Celebrities, Capitalism and Coronavirus: How the Rich Feign Camaraderie in Times of Crisis

The Coronavirus Pandemic has rocked the world to its core. It has also exposed much of capitalism’s inherent flaws; lack of efficient resource management, under-funding of essential services, massive recessions and a focus on making profit even in times of crisis. In the midst of widespread panic, fear and economic instability, most of the world’s rich and powerful have been forced to flee to their multi-million dollar mansions and vacation homes. Suddenly, movie actors, celebrities and other cultural icons have found themselves stuck at home with not much to do.

So of course, it’s no wonder that some in this group have decided to try and cheer up people, show them that we are “all in this together.”

After all, as Madonna put it in a video from her luxurious bath, filled with rose petals: “It is the great equalizer.”

It is a strategy that often works for celebrities; situating themselves adjacent to major social movements or campaigns, all in an attempt to seem relatable in an increasingly digital age where your image and words are constantly being judged. Most of the time this works. Celebrities are often flouting donations made to charities and other organizations, sometimes ones they created themselves. However, this time seems different. Video taping themselves applauding, meant to encourage healthcare workers, shared by celebrities on social media platforms like Twitter are being eviscerated by the general public. Star actors like Gal Gadot have inflamed the masses with her and her celebrity friends’ rendition of John Lennon’s “Imagine” from their fully furnished homes.

Likewise, Pharell Williams was called out for his Tweet asking for donations to support healthcare workers during the crisis. The most liked response under his tweet is an admittedly cheeky but indicative one by the user @lesolnoir:

Videos of celebrities desperately trying to find things to do to show to others while in isolation are quickly being regarded by the public for what they are: Tasteless.

The celebrity cult is quickly evaporating as more and more people’s lives are swept under their feet by a pandemic and economic system that would rather they sacrifice themselves for its sake. Their calls for togetherness and camaraderie are overshadowed by the huge backyards with multiple gardens, the luxurious detailing, the massive amounts of space and recreation.

Their calls to unite everyone and encourage people are being overshadowed by their gross inability to be self aware that they are privileged. While millions of people wake up tomorrow not knowing when they will go back to work, they scroll through the countless videos of celebrities lounging around their kitchen the size of their entire apartment. While countless college students have to suddenly go back to unsafe, or abusive homes, celebrities drink fine wine while their kids ride hoverboards. While millions of health care workers go to work everyday terrified that they might become infected and traumatized over the inability to help patients, they find celebrities applauding them from their third-story balcony. As those who are immunocompromised fear for their lives just going to the grocery store, the rich complain that they aren’t sufficiently entertained.

Celebrity culture craves the normalcy of a culture that glorifies personal wealth and an economic system that exploits others for the gain of the few. Celebrity culture celebrates the gross excess, and in a time when things couldn’t look much worse, society has had enough.

Featured image credit: Madonna Instagram