Hollywood Privilege and The Coronavirus

Published on April 3, 2020

Amidst the coronavirus outbreak, one thing is becoming abundantly clear, and this is the privilege that comes along with being a member of the Hollywood elite.

The Tests

From Tom Hanks to Andy Cohen, every day brings another news report of a famous person that’s tested positive for COVID-19. In a way, it’s good, because it brings attention to the seriousness and the widespread nature of the disease. However, it also raises questions about testing.

In the United States, it’s incredibly difficult to get tested for COVID-19. There are simply not enough tests to go around. Many are being turned away, even if they’ve been exposed or are showing mild symptoms. In order to get a test in most places, most regular people need to be severely ill or high-risk.

The same is not the case for celebrities. Idris Elba somehow had access to a COVID-19 test, even though he showed no symptoms. It seems that famous people without severe symptoms are being tested while regular folks are being turned away.

The issue here is not that we should stop testing famous people, it’s that we shouldn’t just be testing famous people because of the Hollywood privilege they possess. We should be testing everyone who needs a test.

The Confinements

The problem with Hollywood privilege is not just evident when it comes to testing. Troubled and controversial rapper Tekashi 69 was released from federal prison on Thursday after a judge ruled that he could spend the final four months of his sentence under home confinement. The rapper’s lawyers argued that this was necessary because Tekashi 69 suffers from asthma and is, therefore, at higher risk for complications from the virus.

Tekashi 69 is serving a two-year sentence on a litany of gang-related charges. He is not the only prominent inmate pushing for release in the wake of the coronavirus outbreak. Bill Cosby and R. Kelly are similarly trying to get a judge to sign off on home confinement, so far with no luck.

The rapper’s early release raises questions about what should happen to other inmates without famous names and the promise of media coverage. There are certainly more high-risk inmates with less serious charges that should be considered eligible for home confinement.

Maybe other prisoners don’t have the money to hire expensive lawyers to argue on their behalf. Or maybe, because their names are not famous, other prisoners simply do not hold the same priority.

Olivia Smith is a Staff Writer at Grit Daily. Based in San Francisco, she covers events, entertainment, fashion, and technology. She also serves as a Voices contributor at PopSugar.

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