If there is anything helping us cope with the 2019 coronavirus pandemic, it’s memes.
COVID-19 (otherwise known as the 2019 coronavirus) has become inescapable since being declared a pandemic by the World Health Organization earlier this month. The latest strain of coronavirus was first reported in December last year in Wuhan, China, after the city’s government confirmed that health authorities were treating a handful of cases. Since then, the coronavirus has made its way throughout the world; the United States has now surpassed China and Italy in reported deaths from the virus. It’s not just the virus. There are other problems: firings and layoffs; shortages at food markets; a lack of supplies and personal protective equipment (PPE) for health service workers, and much, much more.
As the virus continues to be reported on each and every day, it’s hard to quell our anxiety about it, especially when taking into account that the president of this nation not only initially referred to this virus as a “hoax,” but reportedly blocked testing for it in January to aid his reelection chances. But if there has been anything to help provide an escape from the hopelessness many of us feel during a time like this, it’s memes.
And I don’t just mean the typical funny memes that are often circulated, but other viral moments that have been reassuring or uplifting in relation to the coronavirus pandemic. For example, the dismantling of celebrity culture. The cult of celebrity is unraveling at the moment, as is evident to the backlash some have faced amid this pandemic. It’s difficult to not feel as if celebrities are being patronizing to us as they try to be reassuring from the comfort of their noticeably gaudy homes. But there are two notable moments in particular where celebrities have faced backlash for seeming to be completely unaware of themselves as a rich person.
The first was Gal Gadot and a handful of other celebrities (Zoe Kravitz, Will Farrell, Mark Ruffalo) coming together to do an isolated cover of John Lennon’s “Imagine.” Despite the video’s intent, it faced plenty of backlash, with many social media users calling it tone-deaf.
“Hey celebs, we don’t want to be sung to,” Bustle film writer Casey Cipriani tweeted. “We want you to use a million or two of your money and order ventilators, masks, and gloves from the manufacturers then donate them to a hospital. Or pay for the salaries of an entire staff at a bar, restaurant, or daycare.”
Hey celebs, we don't want to be sung to. We want you to use a million or two of your money and order ventilators, masks, and gloves from the manufacturers then donate them to a hospital. Or pay for the salaries of an entire staff at a bar, restaurant, or daycare. #imagine
— Casey Cipriani (@CaseyCip) March 19, 2020
Even Zack Fox parodied the video, enlisting fellow comedian Eric Andre and Quinta Brunson, as well as other friends like Thundercat, to offer a somber rendition of the Three 6 Mafia classic “Slob On My Knob.”
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Second was a GoFundMe campaign Pharrell shared on his Twitter account for first responders.
“Hospitals are running low on masks, gowns, and other critical items. We need to replenish their supplies,” the producer tweeted, along with a link to the campaign. “Take action, make a donation, and ask others to join the fight. We’re in this together. Let’s protect the responders on the frontlines.”
Needless to say, the tweet wasn’t well-received.
So lemme get this straight. You are asking the millions of American who may not have a job right now to donate?! You're asking people who have an avg HOUSEHOLD income of less than $55,000 to donate? Am I getting that right?
— Homebody (@mellly_mel) March 24, 2020
Celebs asking working ppl who are filing unprecedentedly high unemployment claims, and will spend the next few months agonizing over loss of income.. to donate ….. brilliant. https://t.co/gvroMbwrWz
— Danie The Degenerate (@daniecal) March 24, 2020
People also made note of Pharrell’s $17 million home, which was recently listed for sale. (If you were wondering why the home came with such a high price tag, well that’s because the famed artist’s home looks like a community college.)
I'm just saying… I mean you just put your 17 million dollar mansion up for sale.
— Jahmil (@Jaeandthecity) March 25, 2020
You literally live in a community college spending Kelis Milkshake royalty checks on Uber eats and you’re asking US TO DONATE !?!? pic.twitter.com/RrriCfDTLL
— zac #BLM (@lesolnoir) March 24, 2020
pharrell lives here and he’s asking US to donate!? pic.twitter.com/iRR3qNwVia
— black twt love child (@ferauris) March 25, 2020
We’ve been aware of the privileges allotted to those who are rich or are more well off for some time. But if you still had any doubts, coronavirus has shown how even pandemics favor the rich. How it seems that celebrities get priority access to tests for the virus, along with having the best care to combat it if they do test positive. How celebrities can likely foot the bill for what all of this costs, while some of us are still struggling even with insurance helping us. So it’s understandable that, in the face of a catastrophe like this, we’re all a little fed up with celebrity culture, and particular actions that are meant to convey care or solidarity when it’s not that at all. Seriously, if there’s any celebrity that other celebrities should be emulating it’s clearly Rihanna, who hasn’t only donated $5 million to coronavirus relief efforts but has donated personal protective equipment to the state of New York.
Aside from celebrity gripes, there have been other notable memes that have come amid COVID-19. Early on, there was the coronavirus handwashing meme, where users attached lyrics from their favorite songs to an instructional image on how to properly wash one’s hands. (Turns out that a 17-year-old created the site that generates this meme.)
— Billy Ray Cyrus (@billyraycyrus) March 12, 2020
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But most of the best coronavirus memes simply speak to the relatability we all feel during such a strange time. How each day really is beginning to feel like the same day; how time hits different (and may not exist) when you’re on day 20 of self-isolation; how those of us privileged enough to work from home are late for our morning commute…to our living room.
how everyday feels pic.twitter.com/elJephfeI5
— Z (@zahraloum) March 24, 2020
Day 20 of self-isolation.
I am simultaneously in bed, at work, and hanging out with friends.
Distance has become meaningless.
Time…has become meaningless. pic.twitter.com/hGJ1J8XOiC
— kyle a.b. (@kyalbr) March 31, 2020
Me getting up at 8:59am for the big commute to work to the spare room and the 9am start pic.twitter.com/A53ewhjloA
— Ryan* (@ryan3levis) March 23, 2020
Even the idea of snitching on gatherings of 10 or more people for money has turned into a meme.
I be wanting to snitch on them for free 😂 https://t.co/tzjByQrceY
— Trevor Norris (@trevor_norris0) March 31, 2020
I’d snitch on 10 groups a day. https://t.co/ujSa77UppZ
— GAYTRANADA. ✨ (@jodyizm) March 30, 2020
Police: We need you to snitch on groups larger than 10…
Me: i ain’t no snitch
Police 👮♀️: welp we were willing to pay $5,000 PER NAME
— 🇩🇴 IGNATIUS 🇵🇷 (@luckluciano59) March 31, 2020
Memes are providing a little bit of comfort during this time, and if you ever find yourself down and in need of laugh, this roundup will always be here for your enjoyment.
Other miscellaneous coronavirus memes
— Raphael Mazor (@rmazor) March 25, 2020
When you're on your first day of self-isolation but your third bottle of wine pic.twitter.com/UbZXaHdFPb
— Jack (@J4CKMULL) March 16, 2020
Me and the homies heading to brunch after quarantine over pic.twitter.com/ceS6mq5MNF
— KD (@elitelife_kd) March 31, 2020