No One Left to Stan?

Unless you live under a literal rock, you’ve witnessed the world tilt on its axis in a matter of months.

COVID-19 seized the globe and shook it hard. The pandemic has destroyed lives and economies, and has deeply rattled our collective consciousness.

We now face minor inconveniences, like gym closures and vacation cancellations, alongside catastrophes like mass job layoffs and horrific death counts. The realigning of the globe seems a distant dream.

The cherry on top? No one, it seems, knows what the hell to do... or, wait, do they?

CELEBRITIES! Celebrities, the new and highly-qualified public health experts know exactly how to handle this unprecedented crisis.

Gazillions of social media users are now subjected to saccharine pretenses of false modesty and preachy bullsh*t from people whose livelihoods — get this — depend on playing literal superheroes in the movies!

With the sole exception, it seems, of Johns Mayer and Krasinski, the circle of hell better known as Hollywood spent March gracing live streams with plasticky faces to assure us, the devoted proletariat, that the best thing to do right now is to cozy up in a 8.5 million dollar Calabasas pad and putz around in a gauche sweatsuit. Stay inside — they, too, are foregoing the private jets and Nobu dinners. Oh, the sacrifice! Let’s hear it for the martyrs!

Oi. Are these celebrities bad people, necessarily?

No!

Do they offer anything productive or helpful to an already-muddled conversation?

Zippo.

We, too, can parrot network news talking heads and remind our Instagram followers, “stay home!” It’s almost an ego boost, you know, to imagine our eight-second stories have convinced less-educated followers to abide by the rules. (But at least we play Health Hero whilst stirring a homemade soup in a ratty t-shirt. Our frustrations towards the rule-breakers are valid — the longer we refuse to ~social distance~ ourselves, the longer it will be until lives, economies, and our collective consciousness begin to look recognizable. So, if you’re easing your anxieties by role-playing CDC Spokesperson, it’s understandable. This stuff is scary!)

But back to Hollywood — why do we find these people so irritating?

We don’t want to hear their advice because they live in a world already devoid of normalcy: one without mortgage worries, without grocery budgets, without limited broadband Internet. If Hollywood needs to get away from the screaming sibling, overbearing parent, or coughing great-uncle, Hollywood goes into the downstairs sauna, the second kitchen, the fifth acre of manicured lawn, for a little break. They’re not relatable, they’re not pitiable, they’re just annoying as sh*t.

Last week, I spent (too many) hours gleefully scrolling Twitter, and broke out the popcorn to watch the general public lacerate the very people we used to “stan.” Between the disastrous “Imagine” mashup, the crossfaded rants of ex-Disney stars, and the cuss-littered captions of holed-up pop stars with long ponytails, the elites are doing a number on themselves and their respective public images. Fanbases are recoiling in secondhand embarrassment. Suddenly, these spray-tanned, spoiled people are intolerable.

Yet just months ago, we worshipped them.

“Stan,” or in its progressive form, “stanning,” is the trash term used to describe obsessed support for a celebrity. We “stan” the queens for taking a brave stance on a social justice issues (this type of move, as anyone who’s spent two weeks in a PR office can tell you, is a calculated measure meant to elicit your exact, teary-eyed reaction) or for not wearing a bra (who cares?) or for eviscerating a bot-like hater on Celebrities Read Mean Tweets. *golf clap*

Apparently, the bar is set pretty low for hot multi-millionaires. But finally, it seems, we’re realizing the ridiculousness of cultishly following a singer/actress/point guard to the precipice of meaninglessness. We’re ready to turn back, to reclaim our intelligence and sanity. We may even be ready to give ’em a little shove. :)

If we can’t “stan” the stars, then, to whom do we look? Where are the role models, the heroes, the ones we should root for?

We may not have to look very far.

Just as we continue to celebrate and appreciate our fantastic army of healthcare workers — doctors, nurses, scribes, technicians, social workers, chaplains, and the like — it’s time for new group of people to step into the limelight, to have their names etched on a better sort of Walk of Fame. The Walmart clerks, the UPS people, the food couriers, the sanitation teams. The fry cooks, the gas station attendants, and the millions of other individuals whose work weaves tight the fabric of functional society.

They’ve done a hell of a lot more for us this month than anyone on Mulholland Drive. In fact, they’ve done a hell of a lot more for society all along. For years, often thanklessly, they’ve been superheroes the Marvel franchise could only dream of, sans tights and CGI.

Let’s stan them as such.

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