An Anthropological Catalogue of Celebrity Quarantine Antics

Thanks to social media, we know a great deal about famous people’s lives. We know what they like to eat for breakfast and where they keep their shoes. We know what the inside of their homes look like and whether they have good taste in books. We know the kind of voice they use when they talk to their pets and how it differs from the kind of voice they use when they’re recording a front-facing video about their skincare routines. Until recently, one of the few things we didn’t know is how they would react to being cooped up during a global pandemic–but thanks again to social media, we now have an inkling.

Over the past couple of weeks, I have been equal parts alarmed, delighted, confused, and intrigued by the antics of various celebrities. These antics, if I had to guess, are the unmoored sum of feeling a call to provide fodder for entertainment (their profession, after all) in a world where all their previous mechanisms for doing so (talk shows, red carpets, concerts, film sets) have suddenly been removed. Like kids trying to bicycle without training wheels for the first time, they have wobbled along intrepidly, producing content that will surely, mostly go down in history as endearingly unhinged.

In an attempt to catalogue it for posterity, I have tallied up some salient highlights below.

WFH Style, Celebrity Edition

I honestly don’t even remember who I was before I was a person who knew what celebrities’ performative home clothes really looked like. This knowledge has transformed me wholly and completely, leading me to ask myself questions like, Do I need a sparkly rainbow caftan to wear while I draw myself an evening bath? Is now the time to wash my sneakers even though they’re the only shoes I’m actually putting on these days? Should I DM Ellen DeGeneres and ask her if she knows what a #stickofbutter is? I will likely be parsing these queries for weeks to come, but in the meantime, it’s mildly comforting that even famous people’s brains turn into peach purée when confronted with the aim of feeling comfortable and looking presentable at the same time.

Your syllabus:

January Jones wearing a sparkly rainbow caftan and a T-shirt tucked into sweatpants

Mindy Kaling wearing “Google Hangout couture” (a.k.a. professional on top, pajamas on the bottom)

Ellen DeGeneres wearing a yellow sweatsuit

Christopher Meloni wearing a “quarantine kilt”

Cardi B’s impressively long electric blue fingernails

Sam Neill’s freshly washed sneakers

John Legend and Chrissy Teigen in bathleisure

Music to My Ears (Sometimes)

I imagine the requisite 6,000-word think pieces about Gal Godot’s “Imagine” compilation are already in the process of being written, so I won’t delve too deeply into those waters except to say that no matter how you feel about the video itself, do you agree with my hypothesis that celebrities on social media during quarantine are gradually inching close to a 21st-century equivalent of medieval bards?!? No elaborate sound systems or stages, just a bunch of entertainers armed with nothing but their voices and maybe the occasional piano or guitar, making music (generous in some cases, I know) that captures–for better or for worse–this particular moment in time. Am I onto something, or was it a bad idea for me to start the first Game of Thrones book last week?

Your syllabus:

Anthony Hopkins serenading his cat Niblo, who apparently demanded it

John Legend, Chrissy Teigen, and occasionally Luna serenading the internet

JoJo sharing a new version of ‘Leave (Get Out),’ fittingly titled ‘Chill (Stay In)’

Neil Diamond remixing ‘Sweet Caroline’ (“hands… washing hands”)

Madonna tweaking the lyrics to ‘Vogue’

Gal Godot and her celebrity friends singing verses from “Imagine”

Rita Wilson rapping “Hip Hop Hooray”

Choose Your Own A-List Adventure

If, centuries from now, scholars are studying the year 2020, I would like them to know there are certain pieces of celebrity content that are not easy to unpack, but that is precisely why they were (are) so important. I couldn’t even begin to explain why Cardi B decided to run head-first into a tower of Jenga blocks, or why Martha Stewart needs 23 different kinds of copper pots, and yet I do feel enriched in addition to confused.

Your syllabus:

Cardi B running into a Jenga block tower

Elizabeth Banks cheers’ing with paloma cocktail

Kelly Clarkson admitting she had to use her toddler’s toilet

Gabby Sidibe letting her cat choose what to watch on Netflix

Lizzo’s meditation and mantra

Madonna in the bath

Martha Stewart with all her pots

So tell me, what are your thoughts on the truly bananas celebrity content that has rained like popcorn dust from the heavens over the past couple of weeks? The good, the bad, the ugly–let’s hear it.

Graphics by Lorenza Centi.

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Harling Ross

Harling is a writer and was most recently the Brand Director at Man Repeller.

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