March 11 was a stressful day for the world. Europe induced a 30-day travel ban, the NBA season got suspended and while my phone was blowing up with this news, I was struggling to finish a project before the start of spring break. I had a lot on my mind, being aware of the increasing cases of COVID-19 swirling across countries and dealing with the possibility that it might be my last week on campus for the semester. However, juggling global crises and last-minute due dates soon became the least of my worries when the worst news of all arrived.
When the headline “Tom Hanks and Rita Wilson test positive for coronavirus” popped up on my screen, it felt like the world had stopped spinning. Flashbacks of Woody the cowboy, Forrest Gump and the beloved train conductor from “The Polar Express” came rushing through my mind and I immediately stopped everything I was doing as Tom Hanks’ health became my first priority.
Two weeks later, an additional 60,000 cases have been reported in the U.S. with a stronger demand for tests. Although the amount of testing has significantly increased, it still doesn’t feel like enough to capture the entirety of infected victims, some of whom do not even show visible symptoms. When our favorite celebrities test positive for COVID-19, our immediate reaction is shock, sorrow and perhaps anger at the universe for getting Hollywood’s most wholesome man sick. It feels wrong to have felt like this now, considering Tom Hanks’ net worth of $400 million.
Being rich and famous has its perks. For one thing, you’re rich. Alongside that, people look up to you and no one wants to see their role model die. Therefore, people in higher positions are first in line for getting tested while everyday inhabitants and medical workers struggle for the opportunity. Having access to better healthcare, better doctors and better hospitals becomes very useful during times like these. It just sucks that it only applies to the top 1%.
Instead of using their readily available wealth to aid the current crisis, some celebrities have taken it upon themselves to battle science with art. Last week, Gal Gadot posted a compilation of her and fellow moguls singing John Lennon’s “Imagine,” a song that I gladly enjoyed until then. What was supposed to be a moving piece ended up being a source of discomfiture. If anything, being stared down by an A-list celebrity as they sing tone-deaf through a camera only brings the opposite of peaceful thinking.
The video gained more backlash than support, with people interpreting it as a poor effort against the pandemic. Citizens have lost their jobs, family members are dying and the last thing they want is someone singing about peace and hope within the comfort of their mansion. Lane Moore mocks the situation in a fairly sarcastic tweet:
“‘What if we did a modern version of ‘We Are The World,’ but it’s 20x as awkward, filmed on iPhones, most of the celebrities look like they hate that they’re in it and it solves nothing because this is a pandemic, and not a war?’ ‘Omg yes!’”
In better news, Ryan Reynolds and Blake Lively have since donated $1 million to food banks in North America as well as 30% of proceeds from Reynolds’ company, Aviation Gin, to recently unemployed bartenders. COVID-19 has certainly had a detrimental impact on low-income families and workers and it’s refreshing to see someone handle it appropriately.
“Imagine” is a good song, but not good enough to solve a pandemic. Instead, be like Ryan. Go donate. Sacrifice time to help someone out. Especially if you’re a celebrity.
Esther Ju is a campus correspondent for The Daily Campus. They can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.