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Covid-19 has revealed celebrity culture’s links with capitalism and transformed it forever

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When universities closed in March due to Covid-19, and my celebrity course transitioned online, I was no longer able to share informal chats and insights about celebrity news and gossip with my students. Recently, I’ve noticed a change in celebrity culture. Like capitalism, it has pivoted. The change speaks to how intertwined celebrity culture is to capitalism.

Richard Dyer, the well-known English film studies professor, argued more than 30 years ago that celebrity culture is a kind of “triumphant individualism”, ideologically bound up with the condition of capitalism. He said society’s hyper focus on celebrities as transcendent beings who exceed, go beyond and surpass what ordinary people appear able to do, parallels the western culture belief that free-market capitalism enables all individuals to achieve their greatest potential.

As Guardian columnist Arwa Mahdawi recently noted, both capitalism and celebrity rely on the “lie of meritocracy”: that working hard will lead to ultimate success. The grips of Covid-19, with its fallout of the millions who have lost their jobs and the thousands who have lost their lives, has shined light on the tenuous nature of the meritocracy myth.

Now that we know what essential work is, it seems the perfect time to reflect upon the not-so-essential work of celebrities.

‘Shit is gettin’ real’

On March 10, Cardi B posted a 46-second video to Instagram: “Coronavirus! Coronavirus! I’m telling you, shit is real! Shit is gettin’ real!” Within a week, DJ Snake released a YouTube video remix of Cardi B’s rant and DJ iMarkkeyz, known for turning memes into music, also remixed Cardi’s “vocal.”

According to the New York Times, “Coronavirus Remix” has been steadily rising on download charts worldwide.

On March 11, actor Tom Hanks and his wife, actress Rita Wilson, announced that they had been diagnosed with coronavirus, and as Cardi B predicted, shit got real. Following their positive test, and that of NBA player, Donovan Mitchell of the Utah Jazz, all major league sports were shut down. Film and TV sets closed. Within a few days, celebrities transitioned online.

Talk shows

Daytime talk shows, such as The View and Ellen have continued with scaled-down virtual versions. Late-night shows have followed suit. Conan O’Brien uses an iPhone and Skype to keep his cable show going from his home. NBC’s Jimmy Fallon creates 10-minute “At Home” segments for NBC’s Tonight. Stephen Colbert produces 10-minute clips for CBS from his bathtub, and Jimmy Kimmel also performs monologues from his home.

‘The Tonight Show: At Home Edition’

Recently, when Fallon appeared as a virtual guest on SiriusXM’s The Howard Stern Show to talk about his “At Home” episodes, he recalled how, after September 11, 2001, he turned to then talk show host David Letterman for guidance. Remembering Letterman’s words – “pretending to be courageous is just as good as the real thing” – motivated Fallon to air his pandemic-era, YouTube-distributed segments.

The show must go on

This idea of keeping the masses entertained, and distracted, is rooted in the 19th-century circus. If an animal or performer were injured, the ringmaster and the band would try to keep things going so that the crowd would not panic or leave. Since then, show business has been defined by this mantra – singers gotta sing, dancers gotta dance, the masses must be entertained.

This is especially true in the theatre. Andrew Lloyd Webber teamed up with Universal Studios in a series called, “The Shows Must Go On” to offer free viewing of his musicals on YouTube in the social distancing era.

We consume celebrity culture to take our minds off our everyday lives and in some cases, it is a primary source of social bonding. We form para-social relationships with celebrities; that is, one-sided relationships where we extend emotional energy, interest and time, and the celebrity doesn’t even know we exist.

This process builds second-order intimacy constructed through the mass media rather than direct experience. In other words, while we don’t know a celebrity personally, based on consuming their work, watching them on talk shows and maybe even indulging in a gossip magazine, we feel like we know them.

How sincere are they?

The physical distancing brought on by this pandemic has made it overtly obvious how deep the desire is on the part of some celebrities to manufacture para-social behaviour and to create levels of intimacy with us – the people they need to maintain their star power.

Elton John’s iHeart Living Room Concert for America, Kevin Bacon’s #IStayHomeFor Twitter challenge, and Arnold Schwarzenegger’s urges – from his California mansion – for people to stay home are all examples of celebrity public service announcements becoming the new “gossip” content.

Celebrity gossip has become an industry onto itself over the last 30 years thanks to outlets like TMZ. As we’ve been taken behind the curtain, not only do we feel like we know celebrities, they, in turn, treat the public like we are their real friends. The problem is, we’re not.

Larry David, Samuel L Jackson and former Jersey Shore reality star Mike Sorrentino have lent their voices to PSAs. Many other celebrities, like Rihanna, have responded with charitable donations worth millions of dollars.

These celebrity announcements – along with the new glimpses into their private homes – has raised a lot of questions about their level of privilege and sincerity.

This came up most notably when David Geffen posted a pic on Instagram from his giant yacht with the caption, “Sunset last night … isolated in the Grenadines avoiding the virus.” Surely his post did little to comfort those in housing precarity right now.

Similarly, celebrity chef Bobby Flay who has a reported net worth of $30 million, set up a GoFundMe campaign to raise $100,000 to pay his restaurant employees who are currently not working due to the coronavirus. Couldn’t he use some of his millions to help them out?

Ultimately, some celebrity moments during the pandemic have felt genuine, while others have been downright bizarre.

James Corden wraps up #HomeFest with some words on the range of emotions he’s felt while in quarantine. He presented Ben Platt and cast of ‘Dear Evan Hansen’ performing ‘You Will Be Found.’

Similarly, some music mashups have worked – like Tyler Perry teaming up with Jennifer Hudson, and others to sing He’s Got The Whole World In His Hands and Canadian R&B divas Tamia and Deborah Cox’s cover of Whitney Houston/CeCe Winan’s Count on Me.

But others, like the star-studded singalong led by Wonder Woman star Gal Gadot have missed the mark. As Buzzfeed’s Michael Blackmon lamented: the singalong failed to invoke a “digital kumbaya for our pandemic-stricken world.”

Changed forever?

It is difficult to predict how celebrity culture, like capitalism, might change, but one’s thing is certain: dwindling content is inevitable. According to Forbes, while Netflix is not running into the same content problem as the networks because its series are made all at once for binge-release, both streaming services and the networks could eventually run out of produced content in the coming weeks.

Thus, celebrities might have been essential to our media culture before the pandemic, but after we get through this, they may not be.

Or, it could become, as was the case after the Second World War, when Hollywood created an entire genre of cinema – the war movie – that is still thriving nearly 70 years later, and musicians responded with songs that we still remember today, the coronavirus could become the content we consume years from now.

Cheryl Thompson, Assistant Professor, Creative Industries, Ryerson University.

This article first appeared on The Conversation.



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Celebrities feel the pinch of summer heat as now Arshad Warsi tweets receiving electricity bill of Rs 1 lakh: Kidneys I’m keeping for next bill, Entertainment News

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As we continue to quarantine amid the widespread of the novel coronavirus in the world, almost all of us who live in tropical countries can feel the pain of enormous electricity bills during the summer heat. 

But it’s not just average people like us who can feel the pinch as the celebrities too have been sharing their enormous bills with their fans and followers. Recently, Bollywood actor Arshad Warsi took to social media complaining about receiving an exorbitant electricity bill but later shared that his problem has been solved. 

In a tweet, Arshad shared that he received a bill recently of Rs 1,03,564 and that his account was debited with this sum on July 5 for the bill. He then shared a news article about his paintings and asked everyone to buy it.

He had tweeted: “People please buy my paintings, I need to pay my Adani electric bill, kidneys am keeping for the next bill.”

Later on Sunday, Arshad shared that he got a quick response from the electricity company and that his problem was solved. He further wrote, “And yes there is a light at the end of the tunnel. Quick response from @Adani_Elec_Mum problem solved. All you have to do is contact them…. thank you.”

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Other celebs like Taapsee Pannu, Renuka Shahane, Huma Qureshi, Nimrat Kaur, Soha Ali Khan, Amyra Dastur, Dino Morea, and Kamya Punjab among many others have alleged receiving an inflated electricity bill for the month of June.

 



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Celebrity birthdays for the week of July 12-18

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Celebrity birthdays for the week of July 12-18

July 12: Actor-comedian Bill Cosby is 83. Singer Christine McVie of Fleetwood Mac is 77. Actress Denise Nicholas (“In the Heat of the Night”) is 76. Singer Walter Egan is 72. Fitness guru Richard Simmons is 72. Actress Cheryl Ladd (“Charlie’s Angels”) is 69. Singer Ricky McKinnie of The Blind Boys of Alabama is 68. Actress Mel Harris (“thirtysomething”) is 64. Gospel singer Sandi Patty is 64. Guitarist Dan Murphy of Soul Asylum is 58. Actress Judi Evans (“Days of Our Lives”) is 56. Singer Robin Wilson of the Gin Blossoms is 55. Actress Natalie Desselle Reid (Film’s “Madea’s Big Happy Family,” TV’s “Eve”) is 53. Actress Lisa Nicole Carson (“Ally McBeal”) is 51. Country singer Shannon Lawson is 47. Rapper Magoo is 47. Actress Anna Friel (“Pushing Daisies”) is 44. Singer Tracie Spencer is 44. Actress Alison Wright (“The Americans”) is 44. Actor Steve Howey (“Reba”) is 43. Actor Topher Grace (“That ’70s Show”) is 42. Actress Michelle Rodriguez (“The Fast and The Furious” films, “Lost”) is 42. Actor Kristen Connolly (“Zoo”) is 40. Singer-guitarist Kimberly Perry of The Band Perry is 37. Actor Matt Cook (“Man with a Plan”) is 36. Actress Natalie Martinez (“Under the Dome”) is 36. Actress Ta’Rhonda Jones (“Empire”) is 32. Actress Melissa O’Neill (“The Rookie”) is 32. Actress Rachel Brosnahan (“The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel,” ?House of Cards”) is 30. Actor Erik Per Sullivan (“Malcolm in the Middle”) is 29.

July 13: Actor Patrick Stewart is 80. Singer-guitarist Roger McGuinn of The Byrds is 78. Actor Harrison Ford is 78. Actor-comedian Cheech Marin is 74. Actress Daphne Maxwell Reid (“Eve,” ?The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air”) is 72. Actress Didi Conn is 69. Actor Gil Birmingham (“Twilight” films) is 67. Country singer Louise Mandrell is 66. Bassist Mark “The Animal” Mendoza of Twisted Sister is 64. Actor-director Cameron Crowe is 63. Actor Michael Jace (“The Shield”) is 58. Comedian Tom Kenny (“Spongebob Squarepants”) is 58. Country singer-songwriter Victoria Shaw is 58. Bluegrass singer Rhonda Vincent is 58. Country singer Neil Thrasher (Thrasher Shriver) is 55. Actor Ken Jeong (“Dr. Ken,” ?Community”) is 51. Singer Deborah Cox is 47. Drummer Will Champion of Coldplay is 42. Actor Steven R. McQueen (“The Vampire Diaries”) is 32. Singer Leon Bridges is 31. Actress Hayley Erin (“General Hospital”) is 26. Actor Kyle Harrison Breitkopf (“The Whispers”) is 15.

July 14: Actress Nancy Olson (“Sunset Boulevard”) is 92. Football player-turned-actor Rosey Grier is 88. Actor Vincent Pastore (“The Sopranos”) is 74. Bassist Chris Cross of Ultravox is 68. Actor Jerry Houser (“Summer of ’42?) is 68. Actor Eric Laneuville (“St. Elsewhere”) is 68. Actor Stan Shaw (“Harlem Nights”) is 68. Singer-comedian Kyle Gass of Tenacious D is 60. Actress Jane Lynch is 60. Actor Jackie Earle Haley is 59. Actor Matthew Fox (“Lost,” ?Party of Five”) is 54. Keyboardist Ellen Reid of Crash Test Dummies is 54. Singer-guitarist Tanya Donelly of Belly is 54. Actress Missy Gold (“Benson”) is 50. Singer Tameka Cottle of Xscape is 45. Country singer Jamey Johnson is 45. Musician taboo of Black Eyed Peas is 45. Actor Scott Porter (“Friday Night Lights”) is 41. Actress Phoebe Waller-Bridge (“Fleabag”) is 35. Singer Dan Smith of Bastille is 34. Actress Sara Canning (“The Vampire Diaries”) is 33. Singer Dan Reynolds of Imagine Dragons is 33.

July 15: Actor Patrick Wayne is 81. Singer Millie Jackson is 76. Guitarist-singer Peter Lewis of Moby Grape is 75. Singer Linda Ronstadt is 74. Drummer Artimus Pyle (Lynyrd Skynyrd) is 72. Actor Terry O’Quinn (“Lost,” ?West Wing,” ?Alias”) is 68. Singer-guitarist David Pack (Ambrosia) is 68. Drummer Marky Ramone (The Ramones) is 68. Guitarist Joe Satriani is 64. Country songwriter Mac McAnally is 63. Actor Willie Aames (“Eight Is Enough,” ?Charles In Charge”) is 60. Model Kim Alexis is 60. Actress Lolita Davidovich is 59. Actor-director Forest Whitaker is 59. Actress Shari Headley is 57. Actress Brigitte Nielsen is 57. Drummer Jason Bonham is 54. Actress Amanda Foreman (“Parenthood,” ?Felicity”) is 54. Singer Stokley of Mint Condition is 53. Actor-comedian Eddie Griffin (“Malcolm and Eddie”) is 52. Actor Reggie Hayes (“Girlfriends”) is 51. Actor Jim Rash (“Community”) is 49. Drummer John Dolmayan of System of a Down and of Scars on Broadway is 48. Actor Scott Foley (“Scandal,” ?Felicity”) is 48. Actor Brian Austin Green (“Beverly Hills 90210”) is 47. Rapper Jim Jones is 44. Actress Diane Kruger (“National Treasure,” “Troy”) is 44. Actress Lana Parrilla (“Once Upon A Time,” ?Swingtown”) is 43. Guitarist Ray Toro of My Chemical Romance is 43. Actress Laura Benanti (“Law and Order: SVU”) is 41. Singer Kia Thornton of Divine is 41. Actor Taylor Kinney (“Chicago Fire”) is 39. Actor Tristan “Mack” Wilds (“90210?) is 31. Actor Iain Armitage (“Big Little Lies,” “Young Sheldon”) is 12.

July 16: Singer William Bell is 81. Actor-singer Ruben Blades is 72. Drummer Stewart Copeland of The Police is 68. Actress Faye Grant (“Affairs of State”) is 63. Dancer Michael Flatley (“Lord of the Dance”) is 62. Actress Phoebe Cates is 57. Actor Paul Hipp is 57. Actor Daryl “Chill” Mitchell (“Ed”) is 55. Actor Jonathan Adams (“Last Man Standing”) is 53. Actor Will Ferrell is 53. Actress Rain Pryor (“Head of the Class”) is 51. Actor Corey Feldman is 49. Singer-guitarist Ed Kowalczyk (Live (LYV)) is 49. Singer Ryan McCombs (Drowning Pool) is 46. Actress Jayma Mays (“The Millers,” ?Glee”) is 41. Actress AnnaLynne McCord (“Nip/Tuck”) is 33. Actor-singer James Maslow (“Big Time Rush”) is 30. Actor Mark Indelicato (“Ugly Betty”) is 26. Singer-guitarist Luke Hemmings of 5 Seconds of Summer is 24.

July 17: Actor Donald Sutherland is 85. Guitarist Spencer Davis of the Spencer Davis Group is 81. Bassist Geezer Butler of Black Sabbath is 71. Actress Lucie Arnaz is 69. Actor David Hasselhoff is 68. Bassist Fran Smith Jr. of The Hooters is 68. TV producer Mark Burnett (“Survivor,” “The Apprentice”) is 60. Actress Nancy Giles (“China Beach”) is 60. Singer Regina Belle is 57. Country singer Craig Morgan is 56. Bassist Lou Barlow (Dinosaur Jr., Sebadoh, Folk Implosion) is 54. Contemporary Christian singer Susan Ashton is 53. Actor Andre Royo (“The Wire”) is 52. Actress Bitty Schram (“Monk”) is 52. Actor Jason Clarke (“Zero Dark Thirty,” ?Dawn of the Planet of the Apes”) is 51. Director F. Gary Gray (“Straight Outta Compton,” “Furious 8?) is 51. Singer JC of PM Dawn is 49. Rapper Sole’ is 47. Country singer Luke Bryan is 44. Actor Eric Winter (“Harold and Kumar Escape from Guantanamo Bay”) is 44. Actor Mike Vogel (“Under the Dome,” ?The Help”) is 41. Actor Tom Cullen (“Downton Abbey”) is 35. Actor Brando Eaton (“Dexter”) is 34 Singer Jeremih is 33. Actress Billie Lourd (“Scream Queens”) is 28.

July 18: Director Paul Verhoeven (“Basic Instinct,” ?Showgirls”) is 82. Singer Brian Auger is 81. Singer Dion is 81. Actor James Brolin is 80. Singer Martha Reeves of Martha and the Vandals is 79. Guitarist Wally Bryson of The Raspberries is 71. Actress Margo Martindale (“Sneaky Pete,” “The Americans”) is 69. Bluegrass singer Ricky Skaggs is 66. Actress Audrey Landers (“Dallas”) is 64. Drummer Nigel Twist of The Alarm is 63. Actress Anne-Marie Johnson (“That’s So Raven,” “In The Heat of the Night”) is 60. Actress Elizabeth McGovern (“Downton Abbey”) is 59. Keyboardist John Hermann of Widespread Panic is 58. Talk show host/actress Wendy Williams is 56. Actor Vin Diesel is 53. Actor Grant Bowler (“True Blood,” ?Ugly Betty”) is 52. Actor Eddie Matos (“All My Children”) is 48. Rapper M.I.A. is 45. Guitarist Daron Malakian of System of a Down and of Scars On Broadway is 45. Actress Elsa Pataky (“The Fast and the Furious” films) is 44. Drummer Tony Fagenson (Eve 6) is 42. Actress Kristen Bell is 40. Actor Michiel Huisman (“Game of Thrones”) is 39. Singer Ryan Cabrera is 38. Actress Priyanka Chopra (“Quantico”) is 38. Drummer Aaron Gillespie of Underoath is 37. Actor Chace Crawford (“Gossip Girl”) is 35. Bassist Paul Kowert of Punch Brothers is 34. Guitarist Joe Dean Junior (Dailey and Vincent) is 31.

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5 Washington celebrity fans who could potentially vie for minority ownership

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Another day, another surprising development in the Washington Redskins seemingly likely quest to no longer be known as the Washington Redskins.

News broke on Sunday night that three minority owners with Washington were looking to sell their shares of the team after becoming fed up and tired of being partners with Dan Snyder, the owner of the team. These three — Robert Rothman, Dwight Schar and Frederick W. Smith — own approximately 40% of the team, with the rest being held by either Snyder, his mother, or his sister.

So if that stake in the team is to be on the market, and worth up to well over a billion dollars, where would Snyder look for new owners going forward? Luckily for Washington, there is a solid history of popular and wealthy fans who have a bone-deep love for the Burgundy and Gold, carrying a #HTTR passion with them always. Here are a few celebrities who could pop up as potential partners down the road.

 

Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

Durant is a D.C. native and a big fan of the Redskins, still proclaiming his love to this day. Remember when Stephen Curry almost became a minority owner of the Carolina Panthers? Durant could do that with Washington.

Photo by Patrick McDermott/Getty Images

Maybe the biggest celebrity Washington fan there is, Matthew McConaughey has been propping up the Burgundy & Gold as much as anyone one individual can over the past few years, and he’s closely involved with the team as well. He sat down for an exclusive interview with the hosts of Washington’s Virtual Draft Party earlier in 2020 and expressed his excitement for the future of the team, and we’ve seen him take on a role as the ‘Minister of Culture’ at the University of Texas. Why not do the same in Washington?

AP Photo/Nick Wass

Dale Earnhardt Jr. has been a life-long Washington fan as well, and his relationship both with the team and with team owner Dan Snyder could make him a great fit to take on a bigger role as a minority owner. He likely has the funding, thanks to his NASCAR winnings, and he could be looking for a new chapter in his sporting career.

Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images

If there is anyone who knows the heartbeat of the D.C. sports world, it’s Wale. Mr. Folarin remains a big-time music star who often delves into sports, and his work with Washington this offseason with the Virtual Draft Party has not gone unnoticed. He is obviously connected with the team, and a bigger relationship would make sense.

Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images

Scott Van Pelt is maybe the least likely celebrity to come on as a minority owner because of his place in the sports media world, and getting in on part of a team might cry out bias. However, this Maryland native has been big on the team for his whole life, and he is in the process of moving is ESPN show from Connecticut back home to the DMV, where he will conduct things going forward. What better time for a reunion?



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