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June 15,2020

by Laura Pitcher

Is Influencer and Celebrity Culture Over?

As the current health crisis erupted, so too did the notion that COVID-19 was “a great equalizer.” That was, until, celebrities all over the world started posting from their mansions and influencers escaped to their beachhouses. As thousands died globally and, in many countries, testing kits were in short supply, Wonder Woman star Gal Gadot assured us that “we’re all in this together.” 

As many spent months confined to one-bedroom apartments, Ellen DeGeneres joked that being trapped in one of her many multimillion dollar mansions was “like being in prison.” Not to mention the fact that the inability to social distance in prisons made it “a death sentence” for the incarcerated population. Still, Ryan Reynolds urged fans to “work together to flatten the curve” from within his loft, and celebrities (however well-intentioned) seemed to misunderstand that a pandemic that shined a spotlight on wealth, health, and racial disparities meant we aren’t, in fact, “all in this together.” 

This lack of awareness was also rampant in influencer culture, where lifestyle influencers have built brands of being “aspirational”. Perhaps the greatest example of this is influencer Arielle Charnas, who was able to get a COVID-19 test despite them being unavailable to most Americans suffering from symptoms then, after a positive result, heading to the Hamptons with her family. Then there is the billionaire David Geffen, who posted pictures of his £480m superyacht with the caption “hope everyone is staying safe”. His Instagram has since been deleted. 

While rapid advances in technology in recent decades, and the rise of social media, has brought us “closer” to celebrities than ever before, the pandemic reminded us all that they are not only completely out of reach financially, but also entirely out of touch. The same goes for influencers. In 2018, searches for the phrase “influencer marketing” rose to 61,000, according to Influencer Marketing Hub. That was a 1,500% increase over just three years. Now, with travel limited and fashion seeming trivial, the future of the market is uncertain. 

steve-gale-e7jq0NH9Fbg-unsplash

Simply put, in a world where Black Americans are dying of coronavirus at three times the rate of white people, “aspirational” content from white celebrities and influencers is not only unnecessary, but further reinforcing the capitalist systems that are causing deaths. Lifestyle influencer Emily Oberg was releasing “Sporty and Rich” clothing, and sweatshirts printed with “wellness”, in a time where, arguably more than ever, being wealthy, cisgender, and fitting within eurocentric beauty standards, means staying alive while others die. 

If the pandemic didn’t cement the end of celebrity and influencer culture, many believe the lack of awareness of white public figures throughout the police brutality protests in the US should. Bobo Matjila, host of the Bobo and Flex podcast, Tweeted “In today’s episode of “we’ve progressed past the need for celebrities so just cancel them all” to Kristen Bell releasing a children’s book about “purple people.” In response to the newly released ITakeResponsibility campaign, author and attorney Adrienne Law Tweeted “I encourage each of these actors to hire a team of BIPOC feminists knowledgeable on intersectionality to review and advise them on script choices. No more white savior films, racially tokenized roles, and stereotype perpetuating shenanigans. Take responsibility AND take action.”

ITakeResponsibility

This growing frustration with celebrity culture comes from the core reality that celebrity culture, white supremacy, and capitalism are entirely entwined. “Aspirational” content and people come with the untrue notion that if you work hard and you can achieve whatever you want. It is impossible to dismantle the systems of oppression globally while celebrities and influencers hold their social and financial power. While celebrity, influencer, and billionaire culture is far from being over yet, it should be. Dismantling capitalism and achieving social justice relies on it. As Jean-Jacques Rousseau put it, "When the people shall have nothing more to eat, they will eat the rich".

lea-kobal-xv8WVSrzDuk-unsplash

June 15,2020

by Laura Pitcher

Is Influencer and Celebrity Culture Over?

As the current health crisis erupted, so too did the notion that COVID-19 was “a great equalizer.” That was, until, celebrities all over the world started posting from their mansions and influencers escaped to their beachhouses. As thousands died globally and, in many countries, testing kits were in short supply, Wonder Woman star Gal Gadot assured us that “we’re all in this together.” 

As many spent months confined to one-bedroom apartments, Ellen DeGeneres joked that being trapped in one of her many multimillion dollar mansions was “like being in prison.” Not to mention the fact that the inability to social distance in prisons made it “a death sentence” for the incarcerated population. Still, Ryan Reynolds urged fans to “work together to flatten the curve” from within his loft, and celebrities (however well-intentioned) seemed to misunderstand that a pandemic that shined a spotlight on wealth, health, and racial disparities meant we aren’t, in fact, “all in this together.” 

This lack of awareness was also rampant in influencer culture, where lifestyle influencers have built brands of being “aspirational”. Perhaps the greatest example of this is influencer Arielle Charnas, who was able to get a COVID-19 test despite them being unavailable to most Americans suffering from symptoms then, after a positive result, heading to the Hamptons with her family. Then there is the billionaire David Geffen, who posted pictures of his £480m superyacht with the caption “hope everyone is staying safe”. His Instagram has since been deleted. 

While rapid advances in technology in recent decades, and the rise of social media, has brought us “closer” to celebrities than ever before, the pandemic reminded us all that they are not only completely out of reach financially, but also entirely out of touch. The same goes for influencers. In 2018, searches for the phrase “influencer marketing” rose to 61,000, according to Influencer Marketing Hub. That was a 1,500% increase over just three years. Now, with travel limited and fashion seeming trivial, the future of the market is uncertain. 

steve-gale-e7jq0NH9Fbg-unsplash

Simply put, in a world where Black Americans are dying of coronavirus at three times the rate of white people, “aspirational” content from white celebrities and influencers is not only unnecessary, but further reinforcing the capitalist systems that are causing deaths. Lifestyle influencer Emily Oberg was releasing “Sporty and Rich” clothing, and sweatshirts printed with “wellness”, in a time where, arguably more than ever, being wealthy, cisgender, and fitting within eurocentric beauty standards, means staying alive while others die. 

If the pandemic didn’t cement the end of celebrity and influencer culture, many believe the lack of awareness of white public figures throughout the police brutality protests in the US should. Bobo Matjila, host of the Bobo and Flex podcast, Tweeted “In today’s episode of “we’ve progressed past the need for celebrities so just cancel them all” to Kristen Bell releasing a children’s book about “purple people.” In response to the newly released ITakeResponsibility campaign, author and attorney Adrienne Law Tweeted “I encourage each of these actors to hire a team of BIPOC feminists knowledgeable on intersectionality to review and advise them on script choices. No more white savior films, racially tokenized roles, and stereotype perpetuating shenanigans. Take responsibility AND take action.”

ITakeResponsibility

This growing frustration with celebrity culture comes from the core reality that celebrity culture, white supremacy, and capitalism are entirely entwined. “Aspirational” content and people come with the untrue notion that if you work hard and you can achieve whatever you want. It is impossible to dismantle the systems of oppression globally while celebrities and influencers hold their social and financial power. While celebrity, influencer, and billionaire culture is far from being over yet, it should be. Dismantling capitalism and achieving social justice relies on it. As Jean-Jacques Rousseau put it, "When the people shall have nothing more to eat, they will eat the rich".

lea-kobal-xv8WVSrzDuk-unsplash