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Celebrities need a lesson in tone-deafness

Celebrities need a lesson in tone-deafness

Celebrities need a lesson in tone-deafness
April 03
12:00 2020

As the COVID-19 pandemic rages on around the world, celebrities seem to be losing their sanity. From poorly choreographed dance Tik Toks to eerie monologues from talk show hosts, it seems the celebrity bubble is starting to suffocate its inhabitants. 

Among the strangest of posts, “Wonder Woman” actress Gal Gadot posted a video on her Instagram featuring celebrities such as Natalie Portman, Sia and Leslie Odom Jr. to sing a tag-team version of John Lennon’s “Imagine.” The video goes verse-by-verse through the song, with many struggling to hold the tune and others excelling at their five-second clip. 

On social media, Gadot and her menagerie of celebrities were roasted for their literal and metaphorical tone-deafness. The self-satisfaction and pathetic attempt of kindness reveal the obliviousness of many celebrities and public officials in regard to public sentiments and tastes. 

Maybe it’s the infamous video itself, but having a group of mega-rich celebrities telling me to simply “stay positive” during a catastrophic health crisis doesn’t necessarily sit well with me. Their naĩve deed is a bit like Marie Antoinette’s infamous quip, “let them eat cake,” without the cake, but plenty of tone-deafness and smugness to go around. 

Throughout Gadot’s trainwreck of a video, I couldn’t help but notice the backgrounds of each individual clip. Actors and artists sitting in their multi-million dollar homes, singing (or attempting to) in their expensive loungewear and surrounded by their luxury furniture. It’s all but a reminder that although we’re all in self-isolation together, they still have the luxury and money to act like they will not feel the repercussions of COVID-19. 

Gadot isn’t the first celebrity to come under fire during the COVID-19 pandemic. “High School Musical” actress Vanessa Hudgens posted an Instagram Live video dismissing the public’s fears of dying from the virus, “which is terrible, but, like inevitable?” 

She later apologized for her comments, but her nonchalant comments definitely haven’t aged well considering the 37,000 global deaths and over 750,000 cases reported as of March 30. 

This isn’t the first time public figures have exhibited tone-deafness and hypocrisy in regard to public opinion or tastes. Actress Sofia Vergara was slammed in August 2019 for posting photos captioned, “Esperando a Dorian,” which translates to “Waiting for Dorian,” after four states had declared a state of emergency before Hurricane Dorian caused widespread damage. 

Dozens of celebrities called for “unity” after President Donald Trump was elected, stars such as Matthew McConaughey, Nicole Kidman and Azealia Banks making headlines to try to work with the administration and “be constructive with him over the next four years,” McConaughey said. 

These comments only push back the curtain between ordinary citizens and celebrities. They can afford to take a meaningless stance and not worry about the repercussions of an administration’s actions unlike the rest of us. 

“It is, in reality, an act of laziness that only the extremely privileged can afford,” a GQ article said in response to McConaughey’s commentary. 

So maybe the “Imagine” video did get some good laughs and possibly cheer someone’s day up, but I felt very much like a French commoner during Marie Antoinette’s legendary “let them eat cake” moment. To have a mashup of multi-millionaires make a video telling their fans to stay positive while a global pandemic picks up more victims every day feels like a slap in the face in the name of positivity.  

Celebrities and public figures have an elevated place within our society, they have the power to change government policy and bring issues to light with few obstacles. For example, Ashton Kutcher’s nonprofit Thorn has identified thousands of online child sexual abuse and human trafficking victims since 2012 and has actively partnered with numerous companies to identify and aid these victims. 

Celebrity philanthropy has been lauded for decades and has funded natural disaster aid, healthcare systems, social movements, youth programs, schools and other causes (and think of the tax deductions, celebs!). 

Maybe this pandemic isn’t a celebrity’s biggest concern at the moment, but for the rest of the world, it is. Instead of making iPhone music videos and asking followers to donate to COVID-19 relief organizations, how about putting your money where your mouth is?

We get it, society and the government has deemed you more important than the ordinary civilian, allowing you to receive COVID-19 testing when not showing symptoms after shortages of tests were reported across the nation. 

We get it, you don’t have to worry about your financial security and healthcare like ordinary citizens, because while you’re making tone-deaf music videos about “hoping for a better world,” the rest of the country has to worry about the impending recession, decreasing healthcare system capacity, possibly infecting immunocompromised family and friends, unemployment and the government’s “too bad, so sad” approach to the pandemic.

So, go ahead and tell us ordinary civilians to simply stay positive rather than donating to COVID-19 relief programs or using your privileged status to call to attention the numerous problems our government has pushed upon us ordinary civilians. 

There’s nothing like being told to look on the bright side when thousands of people are dying and all celebrities are doing is making silly music videos about their boredom and isolation. 

So celebrities, please check your privilege at the door and educate yourself on this health crisis before it comes knocking at your door. 

Featured Illustration: Ryan Gossett

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Sarah Berg

Sarah Berg

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1 Comment

  1. Dr. Jim
    Dr. Jim April 04, 16:19

    Great comment. At least, here in Oregon, we are handling it pretty well. But, PEOPLE LISTEN, the politicos lie (as is their defalt possition), and we die. Hey girls, can you now see why I had no children? We have been pretty lucky for a couple of hundred years but “so be it.”

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