Privilege – a tale as old as time. The word used to be associated with land owners and monarchs. When we hear it today, it automatically makes us think of the rich and famous – celebrities. The people who have it all – looks, popularity, the riches, and in the eyes of the working class, happiness.
Celebrities are a part of modern-day American culture – regular people see them as role models, even believing that one person deserves to accumulate such wealth and power. But in the light of the new threat of the corona pandemic, that power hierarchy is being put into question.
There’s news all over the social media of celebrities being tested positive for COVID-19, like Idris Elba, Kevin Durant and Tom Hanks. Some of these celebrities showed no symptoms, but were in contact with infected people. There’s been a few celebrities like Kris Jenner who announced negative test results, after complaining on their social media about not being able to get tested.
Meanwhile, an average American is being denied a test, even if they show clear symptoms. They have been denied on the basis of not having travelled abroad. Some don’t even get a sugar-coated version; they are straight up told there aren’t enough tests for everyone.
This pandemic really highlights the fact that capitalism managed to seep through every aspect of living. This is further displayed with the recent news of US senators selling their stocks back in January, all the while attempting to convince the public that nothing is out of the ordinary.
The issue isn’t in celebrities being tested – they should be getting tested for the safety of the people around them, but it’s not just them that should be getting tested. The problem is that right alongside hearing about Heidi Klum being tested negative for corona, we also hear reports of the utter failure of testing regular people, as well as medical professionals who are the single most exposed group.
Fans of these celebrities are reacting to the news with shock. “Not Forrest Gump!”, “Uncle Idris too, corona has officially gone too far!”. But these responses are to be expected – the general public has always been getting distracted by the higher-ups, news outlets and people that dictate what is important. This is exactly why now is the time to wake up and start realizing the harsh truth –Sure, Uncle Idris and Tom Hanks aren’t directly profiting from the current situation like those 4 US senators, but they are the face of the astounding wealth inequality worldwide.
At the end of the day, these multi-millionaires will be the ones getting the vital resources, not an average person. They WILL be fine – after all, they can afford all the medical care in the world. This is not what our reality in the modern age should look like – if we appropriately divide tests among people who actually need it and not just among the wealthy, it could save an immeasurable amount of lives. If we keep heading the same path, it could potentially lead to global destruction. The collapse of the global economy would alter the lives of everyone, but the working class is going to be the most affected, as always.
Testing is just one aspect of the blinding inequality the entire world is being faced with in this crisis. The working class is massively being laid off due to self-quarantine, while billionaires are worrying about saving money. Researchers and scientists are working day and night to find a cure to save the world, while multi-million-dollar conglomerates are thinking about how to further monetize global suffering. People working minimum wage are essential in this crisis – nurses, cashiers, teachers – they expose themselves for us every single day by going to work, while people from high-paying fields sit comfortably at home and do their work from their laptops. Service workers and gig organizers face bankruptcy, while the top 1% hides in the shadows and plays Monopoly with the global economy.
The people in power care only about their own, about people like themselves. Rich, powerful, influential. We mean nothing to them, and it’s as if they are on a separate plane of existence. We do not have their support, and when the ship sinks, they are going to be the ones on the lifeboats. After we hopefully rise from this situation, we should remember who was there for us, and it was people sinking with us. Everyday people, heroes. We should respect those people risking their lives so that we can collectively stay afloat. Structural change is long overdue, but we will save that for later, after defeating our common enemy. For now, all that we can do is support each other in this hardship that we’re all faced with. We do that by protecting ourselves and others in every little way we can find.