Well, it’s unclear of which cynics, pessimists, and hypochondriacs saw this coming, but here we are, smack dab in the middle of a pandemic. One serious enough to be claiming an insurmountable number of casualties and with economic and social effects that reach farther than collateral damage. Businesses are closing down, people are freaking out, the President continues to reveal his xenophobia with little effect to his approval rating, and Gal Gadot has recruited her rolodex of millionaires to awkwardly “Band Aid” a rendition of John Lennon’s “Imagine”. It’s safe to say we’ve hit a low point. Still, people in masses seem to be doing their part in a combined effort to curb the ongoing crisis by staying in, showing a greater level of empathy, and maybe give the world a much needed break from its over consumption.. all but a few.
Here at SMACK we’ve decided to spread awareness of those who are seriously fucking shit up for all of us; those who are setting bad examples, spreading misinformation, and/or endangering others. In good faith, we want to be clear and say it might not all come from a place of evil and selections range from the irresponsible and shameful to the bizarre and cringey. Regardless, we’d like to take the rare opportunity to point the finger and induct the following into the COVID Hall of Shame.
Remember Chris Brown? No, not the one who pops molly and hit Rihanna (though I’m sure he’s not self isolating either), the lead singer of nu metal band Trapt from 2002. No? neither had we until a combined 150 hours in self isolation led us to the most ridiculous twitter meltdown we had seen since Amanda Bynes demanded that Drake murder her vagina.
Posting 900 tweets in 48 hours, the debacle kicked off when Brown used the Trapt official Twitter to respond to Chris Evans’ reaction to Trump’s Monday press conference in which the President referred to COVID-19 as a “Chinese virus,” a term which Brown insisted Trump had a right to use.
He went on to call Trump’s decision to restrict travel from China earlier this year as the “sole reason” the hospitals aren’t overrun by coronavirus and called Bishop Talbert Swan a culprit of victim mentality after the civil rights activist labelled Trump a racist.
In a constant barrage of tweets to public figures and replies to naysayers, Brown literally responded to every tweet that came his way and continued to call Black American users victimizers, White female users “fat,” Chinese users as the cause of the virus and cited China’s use of the term “African swine flu” as a rebuttal though this had not been used by a political leader.
Elsewhere in the scroll, he states true equality came into effect the moment the Civil Rights Act was passed in 1964, argues that his band is not nu, Limp Bizkit was awesome, and that metal is for nerds. The one thing we can gain from reading these tweets is you have yet one more reason not to name your kid Chris if your last name is Brown.
This week, thousands of Tesla employees in the company’s Bay Area reported to work despite California calling closures to all non essential businesses, that comes from money. CEO Elon Musk responded affirmatively to a tweet calling on his company to begin producing ventilators for hospitals in need and catching New York City Mayor Bill De Blasio on his hands and knees, that comes from power. Calling coronavirus dumb, well that’s just plain stupidity. All three are shameful and the coronavirus pandemic is all but continuing to show what an egomaniac “the real life Iron Man” really is.
Spitting in the face of public health efforts, Musk called the overallocation of medical resources will come at the expense of treating other illnesses and that panic will be more harmful than the virus itself. Somebody take away this guy’s twitter. In addition, he explained the risk of death from the virus is far less than the risk of death from driving. As for the ventilators, Musk has been known to poke his beak into well publicized emergencies without much follow through.
Jim Heath, who assumes the role of theatrical psychobilly artist Reverend Horton Heat caught a backlash when he refused to cancel the remaining dates of his tour last Friday. The Texas based musician claimed that performing during a pandemic is a constitutional right, that forced cancellations are a breach of right to assembly, and that he has bills to pay and mouths to feed…Amurikah, fuck yeah.
The senile Texas based artist took to Facebook to announce that he was refusing to cancel shows and encouraged fans to defy government guidance to stay home. “I encourage everyone who lives in a jurisdiction where local governments are restricting rock and roll to push back. Write emails and call your local government agencies to remind them that we have the right to assembly. They can’t stop rock and roll!”
A few days later, amidst online protest (the post currently has 4400 comments) and Trump announcing a state of emergency, Heath updated the post and reassured his following that any cancellations made for the tour are not due to COVID-19 and can be attributed to promoters. Someone please notify the Reverend that yes, indeed they can stop rock and roll and Blackboard Jungle is now streaming on Taboo.
The food and beverage industry is just one of many decimated from low turnout and an unprecedented amount of layoffs. While many figures from Jose Andrés to David Chang are shutting down stores and paying their employees, there’s one giant failing to comply with safety standards.
Business Insider reports that after finding audio their White House meetings, McDonalds were apparently lobbying the Trump administration to make changes to the coronavirus bill to stop giving workers paid sick leave. While the giant adjusted its policies to provide sick leave for employees of its company owned locations, McDonald’s is 95% owned by franchisees who have been given the rights to determine their own sick leave policies. The New York Times reports that McDonalds is the number one employer in retail, food bev, and hospitality who have the most workers lacking paid sick leave at 517,000.
Though the original bill required a permanent paid-sick leave requirement, republicans had it dropped and the current bill requires employers with 50-500 workers to provide two weeks of paid sick leave excluding the rest. They’ve also pushed back against using a tax credit which would not adequately protect franchisees. In addition to meeting with Trump (a noted McDonald’s supporter) last Monday, the company reached out to Secretary of the Treasury Steven Mnunchin to discuss alterations of the coronavirus bill which Trump signed Thursday and will be likely passed by the senate next week. McDonald’s made $5.3 billion in 2019.
With Rage Against the Machine, Billie Eilish, and The Rolling Stones postponing (cancelling without paying everybody back) their highly anticipated tours in the last two weeks, the aftermath of coronavirus on the live music sector has been debilitating for concertgoers, but necessary for the general public.
Which is why most people were perplexed to see that Post Malone hadn’t moved the date for his show in Colorado in the same arena where the Nuggets had been forced to seize all games for the foreseeable future. Public gatherings had not been officially banned by the time Post had announced that he was moving forward with his March 12 tour stop. Still, people were enraged to see the proper precautions had not been taken to postpone a gathering of 18,000 despite being urged to do so by state officials.
Just hours before the Pepsi Center confirmed the show would proceed and after seeing footage of the packed arena, many fans and critics have pointed out that a crowded indoor concert could potentially result in additional cases and deaths. Some of those with tickets had apparently also been denied a refund from the box office. The rapper’s motivations were not made clear but it couldn’t have justified the irresponsibility as Live Nation had announced earlier that day that it would be suspending all large scale tours after the following Saturday.
R&B singer Keri Hilson has mostly kept quiet after a fairly active 2000’s until she took to twitter last weekend to announce that the newly launched network standard 5G is a contributing factor to the spread of coronavirus.
With insurance scams and misinformation running rampant during this time, it seems a boldly incorrect theory while hilarious, can still do some damage in misleading the public from following proper precautions. In a series of tweets since removed under the direction of her management team, Hilson pleaded her case: what the world is experiencing right now stems from radiation, the virus appeared shortly after the launch of 5G in China last November, and the virus is not happening in Africa where apparently there are no data networks.
While there are enough holes in this theory to drive a truck through it, we’ll plainly say that 5G network connections, like LTE and 4G use radio waves which are a non harmful part of the electromagnetic spectrum, especially to breathing.
Gal Gadot should have consulted a PR specialist, not only for the entire stunt of releasing a supercut of various celebrities singing John Lennon’s “Imagine” from their multi million dollar homes, but at the very least for that weird introduction worthy of a bad Disney TV movie: “it doesn’t matter who you are, where you’re from we’re all in this together.”
Inspired by “this Italian guy” playing a trumpet from a balcony in Europe, Gal Gadot’s spliced version of “Imagine” wasn’t just out of touch, it was actually bad. The video posted to IGTV Thursday morning featured celebrities like Will Ferrell, Natalie Portman, and Jimmy Fallon singing the anti-war song unintentionally in different keys and tempos, some taking strange liberties (Sia, Labrinth) and others looking uninterested into their selfie cameras (Zoe Kravitz, Pedro Pascal). Not to mention the second verse had abruptly been cut in half.
The video drew widespread criticism from people who considered the clip awkward, irrelevant, and egocentric in that a troupe of celebrities in their gardens and closet rooms believed that a poorly edited cover could lift the spirits of commoners in fear and isolation. Like.. Here, bitch!
As a consensus the Twittersphere asked “how millionaires singing about “no possessions” from their mansions is supposed to ease my anxiety” when donations are clearly what we need. “Isolation” would have been better.