Last week, actress Gal Gadot got all of her millionaire celebrity friends to sing a cover of John Lennon’s “Imagine” and posted it on Instagram as a show of humanity in these trying times.
Before she starts to “sing” — though I wouldn’t call that singing by any standard — she introduces the cover by stating that COVID-19 “has affected the entire world, doesn’t matter who you are, where you’re from, we’re all in this together… I ran into this video of this Italian guy playing his trumpet in his balcony to all the other people locked inside their homes. And he was playing ‘Imagine’ and there was something so powerful and pure about this video.”
I don’t disagree with her entirely. I think we’ve all seen those videos of people quarantined in Italy singing from their balconies, or of people in Spain playing bingo across a courtyard. These moments are beautiful and show how we can still come together in moments of crisis.
Gadot and her friends tried to do something similar, but when she posted it she received a huge amount of backlash. Why are a bunch of quarantined celebrities allegedly trying to do the exact same thing any different than quarantined people singing in their balconies?
Well, first of all, that Italian man can actually play the trumpet. Most of the people in that video, Gadot included, cannot sing. Why on earth would they think publishing a minute-long video of celebrities croaking out the words to “Imagine” would make anyone feel any better?
These celebrities are delusional for believing that we would be comforted by their at-best mediocre cover. The most frustrating part of this is that they believe, by making it, they are performing some kind of activism or social good.
Someone a long time ago lied to all of these people and made them think they were important. And now we have to suffer through not only a viral pandemic but the gal of these talentless and insensitive millionaires.
Those videos of people singing and laughing with each other across balconies and courtyards are beautiful because they show normal people relating to one another in a time of crisis. They are not smug celebrities giving us an ear infection and expecting us to be grateful for it.
Gadot’s video is at best a weak gesture of solidarity because it operates under the false assumption that rich people are of any use to us. Gadot and her friends think they are important because, as millionaires, they are deemed valuable under capitalism.
As our social programs are gutted, we increasingly depend on the rich to be charitable in times of need. We are expected to be grateful for whatever breadcrumbs and limp gestures of goodwill these people offer because, most of the time, this is all we will get from them.
I don’t know if Gadot has donated to Feeding America, but I doubt she has. Why do we have to depend on these celebrities opening their dusty old wallets for anything to function in this country?
After having read about how many Republican senators sold their stocks a week before the market started to fall because of coronavirus fears, it’s clear that those in charge simply do not care about governing this country.
These people literally made money off of the suffering and probable deaths of thousands rather than implementing plans to prevent the spread of the virus. I’m not saying Gadot is like these senators, but I don’t think she’s far off.
Gadot is wrong in intimating that we’re all facing this together, because we’re not. She and her celebrity friends are safely tucked away in their million-dollar homes with their million-dollar healthcare plans. Meanwhile, regular people struggle to find ways to get time off work, to find income after being laid off or to pay for mounting medical bills.
Anyone can contract the coronavirus, but not everyone is going to survive it. Your survival rate depends on how much money you have on hand, and how much this government cares about you.
Lastly, I just want to say that we should permanently retire this “Imagine” song from being sung ever again. It’s a bad song. I think the sentiment is nice — I’m all for abolishing borders, but the song takes a reductive approach to what’s wrong with the world. Religion isn’t the issue, capitalism is, but I don’t think Lennon cared much about that.
Frankly, to me, the song’s lyrics are like when people say “I don’t see color.” The issue at hand is not fixed by refusing to acknowledge, but rather, working to abolish structural and economic disparities between different groups of people.
If these celebrities want my advice, I’d say they should just share their wealth with the rest of us. Now that’s real activism.