Being under lockdown impacts everyone—even superstars. ‘We’re all in this together’, many say, and although technically we are, not all of us have the same resources to deal with the situation. The best that most of us can do is to stay home, donate what we can afford to hospitals and maybe even volunteer if we’re eligible.
On the other hand, celebrities have the possibility to make a bigger difference because of their influence, but also, let’s be honest here, because of their well-endowed bank accounts. Are celebrities of any help in tackling the pandemic, and if so, which are offering more than a daily Instagram live stream?
Let me start off by saying that although I tend to ridicule live streams, their potential cannot be ignored. Chris Martin playing the piano and the guitar in his living room might not be of any help to me, but it could make someone else’s day—a fan or a kid. Same goes for John Legend, Pink and the other famous musicians who decided to do daily or weekly home gigs. Even The Backstreet Boys reunited to sing the legendary I Want It That Way, conference call-style, and it didn’t disappoint.
Musicians are not the only ones who saw an opportunity in filming themselves doing what they do best. Turner Prize-winning artist and absolute icon of mine Grayson Perry just announced that he will launch Grayson’s Art Club, a Channel 4 show that will teach people self-isolating how to create different kinds of artworks. Perry’s aim is to push viewers to make art that is related to their experience in isolation and possibly exhibit them once the coronavirus pandemic is over.
Grayson’s Art Club could not only teach you some drawing, painting and sculpting skills, but it could also allow you to get out of your head for an hour—something that, at the moment, has proved to be a complicated task for many.
If free classes and live streams are not enough efforts in your opinion, there’s probably another celebrity doing something with more impact. Many famous actors, singers and influencers are donating to different causes in order to help tackle the coronavirus pandemic. In the US, the lockdown means that kids who depend on the care and nutrition they receive during school hours will struggle to get meals. That’s nearly 22 million American children who rely on food support.
While in the UK the government left a few schools open specifically for those kids, the US didn’t. The US charity No Kid Hungry provides meals for children from low-income families across the US while schools are closed. Actresses Angelina Jolie and Kristen Bell both donated to No Kid Hungry and encouraged anyone with the means to donate as well. Bell’s children also decided to help and add whatever money they had in their piggy bank to her donation, resulting in $150,007.96 (£125,000).
Rihanna also helped through her nonprofit organisation—the Clara Lionel Foundation (CLF) has donated $5 million (£4.2 million) towards different organisations in the US and around the world. The money was split between food banks in America, protective equipment for frontline health workers, research to develop a vaccine and work to accelerate testing and care.
Gossip Girl actress Blake Lively and her husband Ryan Reynolds also donated to help provide food for older people and low-income families. In the UK, X-Men actor James McAvoy donated £275,000 to the Masks For NHS Heroes campaign, which provides protective equipment for staff. McAvoy also shared a video in which he thanked NHS staff members for caring for people even without the right equipment.
Justin Bieber pledged in February to donate 200,000 renminbis (RMB), which equals to £23,500, to the children’s charity Beijing Chunmiao Charity Foundation to help with the relief efforts.
The list goes on. The fact is that, yes, celebrities are donating. Some are helping in other ways—whether you consider live streams as a distinct aid is up to you.
As Man Repeller’s brand director Harling Gross wrote in An Anthropological Catalogue of Celebrity Quarantine Antics, “Over the past couple of weeks, I have been equal parts alarmed, delighted, confused, and intrigued by the antics of various celebrities.” Celebrities are, just like us, doing their best to help tackle this pandemic while also staying home and safe. Donations, piano serenades and solo karaoke sessions are each a helping hand in these uncertain times.
My only advice for you is to keep a positive mindset. As bitter and pessimistic as I can be, I’ve recently discovered a more hopeful side of me—with all the bad news floating around, it’s good to get some positivity. Celebrities could always donate more money and ‘do more’, but having this mentality can then be reversed on yourself when, in fact, there isn’t much more you can do. So relax, enjoy Sir Elton John’s ‘living room gig’ and stay home.