Reynolds and Blake Lively have put their money where their mouth is and donated to relief efforts for food banks and bartenders who are out of work. Mandy Moore and her husband performed a lovely duet of her famous solo from A Walk to Remember. Britney Spears and Taylor Swift have directly donated cash to fans in need of groceries and everyday essentials like diapers and toilet paper. Dolly Parton, a literal angel, has donated $1 million to efforts to find a cure for COVID-19 in addition to reading bedtime stories to kids. And just try not to cry watching John Krasinski, Emily Blunt, Lin-Manuel Miranda, and the entire original cast of Hamilton make the day of one little girl who had her Broadway-bound birthday plans canceled.
Cardi B recently used her social media platform to call out celebrities for having better access to COVID-19 tests and medical resources.
I firmly believe in focusing on what people are doing versus what they aren’t as often as possible. I also believe in calling out unmoored, wildly oblivious privilege when I see it, as often as I can.
Many of these celebrities have enough money to live several lifetimes over and are currently self-isolating in homes the size of the Titanic. While the death count mounts higher every single day and over 6 million Americans are filing unemployment claims amid a burgeoning recession, well, maybe now isn’t the right moment for their very public “boredom.”
Celebrities: we love you for many reasons. We really do. But you need to read the f*cking room.
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