Once upon a Pandemic in Hollywood

Photo by Martin Jernberg on Unsplash

What is the role of celebrities during a global crisis? It is difficult to determine but celebrities are expected to hold some form of social responsibility and act more mindfully as they influence millions of people. 

As the spread of coronavirus became more rampant and countries began imposing complete lockdowns – we were exposed to a host of reactions from different celebrities. Some of these were reassuring, but others were rather enraging. 

Gal Gadot took to Instagram last week and posted a star-studded video of the song ‘Imagine’ in order to uplift the masses. Initially, the video seemed harmless. In a way, it was almost reassuring to see celebrities voice their fears about coronavirus. 

Tom Hanks’ revelation that he and his wife Rita Wilson had tested positive for coronavirus served as a caution to those not implementing self isolation. 93 year old Mel Brooks and his son Max also demonstrated the importance of social distancing. Subsequently, Arnold Schwarzenegger also took to his instagram posting about the dangers of coronavirus and urged his followers to practice social distancing. Ariana Grande and Taylor Swift have, also, requested fans to take the outbreak seriously. More importantly, Idris Elba posted a very calm and composed video disclosing that he had tested positive for the virus. 

Each of the aforementioned reactions were carefully measured and people may have been able to find a temporary form of solace. Perhaps, it was refreshing to see the ever so glamorous celebrities home-bound, makeup less just like the rest of us for once. However, as the virus continued to spread and the fear increased – celebrities began revealing their true selves. 

Needless to say, Vanessa Hudgens’ take on the situation was simply ridiculous and insensitive. (I’ve never felt so uncomfortable with a video) According to Hudgens, people may die due to the virus, which is ‘terrible…but like inevitable?’. Hudgens has apologised since. Evangeline Lily, on the other hand, posted a picture on instagram after dropping her kids to gymnastics camp. Apparently, she saw it fitting to call people towards freedom during a pandemic? I think we can all agree that there is more at stake at the moment than just our freedom. 

Photo by Parker Amstutz on Unsplash

Earlier this week, Selena Gomez also posted a video doing the #SafeHands challenge. Obviously, Gomez’s intention is to encourage people to not only wash their hands but also ensure that they are doing it the right way. Kudos to her for that! But this could go horribly wrong, need I remind you of the Ice Bucket Challenge (a campaign to promote awareness of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis and raise donations for research). Even though the ice bucket challenge received a lot of attention, it quickly lost its purpose. Many people did the challenge without knowing what its purpose was and at one point, most people were doing it for fun. As for the #SafeHands challenge, let’s hope it can get more people to wash their hands even if it’s just for fun.

It is becoming increasingly apparent that most of us all across the world will spend an unknowable amount of time in self isolation – celebrities’ anxieties are bringing out the worst in them. Their concerts have been cancelled and productions ceased. As a result, they are taking to their social medias expressing discontent at the current situation and exposing how privilege functions. 

To add fuel to the fire, they are complaining about the shutdowns and admonishing their followers to cancel holidays, while the majority of them are self isolating in their mansions at the comfort of their homes. They are far from the seemingly mundane problems that a lot of us are facing at the moment. They do not need to worry about stocking up on items or paying the rent or not having a job (these are only a few of the many issues). 

It goes without saying that celebrities are also flawed and often unaware of the impact their actions might have. They might be just as anxious as us – the virus does not care whether you are rich or poor. It is, however, more exasperating to see them act so irresponsibly in a time like this because they have a lot more people paying attention to them. Their actions have a larger impact. At best, they can use their platforms to raise more awareness by broadcasting messages from public health officials and encouraging people to implement the advice given by officials. Instead of highlighting existing inequalities.

Many countries are already suffering from medical equipment shortages, thousands of people across the world remain unaware if they have been infected because they can not get tested. It is indeed a testing time for everyone and everyone is expected to be a little bit more considerate. Unfortunately for celebrities, the responsibility is greater as they have got more eyes on them.

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