Culture

Has coronavirus killed the cult of celebrity?

With no film releases, red carpets or even any good gossip, has the pandemic made celebrities redundant?

08.12.2020

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In these stressful, uncertain times, one thing is as clear as a fresh shot of botox: the rich and famous, in their lockdown lap of luxury, have never felt so un-relatable. At best, we discovered, they're annoying. At worst, they're actually quite offensive (but more on that later).

IMAGE | Alison jackson 

“You can't have celebrities walking the red carpet wearing masks and shields - but they might have to”

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"Is it the death of celebrity? I don't think so," says BAFTA-award winning British artist Alison Jackson, who has been exploring the impact of celebrity culture for more than two decades (her latest collection Truth Is Dead is currently showing at NeueHouse Hollywood). "But it's interesting what will happen next," she adds. "You can't have celebrities walking the red carpet wearing masks and shields - but they might have to. They'll have to start relying on their hairstyles more.'

Until then, it's time to celebrate the highs and lows of a year where gossip pages might have been lacking (Ben Affleck and Ana de Armas papped on their daily walk, anyone?), but at least we had social media. Because that, ladies and gentleman, is where celebs truly outdid themselves...

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Read the room, guys!

And the award for the biggest offenders this year go to...

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Gal Gadot

Poor Gal carries the can for this tone-deaf rendition of John Lennon's Imagine (Natalie Portman, Sarah Silverman and Jamie Dornan are just three of the stars who 'contributed') but she did orchestrate it (for want of a better word). 'Most of these people cannot even sing; their contributions suggest that the very appearance of a celebrity is a salve, as if a pandemic could be overcome by star power alone,' wrote Amanda Hess in the New York Times. Preach.

Madonna

Coronavirus is the "great equaliser," explained Madonna in an Insta-broadcast from her bathroom. "It doesn't care about how rich you are, how famous you are, how funny you are, how smart you are, where you live, how old you are..." If we're all in the same boat, Madge, how come you're writhing around in a milky bath tub full of rose petals?

JENNIFER LOPEZ

"Meditate. Move. Pray". Oh, J-Lo, if only it were that simple. One of the first celebrities to take to her socials when the pandemic first hit with words of wisdom and a picture from a glamorous shoot (where she's ironically touching her face), she then followed it up with a video taken in the garden of her Miami compound. "We can’t go out to any restaurants or anything but the service and entertainment here is pretty good," she wrote. “We all hate you," came one Twitter reply.

ELLEN DEGENERES

She may have been called out for the alleged mistreatment of staff on The Ellen Degeneres Show, but Ellen seems to have spent most of lockdown calling her celebrity mates via FaceTime for us all to watch. Annoying? Maybe. Comparing her multi-million dollar house to a jail? Definitely.

KIM KARDASHIAN

While our lockdown birthdays have brought us homemade banners, Prosecco toasts over Zoom and a reckless Moonpig habit, spare a thought for Kim Kardashian turning 40 in a pandemic. Actually, don't bother. "After two weeks of multiple health screens and asking everyone to quarantine, I surprised my closest inner circle with a trip to a private island where we could pretend things were normal just for a brief moment in time,” she gushed. You do you, Kim.

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AND BREATHE

Let's hear it for these little rays of sunshine...

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Sophie Ellis-Bextor

The glitterballs! The sequins! The tuuuuunes! Better than an episode of Strictly was singer (and former contestant) Sophie Ellis Bextor's 'Kitchen Disco'. This isn't just Sophie performing live from her West London home, it's a masterclass in sticking to what you know best. Celebs, take note.

STANLEY TUCCI

One advantage to not going out to bars anymore? Becoming a dab hand at the at-home negroni. Of course we have Stanley Tucci - showcasing his hidden talents on IG - to thank for that. His lovely, soothing voice won't do you any harm, either.

DOLLY PARTON

Our own grandparents might struggle to not cut off their head during a Zoom chat, but for 70-something celebs, lockdown has been the opportunity for a re-brand. Enter Dolly Parton, 74, who started reading bedtime stories to kids (and, let's face it, to the rest of us) in her 'Goodnight with Dolly' weekly web series.

MERYL STREEP

.... And Christine Baranski and Audra McDonald of course, who make up the 'Ladies Who Lunch' and who belted out the song (from the musical, Company) in their dressing gowns, cocktails in hand, in honour of the composer Stephen Sondheim's 90th birthday. The video not only raised money for ASTEP (Artists Striving to End Poverty), it was a much-needed lockdown mood.

CAPTAIN TOM

"To all those people who are finding it difficult at the moment. The sun will shine on you again, and the clouds will go away." And with that, Captain Tom Moore stole our hearts. A war veteran who we'd never even heard of before lockdown raised over £30m for the NHS by walking lengths of his garden and became the only 'celebrity' we'd ever care about again. Amen.

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Truth is Dead is showing at NeueHouse Hollywood until 18 December

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