Celebrities Are Actually Not Like Us at All, Huh?

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Stacy Lee Kong

Jan 06 2021

6 mins read

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Last week, I really hoped Friday Things would remain a coronavirus-free zone—I was thinking it could be a nice pop culture escape from the rest of the news cycle, something I desperately needed. But it wasn’t meant to be. Pop culture always reflects what’s going on in the world, after all, and what’s going on right now is COVID-19.

So: here we are talking about it. Or rather, here we are talking about the celebrities who are talking about it, and how they’re showing us, yet again, that they’re living in a totally different world.

Yes, I’m talking about That Video. But I’m also talking about Evangeline Lilly refusing to self-isolate because, as she puts it, she values freedom over her life, despite living with her father, who has stage four leukemia.

And Vanessa Hudgens’ very strange, very insensitive IG Live, when she said, “Til July sounds like a bunch of bullshit. I’m sorry, but like, it’s a virus. I get it, I respect it, but at the same time, even if everybody gets it, people are gonna die, which is terrible, but like, inevitable?” (She has since apologized, with the excuse that her comments were somehow taken out of context.)

And the fact that every celebrity in the world seemingly has access to coronavirus testing whether they have symptoms or not, unlike us plebes, who won’t get tested if we don’t qualify, even though asymptomatic people can still spread the virus.

And even the updates from celebs that would otherwise be totally inoffensive, like Nicole Richie’s garden (so nice that she can avoid the grocery store because she has a garden and chicken coop on her acres of land!), Kourtney Kardashian seemingly social isolating in a literal field and Jimmy Fallon’s indoor slide, which looks like it’s bigger than my entire living room.

It seems like every time I log onto social media, I’m annoyed by another celebrity who’s demonstrating just how out of touch they are. To be fair, this isn’t all on celebs—they’re just fulfilling the social contract that we’ve all been holding them to, posting “relatable” content that we have shown them we want with our likes and follows and comments. But I genuinely think something has changed—at least, it has for me. In the past, it has been very easy to see the ways we’re all alike, especially since social media offers the illusion of unprecedented access. Celebrities love their kids! They make awkward faces! They get high and live-Tweet Cats! I mean really. Who doesn’t do that stuff? But when we’re all trapped in our homes worrying about money, health and (I can’t believe this is still a thing but…) toilet paper supplies, seeing stars check in from their mansions is jarring at best and infuriating at worst. And that’s not because I want their material belongings. It’s because I want their peace of mind. I want my biggest worry to be self-care, not the health, safety and security of myself or my loved ones.

And that disparity is why Gal Gadot can think it’s a good idea for a bunch of celebrities to record an off-key rendition of “Imagine,” which includes anti-capitalist sentiment like, “imagine there’s no possessions/I wonder if you can/no need for greed or hunger,” or Lilly can refuse to self-quarantine, or Fallon can unironically post a heartfelt message from his gigantic slide. They know they’ll be okay. They have money, so they will always be able to get treatment from a qualified doctor. They’ll never run short on food. They’ll never have to ration their medicine. Their work might dry up for the next little while, but their accountants have likely invested their millions wisely and therefore, they’ll be just fine.

I do not have any millions invested, unfortunately, so all I do these days is worry.

Of course, some celebrities are doing the right thing: NBA teams are donating money so arena staff can still get paid. In addition to hanging out on his giant slide, Fallon has donated to Feeding America, as have Blake Lively and Ryan Reynolds. (The couple also donated money to Food Banks Canada.) Frozen star John Gad is reading kids one story a day on his Twitter account, while other celebs, including Camila Cabello, Kamala Harris and Noah Centineo, are posting videos of themselves reading stories on Instagram and Facebook to entertain kids and parents who are stuck at home due to social distancing. (They’re also soliciting donations to help “Save the Children and No Kid Hungry make sure schools and community programs have the support they need to keep brains and bellies full.”) And I will admit to enjoying Chris Martin’s #TogetherAtHome concert from his (mostly normal-looking) living room. That’s all great, and if there are any celebrity PR people reading this now, maybe encourage your clients to do this kind of stuff?

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But all my annoyance has also reminded me that there’s actually a solution here. There has been a lot of talk recently about whether extreme wealth should exist. If anything, I think the past few weeks have shown us that we need money for lots of things that will make our society better for everyone: a strong public health strategy, pharmacare, EI benefits that are available to those of us who don’t currently qualify for EI. So maybe the solution isn’t to eat the rich, it’s to tax the shit out of them.

And Did You Hear About…

This WILD tale of a lesbian couple who were targeted with a false sexual harassment claim because one of them received a job offer that someone else wanted.

TikTok pushing moderators to suppress posts by people who they deemed ugly, poor or disabled.

The Wing being yet another example of white feminism.

RuPaul fracking on his Wyoming ranch (?!)

Wellington, a rockhopper penguin at Chicago’s Shedd Aquarium who’s spending his Wednesdays exploring since the facility is closed to visitors because of COVID-19.

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