God bless Vanessa Hudgens. Right across the media people are looking for content that isn’t utterly depressing, or isn’t about the bloody so-called “curve”, or “social distancing”. And let me tell you, it’s a bleak, bleak landscape for content right now. And then along comes a good-looking Hollywood starlet to say something absolutely outrageous. It’s manna from heaven:
“After Vanessa Hudgens went live on Instagram on Monday, her comments about the coronavirus went viral — the bad kind of viral. Presumably in response to a question about the outbreak lasting into the summer, Hudgens said, “Yeah, til July sounds like a bunch of bulls—, I’m sorry. It’s a virus, I get it. I respect it.”
“But at the same time, like, even if everybody gets it — like, yeah, people are gonna die. Which is terrible. But, like, inevitable? I don’t know, maybe I shouldn’t be doing this right now,” she said with a laugh.”
Hudgens, for those of you who don’t know, is a 31 year old American who’s mainly famous for her role in something called “High school musical” and for having nude photos of herself leaked on the internet by that hacker who targeted women in Hollywood a few years ago. You may not have heard of her, but your children and grandchildren probably have. They’re her audience.
So, it’s probably not a great idea for your children and grandchildren to hear a role model tell them to go out and have fun, because who cares about grandpa – he’s going to die anyway.
Add that to the general reluctance in America for people to comply with President Trump’s exhortations to self-isolate, and you have the perfect media storm.
Indeed, America, not the UK, looks to be ground zero for ineffective Coronavirus response at the moment. We shared this image of Clearwater Beach in Florida yesterday, but here’s more of it:
— WFLA NEWS (@WFLA) March 16, 2020
It’s also, at the moment, something called “spring break” in America, which is the time of year when College students traditionally go to places like Florida and Mexico in their tens of thousands to get drunk and fiddle around with each other, which, in the present crisis, means finding innovative new ways to transmit the virus to each other before going home to hug their grandparents.
Hudgens, then, is the perfect villain, because she embodies an attitude that seems to be widespread. It’s always been the case that the young consider themselves immortal – that’s why young fellas drive cars at 140kph on Donegal roads designed for horses and carts, and why young women smoke more than any other demographic. Add to that the fact that death rates from the virus are miniscule in that age group and you get a widespread “what’s the big deal?” narrative emerging. And then when Grandpa is being lowered into the ground, you get the theatrical tears and wailing and the “why did the Government allow this to happen?”, when the answer is “they didn’t – you did, dumbo”.
The other factor here, of course, is that we’re all looking for a villain to bash. In London, during the Blitz, it was probably easy enough to maintain a sense of unity against a common enemy, because you could see the enemy. You could feel nice and defiant by shaking your fist at the sky at the passing Junkers Ju-88 or Heinkel HE-111. It’s much harder to shake your fist at an invisible virus, so we need to find human enemies instead. Yesterday, for example, HSE boss Paul Reid took to twitter to administer a slapping to Web Summit CEO Paddy Cosgrave, who has had the temerity to refuse to wear the green jersey at all times:
So Paddy, @paddycosgrave, we have never met personally or professionally. I don't do spin and aim to be straight with the public. You have your view and I have my responsibilities as CEO of @HSELive, which I cherish. Throwing rocks from the sideline doesnt help anyone #COVID19 https://t.co/dAQCa9oxkg
— Paul Reid (@paulreiddublin) March 17, 2020
It’s also why we get disproportionately annoyed with politicians, even though, to be fairer to Simon Harris than he ever is to the rest of us, this virus isn’t actually his fault, and he’s doing his best. We need a villain.
So hurrah for Vanessa Hudgens, for saying something so stupid. Here’s her apology. Let’s see whether it saves her from being cancelled.
— Vanessa Hudgens (@VanessaHudgens) March 17, 2020