Is a Serenade Really Enough During the Coronavirus Pandemic?

How celebrities are doing their part during the Coronavirus pandemic.

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Estee Yi

Suporna Das ’20 believes that celebrities should take advantage of their privilege to directly aid others in need. “They exist as idols and standards of achievement. I believe they have a duty to share and do their part about mitigating COVID-19 research and supporting small businesses,” said Das.

“Imagine there’s no heaven…” sang actress Gal Gadot. On March 18, 2020, Gadot posted a three-minute video of actors, singers, models, and others singing a line of John Lennon’s ‘Imagine.’ “We are in this together, we will get through it together,” read the caption. Celebrities including Kristin Wiig, Jamie Dornan, Mark Ruffalo, and SIA all followed, each singing one line of the song. The video ended with Gadot again, as she sang the last line of the chorus, and smiled at the camera.  

The video was compiled with good intent: to cheer others up during these difficult times. Many people commented heart emojis and “thank you’s” closer to the original posting date. “Lovely, much needed in [these] times!!” commented one user.  

I thought the video had a very somber but inspiring tone to it, which made me smile,” said Suporna Das ’20.Celebrities from all over the world recognize the severity of this pandemic and they are standing together as one through this song.”

However, there were others who were displeased with the video. More recent comments noted the video as “cringe-worthy.” One user wrote a mini-paragraph, explaining that celebrities need to be aware of their privilege and use it to donate and help aid others in the crisis. “All you insane celebrities can respectfully shut it,” one sentence read. One comment connected the video to Marie Antoinette’s infamous statement “Let them eat cake,” hinting at class differences and the privilege of being upper class.

One thing is for certain: everyone has been negatively affected by the coronavirus, but to varying degrees. The coronavirus has wreaked havoc on the world, halting daily life for many. Celebrities have experienced their share of negative effects; those in the entertainment industry took a significant hit. Movie theaters closed, and lockdown orders were issued in California, home to entertainment hubs like Hollywood and San Francisco. Due to social-distancing guidelines, many upcoming films and movies have delayed their release date as scheduled filming is cancelled. As movie-theaters and entertainment spaces closed, so did movie premieres. Movies are now released through streaming sites and live talk shows no longer have live audience feedback in the background. 

Many people are essential workers, working from home, or unemployed due to this pandemic. It is comforting for some to have their favorite celebrities continue to interact with the public. These have come in various forms: donations, special messages, internet streams, and fundraisers.

For instance, actor John Krasinski created a YouTube channel called “Some Good News” where he invites other celebrity guests to share humor as well as positive events that are happening amidst the pandemic. He recently hosted a virtual prom for current high school seniors to make up for prom and graduation cancellations. He decorated his filming space with gold trimmings and even dressed up himself. The prom featured guest musicians like the Jonas Brothers and Billie Eilish to perform. While it may not be the real thing, many viewers were cheered up as they dressed up, showed off their would-be prom outfits, and danced in the comfort of their homes.

Similarly, the Global Citizen One World: Together at Home concert was a fundraiser concert that had over 270 million viewers worldwide. Celebrities performed to contribute to the WHO’s COVID-19 Solidarity Response Fund. Joanna Zhao ’20 feels that this concert was a perfect way to both entertain and provide direct aid. “Although celebrities can choose to use their platform to provide emotional relief for their fans, I think ultimately it would be more beneficial to use their platform to provide financial relief during these times,” Zhao said. 

Celebrities are people, just like everyone else, yet there is still stark inequality when it comes to factors like popularity, financial status, and income, to name a few. This pandemic revealed just how large the wealth gap is, forcing many to recognize their privilege, which explains the controversy surrounding Gadot’s video. “Most celebrities have ten times more money than most families around the world will make in a lifetime, said Das. “They definitely have enough for themselves and probably too much to even know what to do with most of it.”

Various celebrities have used their platforms to address this inequality, highlighting the dangers for underrepresented communities that are suffering major losses from Covid-19 due to poor living conditions, lack of access to protective gear, and neglect by their governments. Celebrities have also taken to Twitter and Instagram to speak out against racism, police brutality, and lack of social distancing, encouraging fans to stay strong and work against the hate. 

Many feel that celebrities should be using their wealth to donate to people and organizations that directly aid those hardest hit by the coronavirus (essential workers, medical workers, and small businesses, among others). “I think that celebrities should use their widespread influence in other ways,” said Zhao. “The general public doesn’t need to see a video of multiple celebrities singing together to get through this pandemic. Instead, they can use their influence to help raise money for the cause, and support our healthcare workers who are so important during this time.”

This is not to say that no celebrities provide direct aid. Take Maggie Baird for example. Baird, a former actress and mother to singers Billie Eilish and Finneas, began a non-profit organization called “Support + Feed” that teams up with local vegan restaurants in the Los Angeles area to make meals for frontline workers. Recently, Baird and her team expanded the organization to New York City. She is using her platform and resources, directly involving herself in the aid efforts. Das feels that celebrities should consider following Baird’s actions. “If all the celebrities in the world came together and did their part in helping this situation, it would make so much of a difference,” she said. “I just wish they would do more for families out of the goodness out of their hearts.” 

Celebrities will always have access to a platform that some can only dream of having. It can be used to help or hurt, to aid or criticize, and to bring attention to issues that were once overlooked. In this time of crisis, all eyes are on our public figures. We only hope that they will take advantage of their platforms to help rather than to hurt. 

“The general public doesn’t need to see a video of multiple celebrities singing together to get through this pandemic. Instead, they can use their influence to help raise money for the cause,” Joanna Zhao ’20 said. 

 

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