Celebrities should be more proactive and sensitive during the COVID-19 pandemic

America’s wealthiest need a privilege check

Sreya Kumar

Many celebrities do not recognize their class privilege. While spreading positivity through Instagram hashtags and videos may be their way of reassuring us, it is simply not enough. They attempt to be more relatable to their audience when in reality they live completely different lives from us, and it’s time they acknowledge that. 

Reading about doctors who have to choose which patients receive treatment because of the lack of ventilators in Italy, the elderly having to say goodbye to their loved ones via an iPad and families losing their income because of the closure of non-essential services is heartbreaking and won’t be fixed by a montage of celebrities singing or clapping

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Actress Vanessa Hudgens was another celebrity called out for her insensitive remark: “people are gonna die which is terrible but inevitable.” Hudgens’ net worth is supposedly 14 million dollars — donating masks or ventilators instead of lamenting about the situation would probably help save a couple of lives. Marvel actress Evangeline Lilly admitted to choosing not to social distance because she “values freedom over her life.” While both parties have since apologized for their reckless comments, it’s disappointing to witness celebrities cocooned in their bubbles, unable to process the severity of the crisis, just because the virus hasn’t affected them personally.

COVID-19 has exposed a tragic hierarchy that is present in everyday American life — the rich are prioritized. President Donald Trump has said not to get tested if individuals don’t exhibit symptoms, while celebrities like Idris Elba and Kevin Durant tested positive despite not displaying any symptoms. They are given access to testing, premium healthcare and immediate attention because of their status in society when in reality, we are all human, and deserving of the same level of treatment.

However, it’s unfair to portray all celebrities as reckless and negligent of the matter at hand. Many are endorsing stay at home measures and going above and beyond to ensure that their respective audiences stay safe during this crisis. Actor Ryan Reynolds poked fun at celebrities for making the pandemic about themselves rather than acknowledging those in the frontlines and minimum wage workers, like those in grocery stores and fast food establishments.

Actor Dax Shepard and actress Kristen Bell have waived rent for their tenants for the month of April. Business mogul Bernard Arnault has instructed his luxury brands, namely Dior and Givenchy, to halt production of perfumes and manufacture hand sanitizers instead. More celebrities should be following their lead as it is bringing about positive, concrete change in this crisis.

Things may not be getting better anytime soon, and people are getting impatient, frustrated and angry. What we need right now is reassurance that celebrities are aware of how the virus is ravaging communities, and be more mindful of how their privilege can hinder or benefit this pandemic.