Even before the days of coronavirus, social distancing and curbside service, social observers were predicting and lamenting how the concept of the traditional “movie star” was on the verge of being obsolete.
Since the emergence of the Internet and social media, the superstardom of past icons like Judy Garland, Humphrey Bogart, Marilyn Monroe and Paul Newman, which was all about mystique because of the relative barrier from the fans off camera, has been slowly waning. With services like Facebook, Instagram and Twitter, we can now see the everyday lives of stars like Chris Pratt, Florence Pugh, Ansel Elgort and Ana de Armas as they personally post and respond to fans in real time.
The result is a disconnect because the general public gradually stops viewing the celebrity as a star and more as someone like themselves. This can work to the actor, model, or artist’s advantage, though. “Instagram models” have become a thing, and there are even instances where actors’ social media followers influence their casting. So it’s actually impressive and refreshing when a professional like Jennifer Lawrence, Rooney Mara or Alicia Vikander can achieve the same level of success without an online presence.
Now with concerts, music tours, film and TV productions, press tours, premieres and award ceremonies on hold indefinitely, time has proven celebrities really are just like us and are going stir crazy in lockdown and post-lockdown. Whether it be from boredom or lack of attention, the insubstantial aspect of pop culture and stardom has become more apparent than ever before.
Not only are celebrities continuing to pose for paparazzi on the streets and posting more than ever before, they’re even going on expensive, tone-deaf vacations in the middle of a pandemic. Meanwhile, ordinary people are either ill with the virus, recently unemployed, or both. It’s just not a good look and comes off obtuse, even if it is a desperate attempt to remain relevant while out of work.
I’ve never followed any of my favorite movie stars or music artists on social media because I prefer having that layer of mystery. I’m more interested in their art than their real lives. Which makes it fortunate that some of my favorite modern actors are Saoirse Ronan, Adam Driver, Domhnall Gleeson and Ryan Gosling. Those five have never been on social media and are never near the paparazzi.
I couldn’t tell you where they have been, or what they’ve been doing for the past five months while show business is MIA. And they’re better for it.
Megan Bianco is a Southern California-based movie reviewer and content writer with a degree from California State University Northridge.