Crash Course for Famous People

Reading the Room 101: A Crash Course for Famous People

By Emily Knepple

Global pandemic? What better way to appeal to the masses than with an Instagram live, or a majorly tone-deaf video of people singing “Imagine” whose net worth could probably pay for you and I’s (out-of-state) tuition, combined

Look, I’m the first one to admit that I gladly follow a long-list of A-list, B-list and even C-list celebs and genuinely get lost in their profiles. I had posters of singers taped up on the walls of my childhood bedroom and I spent actual money to see them. I get the appeal, celebrities are fun, they offer fantasy, a small glimpse into what life could actually be if you woke up with enough talent to get you noticed or knew someone at the top. 

                                                     @Kofromatatf (Twitter)

   Going on Instagram these days seems like an instant invitation to over 20+ celeb lives. 

I get it, okay? I’m not “anti-celeb” for the most part. But, when it comes to something that impacts everyone, gets in the way of our and their daily lives, I wonder just how talented they are at empathy. 

If it’s not Ellen DeGeneres coming at us live from one of her larger-than-life rooms telling us to keep the faith, it’s Kylie Jenner posting about how this is driving her crazy and she misses simpler times when she could go on a $3 million vacation with her sisters. 

With over 17 million Americans filing for unemployment over the past four weeks, I’m not sure if stars are facing similar challenges. Their roles on the big screen will be there when this is over. For us, the future of our jobs in places like retail, the food industry and more remain up in the air. 

Famous people have failed to learn how to read the room. The first time we really saw someone openly ignoring the plight this pandemic brings on so many was the infamous yacht photo. That’s right, someone actually wished everyone well from their $5 million yacht, where they were quarantined. 

               Billionaire David Geffen sent the world good wishes off his yacht early in the COVID-19 chaos. 

Jennifer Lopez really took the time to show us how her family is coping and yes, it did include one of her sons on a hoverboard, in her expansive backyard. Jeremy Renner, best known for his role of Hawk-Eye in The Avengers, really thought now was the best time to kick-start his music career with a single titled “Medecine.” YEP, he really had people telling him that that was a good idea, he really got the go-ahead. 

I’m sorry but I  know I’m not alone in the frustration right now. As much as I love seeing people like Chrissy Teigen on my timeline, I don’t necessarily know if we’re on an even playing field. 

So, I guess that leaves us with nothing else to do but teach. I’ve compiled a list of  the five biggest to-dos for celebrities that missed the ball on understanding the difference between us and them. 

  1. Don’t EQUATE: There’s no hiding that we lead different lives, that your backyard could easily be the size of my house. Instead of trying to be one of us, acknowledge that you aren’t and recognize your privilege. Madonna called the virus the “great equalizer” from a bathtub of rose petals while I’m trying to schedule my showers with my family so we can all use some hot water. 
  2. Go easy on the Lives: Look, I see the appeal of musicians streaming shows and honestly think that’s a great way to keep people engaged. However, if your live is just you and another celebrity talking back and forth about how you’re coping, or just yourself documenting daily life, maybe recognize they’re a bit overdone and if you need someone to talk to, call your friends like the rest of us. 
  3. Pleas for Money: Look, charity is great and it does a lot of good things for those that need it. However, when I see celebs post links to places we should donate, my gut instinct is to say: Well, have you? Not that it’s my business and it’s likely they have, but just forcing charity’s down the links of your followers can be a bit much. 
  4. You’re not a Scientist: Look, we’re all on the same boat here when it comes to how much we know. Leave the science part to scientists. Stop offering your suggestions on when this could be over. And for the love of God, please avoid doing anything close to what Vanessa Hudgens did a few weeks ago and go on some sort of rant about the ridiculousness of serious measures. 
  5. READ THE ROOM: Last and most importantly, please read the room. I know social media might be a way to cope, or your means of maintaining a following both on and off the screen. But, recognize that people’s timelines are overflowing with bad news. Trying to add to that with a complaint about how your significant other is starting to drive you crazy or how you don’t know what day it is and your losing mind can often reek of a lack of empathy. Now might not be the best time to launch a new press campaign, just a thought. 

Not to say this applies to all famous people. I’ve seen some good things come out of this. Like John Krasinski’s Good News weekly show that brings people together and steers away from the general narrative. Artists that have gone forward with their album releases also provide solace for me. New music is fun and if you’re able to share it without trying to evoke copious amounts of sympathy, gold star. 

I think there’s a time and a place for everything. Obviously, celebrities are deeply ingrained into our culture. And honestly, it’s such an ambiguous term that it no longer applies to just movie stars and singers. They’re people, too. I think this virus can definitely impact them, whether it’s consequence can be as serious as it is for us common folk, which I think is what puts them at fault. When they start to act as if the implications are the same is where I begin to feel frustrated. 

But, feelings are feelings and as people, we try to validate them, even when they belong to  people who have salaries with a numbers of digits I will never see in my life. So, at the end of the day, all we can ask of our highest-profile friends is to just please, read the room.