It is well-documented that the coronavirus pandemic has affected everyone from the poor to the rich. The social media posts of celebrities who aren’t suffering in a way that poorer individuals can relate to upsets Los Angeles Lakers legend Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, who wrote an editorial for The Hollywood Reporter chastising some of the elite for their recklessness.
Here are excerpts from Abdul-Jabbar’s piece:
“In times of crises, fame can be a valuable platform for mobilization and inspiration, but COVID-19 has rewritten the rules, and too many famous faces need to stop and think before they post.”
“Evangeline Lilly shared a defiant Instagram post (2.3 million followers) on March 16 announcing that, despite President Trump declaring a national emergency three days earlier, ‘Just dropped my kids off at gymnastics camp. They all washed their hands before going in. They are playing and laughing.’ Naturally, there was a vehement backlash, and at first she held her ground, suggesting the virus was just a political ploy: “Don’t abuse this moment to steal away more freedoms and grab more power.” Basically, the kind of nonsense rants you’d expect to find scrawled on a cardboard sign on a freeway off-ramp. Ten days later, she apologized while assuring everyone that she and her family were self-quarantining.”
“On March 16, Vanessa Hudgens told her 38.7 million Instagram followers in a live stream, while applying makeup, that estimates that the outbreak might last until July sound like ‘a bunch of bullshit.’ Her estimate, based on her vast knowledge of pandemics, was, “Like, I dunno, I think it’ll last, like, a month?”
She added: ‘It’s a virus, I get it. Like, I respect it. But at the same time, like, even if everybody gets it, like, yeah, people are going to die, which is terrible but, like, inevitable?’ Despite her contrived and pandering middle-school sleepover-speak, Hudgens is 32. Like Lilly, she faced an angry backlash and apologized. Still, how many of those 38 million followers, emboldened by her dismissal of the virus, spent the next 24 hours going out, getting infected and infecting others? Death may be inevitable, but did it require her help?”
“Justin Timberlake, who has donated generously to the food bank in Memphis, posted a photo to his 58.5 million Instagram followers of his wife, Jessica Biel, and a dog in a beautiful snowscape with the caption: ‘Out here social distancing with the fam and a lot of these [tree emojis]. I hope you guys are staying safe and healthy. We need to stick together and look out for each other during this crazy time.’ To many people in a small space with their whole family or multiple roommates, or standing in line to buy toilet paper, that photo doesn’t feel like we’re all in it together. Celebrities shouldn’t be ostracized for their wealth, but they should be sensitive enough not to rub it in the faces of the fans who enabled that fortune.
“The most dangerous and insensitive celebrity of all is former Celebrity Apprentice host and current president of the United States. On March 29, when we had 2,500 deaths from the coronavirus, Trump tweeted about what mostly occupies his mind: ‘President Trump is a ratings hit. Since reviving the daily White House briefing Mr. Trump and his coronavirus updates have attracted an average audience of 8.5 million on cable news, roughly the viewership of the season finale of The Bachelor. Numbers are continuing to rise …’ While the numbers of the dead are rising, he’s giddy about his ratings. At the same time, many news outlets are debating whether or not to carry his briefings live because, according to doctors and health officials, he has ‘repeatedly delivered information that doctors and public health officials have called ill informed, misleading or downright wrong.’
“Like it or not, stars with their millions of followers do have the power to affect the course of this pandemic by what they say. Which is why it’s crucial that while they’re self-isolating, they also need to be self-editing. Saying ‘we’re all in this together’ is easy; proving it is the challenge.”