Somehow, Celebs Singing “Imagine” In Times of Crisis Makes Things Worse

Kristen Wiig, Gal Gadot and Pedro Pascal (From Gal Gadot’s Instagram)

Imagine, in the midst of a global crisis, a bunch of rich, famous people sing a song about “No possessions” and “A brotherhood of man” while many people struggle to figure out where their next check is coming from.

Well, no need to imagine it, it’s real.

Recently, in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, Wonder Women actress Gal Gadot and a bunch of other celebs (like Will Ferrell, Amy Adams, and Jimmy Fallon) released a compilation video of them singing John Lennon’s 1971 song “Imagine”.

Gadot said, “Doesn’t matter who you are, where you’re from. We’re all in this together.”

… Oh, boy.

Let me preface this by saying, this isn’t the worst thing in the world, and I want to assume that these people have good intentions. In fact, I’m a big fan of many of these celebs’ work.

But, videos like this trigger some questions for me, like:

“Did anyone ask for this?”, “ Do these people not have a groupchat?” and “Was this for us or for them?”

Perhaps, the most pressing question here is “How about sharing some f***ing money?”

Now I don’t want to assume that these celebs aren’t donating to those in need during this chaotic time. But if someone makes a video with a bunch of rich people in it, in the middle of an unpredictable health crisis likely to disproportionately affect those most vulnerable, I’m going to want to know what they’re doing to give back financially.

If you really want to “Imagine no possessions”, how about you give some sh*t away? Keep the sing-a-long.

I think a big part of the public critique of this video is also that we’ve seen it so many times. It feels as if when bad things happen there’s always a celeb commercial or social media video that’s meant to raise awareness or provide comfort.

Whether it’s for a natural disaster, voting, or global/human rights causes, here come the celebrities… and they’ve got a message!

The problem is that, no one really asks for it. And often, these videos feel excessively corny, self-important, hollow, and at times, condescending.

If anything, celebrities, especially those who have been rich, famous, white and otherwise privileged for a long time, need to do less talking and more listening to everyday people.

But, maybe some of the fault also lies on us. Maybe our culture cares too much about what celebrities say/do in times of crisis. As Dave Chappelle once recalled about the post-9/11 era, “Who gives a f*** what Ja Rule thinks at a time like this? …I want some answers that Ja Rule might not have right now.”

But still, I think celebrities hold some responsibility by feeding into this culture as well, and should probably take a step back from performative means of raising awareness (trust me, we’re aware) and quit trying to provide comfort (we don’t know y’all like that).

Maybe just work on having a bit of self-awareness… It’s easy if you try.

Philadelphia, born & raised. Writer, reader, part-time runner. Edinboro University, Class of 2011. Bylines: The Philadelphia Inquirer, Blavity, Philly Tribune.

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