No, frontline workers are not going to be the new A-list

Ideas

No, frontline workers are not going to be the new A-list

When Covid-19 is all over, soothsayers insist, we will have cancelled the rich and famous. Really?

Columnist
A health professional works at a shelter at the Lyttelton Sports Centre in Pretoria.
IN THE FRONTLINE A health professional works at a shelter at the Lyttelton Sports Centre in Pretoria.
Image: Phill Magakoe/AFP

Have celebrities been cancelled?

In the past two weeks, this vital question has been asked by an increasing number of opinion columnists, some of whom might even have been paid. And their verdict is dramatic. When Covid-19 is all over, they insist, our relationship with the rich and famous will have changed forever.

The evidence is everywhere. Every day, they explain, we are seeing the stark contrast between the pampered, self-obsessed A-listers and the real heroes working in hospitals around the world. The media-consuming masses are finally wising up, dismissing with contempt the claims of millionaire film stars and pop singers that we are all in this together.

Even now, these critiques argue, your and my social priorities are being realigned. A new solidarity with humanity is being forged, as we turn away from the hollow glamour of celebrity culture and start appreciating the real value of hardworking people.

It’s a radical idea, but I have to say the historical evidence supports their claim that major social upheaval makes us reject, or even despise, celebrities.

Consider the Great Depression and how it completely killed off Hollywood forever. As we all know, the last feature film made in the US came out in 1937, and since then it’s just been documentaries about nurses and social workers. And let’s not forget World War 2, which wiped out humanity’s interest in popular music and the private lives of rich people, and instead catapulted blue-collar workers to rockstar status.

After all, it’s common knowledge that, since 1945, the most admired and highest-paid people in the world have been nurses, teachers, supermarket cashiers and police officers. Because that’s what dramatic change and social upheaval does. It ends our infatuation with famous people and makes us care about the ones who actually keep things running. And not just for a few months after the crisis. It changes everything forever.

Certainly, the Covid-19 lockdown has already started changing the way people process information. Before the crisis, Facebook was awash with fake news, conspiracy theory and intellectual arse-dribble. Now, however, I see my Facebook friends posting fascinating YouTube clips about how the virus was designed by the New World Order who used Zionist bats and DNA harvested from Bill Gates’s nail clippings to design a pandemic that would turn us all into feminists who will willingly give the government our guns.

So, given that a new age of enlightenment is dawning, why wouldn’t we turn away from celebrities forever? It just makes sense, guys.

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