Whenever I read a magazine, I see headlines that read “Celebrities — They’re Just Like Us,” with pictures of famous actors, musicians and athletes plastered across the pages, showing us how they pick up dry cleaning, go to the gas station, shop for groceries and — my favorite — eat at restaurants. I’ll even admit that I got a little excited when I saw that Harry Styles was drinking a Starbucks coffee, just like me.
Those are just a few of many things celebrities and us “normal” people have in common. In the last nine months of the Covid-19 pandemic, everyone around the world has shared the same common feeling of being quarantined in our homes, separated from loved ones and having to put school, jobs, hobbies, celebrations and vacations on hold. Well, actually, not all of us.
While many celebrities did partake in the mandatory lockdowns for the first few months, at some point that lifestyle instantly changed for them and it seemed as if the virus was gone. Some of them got away with it by flying under the radar, while others were exposed by social media platforms or they simply posted themselves in a private jet while wearing a mask to their next destination.
Near the end of October, Twitter was throwing the whole Kardashian-Jenner posse under fire as Kim Kardashian West celebrated her 40th birthday on a private island, where she tweeted “After 2 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.” An episode of “Keeping Up With the Kardashians” later revealed that Scott Disick and Khloe Kardahian both tested positive for Covid-19.
As Kardashian West continued to flood Twitter with yet more pictures, flaunting how privileged and lucky she is to have the lifestyle she has during a pandemic, people were not afraid to speak their minds and let her know how ridiculous all of that was. My personal favorite response is a clip from “KUWTK” in an episode where Kim is crying about losing her diamond earring in the ocean, while older sister Kourntey famously quotes, “Kim, there’s people that are dying.” She wasn’t wrong then and she sure isn’t wrong this time around.
In the following weeks, Kendall Jenner had her 25th birthday party, where she asked her guests to “take all of the photos you want but please do not post on social media of any kind.” As a normal person, I understand that someone wouldn’t want the word to get out that you aren’t exactly following proper Covid-19 guidelines.
But because celebrities are given constant attention and live their lives directly under the spotlight, they should be the ones setting an example for young people. With the influence celebrities had during the election, encouraging people to vote, they should have that same influence during a pandemic.
After times like these, I wonder if celebrities even realize the influence they have on the millions of lives around the world. “The same way celebrities were pushing their followers to go out and vote, they should encourage their fans to social distance and mask up,” said DePaul senior Nicole Callo. “We had an unprecedented turn out in this election because of the efforts we all made to vote, celebrities were able to contribute to that and should do the same in fighting Covid-19.”
I’ve been going back and forth lately on how we should approach this type of situation, and considering the times we live in now, I do believe that we should be holding celebrities to a higher standard during the pandemic. I say this because celebrities are influential people and are definitely seen as role models to different demographics and age groups. Especially during the pandemic, there are several celebrities that I idolize and have been a fan of for most of my lifetime that have not consistently followed safety guidelines, and sadly, it’s started to make me think of them differently.
Self-care and taking care of loved ones is more important now than ever. And seeing celebrities like the Kardashians flying in and out of the country and being tested whenever they feel like it truly makes me upset.
“I think celebrities more than ever need to be conscious of what they do and how they act,” Callo said. “Influencers coined their name for a reason and they have the potential to really be superspreaders if they run into fans on the street and take photos with them. Young people look up to social media stars, especially for trends. Seeing people maskless could easily become a trend to them.” Influencers have the ability to change anyone’s lifestyle, from how they eat, dress or act.
Social media, of course, has had a big role in all of this drama. Whatever type of platform I use, I always see the celebrities that are somewhere on a beach or dining out in Los Angeles. Earlier this week, Ariana Grande called out TikTok performers and other influencers for socializing in large groups and for continuing to party during the pandemic.
While thinking about this topic, I reached out to Paul Booth, a professor of communications at DePaul University, for his thoughts on whether we should hold celebrities to a higher standard.
“I don’t really feel like it is my place to tell celebrities how to act, but I do think that celebrities should be aware of the influence they have on people and take it seriously,” he said. Celebrities do have a responsibility, regardless of how small or large their fanbase is. If there are people who look up to you, subscribe to your accounts and genuinely care about what you do, your influence definitely matters.
“It’s a tough question because we don’t know what celebrities are actually doing and there’s always an incentive to not want it to be influential…if it’s a celebrity that you don’t like,” Booth continued. “Celebrities that you like, do the right thing, we want to be influential because we want more people to be doing that thing.”
Celebrities should be held to a higher standard. I really do understand that these celebrities are just trying to live their lives, because I am doing the same thing. “Celebrities aren’t the only ones breaking the rules right now,” Booth said. “They’re just more obvious, because they’re the most visible.”
At the end of the day, we’re all itching to go back to the world we’re used to living in, but in order to get that back, we all need to work together. Not only do these certain big names in entertainment have to take care of themselves for their own reasons, but for the fans that look up to them every day as well. Whether you’re famous or not, it’s the right choice to set a good example for others and encourage each other to mask up.