During times of global hardship, there are many wishes of “thoughts and prayers” to those suffering around the world, especially from the A-List community. Gal Gadot, best known for her role as Wonder Woman, recently compiled and released a video of her and many of her Hollywood best friends singing John Lennon’s “Imagine.” Since then, critics on social media have spoken out about their “very out of touch” message of hope. Celebrities from all over joined Gadot in singing “Imagine” verse by verse, which left many uncomfortable, grimacing and angered. From their million-dollar mansions, well-stocked pantries and plentiful toilet paper, celebrities, as much as they may try, are unable to fully understand the general public’s problems.
Let’s start with Gal Gadot’s infamous video. Although it was extremely well-intentioned, it instead came off as condescending and platitudinous. She starts by saying that she has begun to feel philosophical and has since realized that the virus affects everyone no matter what race, religion, or socioeconomic status. After Gadot sings the opening line, “Imagine there’s no heaven,” it cuts to Kristen Wiig and a slew of other celebrities such as Jamie Doran, Will Ferrel, Natalie Portman, Sarah Silverman and Sia. People seemed to view her video as talking down to “regular” people instead of taking action to combat some of the world’s horrifying food and supply shortages through donations from their million-dollar funds.
Some even compared their serenade to that of the extremely misplaced sentiments of, “We Are the World” and “Do They Know It’s Christmas?” These songs were considered to be extremely offensive messages of hope that had no tangible effect of contribution to a world crisis, much like the video Gadot compiled.
In a New York Times Critic’s Notebook piece, writer Jon Caramanica said, “Their genial naïveté is blinding them to the grossest sin here: the smug self-satisfaction, the hubris of the alleged good deed. The presumption that an empty and profoundly awkward gesture from a passel of celebrities has any meaning whatsoever borders on delusion — what you see in this video is nothing more than perspective-fogged stars singing into a mirror.”
The public backlash seen here comes from a similar anger and frustration that many feel when politicians give their ‘thoughts and prayers’ after mass shootings instead of pushing policy forward. Celebrities compiling a video of themselves singing a song simply rubbed people the wrong way, when instead they wanted to see tangible results and actions from the A-Listers who could financially contribute the most. Some celebrities — including Ryan Reynolds and John Mayer — poked fun at the ridiculousness of the video. Mayer hilariously recorded his own serenade over top of Gadot’s video by singing “Imagine” by Ariana Grande, which has a significantly different tone than John Lennon’s rendition. He explained his intention behind the parody was simply to make others laugh in a situation that is currently grave and bleak.
On the other hand, Ryan Reynolds decided to criticize and poke fun at celebrities with a message to his Twitter followers on the importance of getting through it together. In his video, Reynolds said, “I think in times of crisis, I think we all know, it’s the celebrities we count on most. They’re the ones who are going to get us through this. Right after healthcare workers of course. First responders. People who work in essential services. Ping-pong players. Mannequins. They’re great.”
Overall, as much as some choose not to use their resources to help others, there are numerous other celebrities who have taken action to donate money, supplies and even deliver food to those most in need. Many celebrities and influencers have partnered with DoorDash in the #DoYourPartChallenge, in which they pay for the meals of countless families in need of it the most. And even apart from this, sometimes we all just need good laughs and good news to brighten our day. John Krasinski has recently begun a “Some Good News” series on YouTube and has decided to use his platform as a celebrity to compile acts of good deeds and happy times and share them with the world. In a time where everything does seem bleak and indefinite, it’s important to remember and honor those doing good.