Celebrities, This is Not What We Need From You Right Now

Posted on March 19, 2020

Okay, so this happened.


And we may never stop cringing.

When Vanity Fair asked us (*checks nails nonchalantly*) about the future of celebrityhood in a red carpetless, pop cultureless new future, we noted that eventually, they were all going to turn to social media for the attention that their jobs force them to become addicted to. What didn’t make it into the piece was our prediction that a lot of them were going to embarrass themselves before this was all over. Vanessa Hudgens damn near blew up her career because she probably popped an edible and decided an Instagram story was just what the world needed from her at that moment.

Look, literally everyone is trying to figure out what the new reality actually is, so we don’t blame any non-essential personnel for not quite having a handle on what their roles and duties are supposed to be. Like many writers/critics/bloggers/podcasters, we are trying to work things out ourselves, during this period when the things we write about most often – pop culture, celebrity, movies, television, and fashion – have all come to an abrupt halt. But we know this like we know nothing else: People aren’t coming to us for the latest statistics on the spread of the virus. They’re not coming to us to look for lesson plans as they suddenly become home-schoolers to their children. And they’re definitely not coming to us to hear us spread panic or blame. People are coming to us for distraction and entertainment. And we are never more proud of our jobs than at those times when people need distraction and entertainment like they’ve never needed it before.

So celebrities, as two guys who are both marginally involved in the same sort of work as you (distraction and entertainment) as well as longtime critics and commentators on what you guys do and how you guys are doing it, please take the following advice: Know your role. Do your job. Figure it out. Yes, you all have phone cameras and social media accounts. That’s where it’s all going to happen for you in the next few months. But here’s the thing, and we have to be really blunt about this: Folks really don’t want these earnestly depressing, badly lit and shot hostage videos from you guys. Instead of providing solace and comfort to a stressed and anxious public, you gave them something to roll their eyes at or cringe at the sight of it. Yes, this was all well-intentioned and no, it’s not hurting anyone. But we do tend to think a video like the one above is likely to provoke as much panic as it soothes. A bunch of earnest celebrities in gardening clothes and no makeup crooning about there being no heaven in the middle of a pandemic does not a tender, calming moment make.

Obviously, no one’s asking you all to put on a gown and a fully beat face while standing in your living rooms (although we’d be ever so grateful if some of you did), but the fact remains that the public wants their stars to be stars. They want to be dazzled and entertained. And if you think this isn’t the time for such things, you couldn’t be more wrong. Go look at what Hollywood did during World War II or even after 9/11. They gave the public the kind of razzle-dazzle they were desperately in need of. Charm us. Put on a show. Have your stylist send over some cute looks, put one on every day, face your phone, and sing, act, dance or juggle for all those lovely people out there, desperate to be dazzled.

In other words less earnestness, more Debbie Allen:


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