Ever since a slew of celebrities joined together to croon Imagine, there’s been a sense of change in the air that has nothing to do with hitting a few flat notes.
The poorly received Gal Gadot-organised video seeped into our social media feeds relatively early in the pandemic, just as the reality of isolation and job losses were hitting more countries. It was a video that set the tone for how celebrity culture would shift in a COVID-19 world.
With the world locked away behind closed doors, two things quickly became abundantly clear.
Comfort TV and Zoom drinks were in and celebrity opulence was now about as palatable as crocs teamed with cargo pants.
At first, the changes to the world of celebrity were subtle. The famous turned away from the opulence of sprawling homes in favour of filming Instagram videos against blank walls while fashion influencers killed their haul content in favour of quotes tinged with kindness and activism.
Listen to The Spill hosts Laura Brodnik and Kee Reece discuss Kylie Jenner and the death of celebrity Instagram culture. Post continues after podcast.
A world where lifestyles of the rich and famous were once a cornerstone of our entertainment was now no place for anyone who failed to curb their humble brags.
Instead of chuckling along to Ellen DeGeneres' joke about feeling like she was in prison, viewers scoffed at the comments made from within her sprawling multi-million dollar mansion.
No one could really tap into the celebrity voyeurism of watching Madonna writhe around in a bathtub filled with rose petals, as she mused that COVID was really ‘the great equaliser’. Failing to acknowledge the difference between those who were cocooning and those who were starving.
Even celebrities who had once based their entire public personas off their ability to entice followers with wealth and privilege are now having to rethink and rebrand for an audience ready to yell “off with their heads!”.
Most notably is Paris Hilton, who for months has been systematically disabling the wealthy heiress schtick on which she founded an empire. All in favour of a rawer and more relatable content plan, including her new documentary, based on the knowledge that authenticity now has more currency than mansions filled with Birkin bags.
But with so many countries beginning to loosen their restrictions, handfuls of people able to venture back into work and movies slowly starting to trickle back into cinemas, the question became whether or not celebrity culture could also be resuscitated.
That was until Kylie Jenner posted an image of her daughter to Instagram and hammered the last nail in the coffin for how celebrity culture could be utilised on Instagram.