Having an infectious virus unleashed onto the face of the Earth is certainly one way to start this new decade. Coronavirus disease, labeled COVID-19, is a respiratory disease that can be fatal to the elderly, younger children, and those with pre-existing medical conditions. Totaling up to nearly 2 million (as of April 13, 2020, 21:53 GMT) cases internationally, COVID-19 was declared a pandemic, and quarantines and lockdowns began to be issued to citizens. With social distancing measures in place and human contact limited, people began to resort to social media as their main source of, well, everything. From social interactions and entertainment to news, social media has almost become a necessity of life. According to the New York Times, messaging on Instagram and Facebook has increased by over 50 percent in multiple countries.
During these unprecedented and isolated times, people have come together online to spread positive news and stories to keep morale high. Celebrities and social media influencers began to take advantage of their platforms to jump on this bandwagon.
John Krasinski, known for his sarcastic role as Jim Halpert in The Office, created a weekly YouTube news show, Some Good News, to highlight positive events during this crisis. Krasinski’s show diverts viewers from the pandemic and sheds light on supportive, uplifting events, such as a husband singing to his wife from outside the window of her nursing home room.
Something that makes this show unique to any other talk show is John Krasinski’s choice of special guests. In Episode 1, Krasinski converses with Coco, a girl who was met with a small, socially distant parade of her friends and family celebrating her last chemotherapy treatment. Only three episodes in, the YouTube channel already has 1.7 million subscribers. He continues to bring up helpings of good news (including his latest best-wishing to the Grads of 2020), making us wonder if this sort of positivity is something that should continue even outside a pandemic.
However, on the other spectrum, certain celebrities have been bashed for their attempts to lift spirits. Gal Gadot, the Israeli actress who plays Wonder Woman, posted on her Instagram a cover of John Lennon’s Imagine, featuring herself and several other celebrities.
Though created with somewhat good intentions, the two-minute post was met with criticisms and mockery. The words “cringe”, “out of touch”, and “tone deaf” were thrown around. Snarky, mocking renditions and edits of the cover were shared across Twitter.
Users commented upon how the celebrities were preaching about self-isolation while in their million-dollar mansions and failing to shed light on the less fortunate who do not have the privileges to be in safe, stable conditions during the pandemic. Casey Cipriani, a film writer at Bustle, well represented the sentiments of many users by tweeting, “Hey celebs, we don’t want to be sung to. We want you to use a million or two of your money and order ventilators, masks, and gloves from the manufacturers then donate them to a hospital. Or pay for the salaries of an entire staff at a bar, restaurant, or daycare.”
The most ironic, and almost comical, part about all this is the fact that both methods of delivery (John Krasinski’s Some Good News and Gal Gadot’s Imagine) united people. Just with different sentiments. Are celebrities using this pandemic to flaunt their “humanitarian” side? Possibly. But this pervasive situation is impacting everyone, regardless of age, gender, sexuality, race, ethnicity, etc. The virus does not discriminate. The intention people may have behind their seemingly compassionate actions during these pressing times should not be the main focal point. The fact that the individual had a positive impact on the community through their actions (or attempted to, at least), whether it was by donating money or boosting morale, should be appreciated. What is the good of shaming people, when they are simply attempting to take action on an issue that not everybody has the power to even stand up to? What is the good of spreading more negativity when the media is already flooded with melancholy statistics?