Student column: Celebrity culture during a pandemic
"We're all in this together."
I've heard this phrase repeated countless times over the past couple weeks, with its intention being to rally people during a time of crisis. It's a positive message and preaches solidarity — we need to stick together now more than ever because we are all overcoming the same hurdles and heartaches during this pandemic.
But are we really?
The wealthy and powerful are not experiencing this pandemic the same way the average person is. The average person isn't self-quarantining in a mansion boasting 7,000 square feet, nor does the average person have so many resources at their disposal.
Most importantly, while celebrities are sharing their negative test results on social media, most Americans are finding it alarmingly difficult to even get a test in the first place.
Indeed, it's these wealthy, high-profile individuals who are leading the charge when it comes to uniting everyone around that rallying cry: "We're all in this together!"
However, COVID-19 seems to be cracking the shiny veneer of fame. For example, video updates by the likes of Jennifer Lopez, Ellen DeGeneres, Sam Smith and others have been met with a chilly public reception. Celebrities have never felt less relatable, and videos featuring their multimillion-dollar mansions and abundance of wealth do little to comfort people in a time of economic and emotional turmoil.
Gal Gadot's celebrity sing-along to John Lennon's "Imagine" went viral last month — just not for the reasons Gadot intended. Though created with good intentions, the final result was a tone-deaf mess that elicited an eyeroll from me and harsh words from many others.
With the number of cases and deaths on the rise in many states, millions losing their jobs, and a painfully unclear future ahead, it's hard to derive much inspiration from a video clip of millionaires singing off-key.
This image of wealth, success and perfection that celebrities project used to be an attractive sight to everyday people. Nowadays, it's more of a reminder of the immense disparity in privilege that plagues our nation. With everyone stuck in their homes, the vast difference between our lifestyles and that of celebrities has never been clearer.
That isn't to say the rich and powerful aren't entitled to be open about their hardships and struggles — everyone is, regardless of their background, influence or socioeconomic status.
However, we have to acknowledge that the coronavirus is hitting a certain population the hardest, and this population most definitely does not comprise the richest, most influential people in America. It's those who are in financially unstable situations, who don't have access to many necessary resources who are suffering the most. Right now, these are the people who should be the center of attention, not movie stars, singers or social media influencers.
Normally, celebrities would be lauded for using their platforms to spread a positive message. Unfortunately for them, this current situation is anything but normal.
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