The seamy underbelly of celebrity culture and its fusion with capitalism has been slowly revealing itself in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Celebrities have been angering the public more than usual lately: their incapability to relate to average people has shown them to be impressively unaware of themselves and their privilege. Celebrities continue to assure us that we are all in this together, however it suggests the opposite when they are live-streaming from their multi-million dollar homes.
On March 18, Gal Gadot, best known for her role as Wonder Woman, posted a video to Instagram containing 22 celebrities, including herself, singing John Lennon’s “Imagine.” Gal Gadot begins the song, followed by a variety of celebrities such as Will Ferrel and Jimmy Fallon. Many people were up in arms about this.
“Can you imagine how little self-awareness you must have to enlist a bunch of multimillionaires to sing about a world with ‘no possessions’ while huge numbers of people are losing their jobs?” asked Arwa Mahdawi of Support the Guardian.
Ellen DeGeneres has faced some criticism as well, after comparing quarantining in her mansion to being in jail. On April 6, “The Ellen DeGeneres Show” returned after having not been on air and altered their show according to the pandemic, moving from a studio to Ellen’s home.
“One thing that I’ve learned from being in quarantine is that people — this is like being in jail, is what it is… It’s mostly because I’ve been wearing the same clothes for 10 days and everyone in here is gay,” said DeGeneres, according to CBS News.
Her joke was not well received and suggests she has no awareness of the fact that millions of people cannot relate to the idea of being bored in a huge, expensive house. The coronavirus pandemic has affected prisoners especially, as the virus runs through the jails and puts innocent people at risk.
The virus does not care who a person is, and anyone can get infected. However, the rich and famous have had an easier time getting access to tests and proper treatment while average people suffer.
“Celebrity culture and capitalism are inextricably entwined. Both elevate the individual over the collective good. They rely on the lie of ‘meritocracy’,” said Mahdawi.