By Lambert Strether of Corrente.
“The spectacle is not a collection of images, but a social relation among people, mediated by images.” –Guy DeBord, The Society of the Spectacle
Alert reader MN threw a Google Doc over the transom, entitled “WHAT COVID-19 IS DOING TO PERFORMERS” (“Performers”) which is the first systematic treatment of this topic I have seen. (A PDF is embedded at the end of this post). It’s apparently written and/or maintained by an account owner named Ifrit. The lead paragraph:
Performers are at particularly high-risk for damage from repeat COVID-19 infections due to travel, lifestyle, and contact with the public at large events. This is a continually-updated list of actors, musicians, athletes and public figures who have been adversely affected by COVID/Long COVID. This ranges from canceled events, to quitting performing due to chronic illnesses, to sudden deaths.
The document is a spreadsheet with columns for Performer, Date, Description, and Link (to the source). Each Row is a performer, e.g. “Adele,” and is coded for Canceled Events, Severe or New-Onset Chronic Illness, and Death. It’s an impressive and informative piece of work.
“Performers” is also a little short: There are only 24 items. So I thought to expand the list. I used three sources, color-coded as follows:
 WebMed, “Celebrities With Coronavirus” (November 19, 2022)
 US Magazine, “Stars Who Tested Positive for COVID-19 in 2022: Justin Bieber, Jimmy Fallon and More” (December 13, 2022)
Here is the expanded list. Scan it, and if you recognize a celeb, please share in comments! (I don’t, frankly, but I’m basically orthoganal to celebrities).
Aaron Tveit, Abby Mueller, Adam Woolard, Adele, Aisling Bea, Al Roker, Alli Dore, Alli Simpson, Alyssa Milano, Amanda Kloots, Amy Robach, Amy Schumer, Ana Navarro, Andy Cohen, Anna Camp, Antonio Banderas, Arie Luyendyk Jr. , Ashley Park, Avery Henry, Barack Obama, Beanie Feldstein, Boris Johnson, Brad “Scarface” Jordan, Brandon Williamson, Bruce Springsteen, Bryan Cranston, Camila Cabello, Cary Elwes, Chris Cuomo, Christine Bottomley, Connie Britton, Cristiano Ronaldo, Daniel Craig, Daniel Dae Kim, Dean McDermott, Debi Mazar, Denzel Washington, Dinosaur Jr., Donald Trump, Doug Emhoff, Drake, Duchess Camilla, Dustin Johnson, Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson, Dylan O’Brien, Ellen DeGeneres, Elton John, Eric Clapton, George Stephanopoulos, Giuliana Rancic, Gleb Savchenko, Guns N’ Roses, Hannah Brown, Harry Styles, Harvey Weinstein, Herman Cain, Hillary Clinton, Hoda Kotb, Hugh Grant, Hugh Jackman, Idris Elba, J-Hope, James Cameron, James Corden, Jenna Bush Hager, Jessie Cave, Jessie J, Jill Biden, Jillian Michaels, Jimin, Jimmy Fallon, Jimmy Kimmel, Joe Biden, John Mayer, John Prine , Jon Batiste, Joseph Kamal, Julianne Hough, Jungkook, Justin Baldoni, Justin Bieber, Kate Snow, Kelly Ripa, Kenley Jansen, Kevin Durant, Khloe Kardashian, LA Knight, Larry King, Lauren Burnham, Lauren Graham, Lea Michele, Lesley Stahl, Liam Payne, Lisa Vanderpump, Lorde, Luke Combs, Lupita Nyong’o, Malika Haqq, Martha Stewart, Matthew Broderick, Maya Vander, Mayim Bialik, Mel Gibson, Melania Trump, Michael Sheen, Mick Jagger, Miley Cyrus, Neil Patrick Harris, Nick Saban, Nicola Coughlan, Paul Simon, Pearl Jam, Pink, Prince Charles, Prince William, Queen Elizabeth II, Rand Paul, Ringo Starr, Ringo Starr, Rita Wilson, Robert Pattinson, Robin Roberts, Roy Horn, Rudy Gobert, Ryan Seacrest, SKID ROW, Sadie Robertson , Sam Smith, Sarah Jessica Parker, Sarah Snook, Savannah Guthrie , Sean Penn, Selena Gomez, Seth Meyers, Sharon Osbourne , Simon Cowell, Stephen Amell, Stephen Colbert, Steve Martin, Sutton Foster, Tamron Hall, Taron Egerton, Taylor Momsen, Tom Hanks, Tony Shalhoub, Tori Spelling, Usain Bolt, Whitney Port, and Whoopi Goldberg .
This is a total of 149 names, including the original 25. I haven’t had time to add Date or Description fields, but maybe some kind soul will pass this post on to account owner Ifrit to advance the project.
But why, you ask, is this data interesting? Beyond the intrinsic interest of a list in which Mick Jagger, Paul Simon, and Queen Elizabeth II all appear? Two main reasons:
First, we have an interesting natural experiment, rather like the Harvard Study of Adult Development. We have a class of people who have admitted they have had Covid, so we don’t have to rely on surveys or anything like that. And this class of people leads rather similar lives: Lots of air travel, lots of crowds, lots of time in the Green Room, and so forth. We will be able to follow them for many years, and see what the long-term effects are. Of course, it’s true that we won’t get a lot of detail, their publicists won’t permit that, but events like Cancellations, or withdrawal from performing due to [fill in sequelae], or premature death will all be a matter of public record. And we may be able to use celebrities as proxies for other classes who lead similar lives; sports figures, for example. Or politicians. (It may be that the Category Error Police should drag me away for conflating “performer” and “celebrity,” but the above list wouldn’t be hard to clean.)
Second, we have an interesting social, or even moral, experiment. How many of these celebrities do you remember modeling protective pandemic behavior? Not merely masking, but ventilation, and other non-pharmaceutical interventions? I’m sure some have, but I can’t remember a one.
This leads me to the unfortunate cases of celebrities who are #DavosSafe in private, but don’t model protective behavior in public. (Readers, again feel free to add examples in comments.)
First, Beyoncé’s Non-Pharmaceutical Interventions (NPIs):
Celebrities and the wealthy know that to keep functional you have to protect yourself. Beyonce is still masking. In her tour trailer her green room is filled with HEPA filters. There are massive stage filtration systems in place for touring musicians who can afford it. https://t.co/DsoLLS4nPQ
— Covid Caution (@CovidCaution) October 4, 2023
Beyoncé’s HEPA filters:
We live in a culture of celebrity worship. If more celebs shared their COVID mitigations, more people would follow suit, and lives would be saved. 100% https://t.co/tL5hRKfozU
— Cheryl (@tincanfire) October 2, 2023
Surely if Beyoncé modeled masking behaviors and showed off her HEPA filters, she’d be showing she wants to save the lives of her fans?
Second, Travis Kelce, Taylor [genuflects] Swift’s putative boyfriend:
Great to see Travis Kelce in a commercial encouraging people to get their flu shots and updated Covid-19 boosters.
Definitely need more celebrities normalizing these public health steps we can all take to keep ourselves and each other safe.
— Matt (@nosoupforgeorge) October 1, 2023
(Whatever on combining flu shots and Covid boosters; I wish I’d see a takedown on that idea.) So if Kelce is encouraging people on the pharma side, why in the name of Sweet Suffering Jeebus can’t Swift be saving some lives at her superspreader events by modeling NPIs, and encouraging her fans to mask up? Isn’t her stardom good for anything more than the big bucks? Couldn’t she be using her star power to save some lives?
Third, KISS. From the Vancouver Sun:
Members of the band KISS used a little-known treatment created by a Vancouver biomedical company to avoid getting COVID-19 and cancelling their farewell world tour after lead singer Paul Stanley tested positive for the virus, their manager says.
“I started this with the rock band KISS when Paul Stanley became infected with the coronavirus in Pittsburgh on our tour. I had nowhere to turn. I called some friends of mine in Los Angeles in infectious disease. Nobody had an answer. Nobody had any idea what to do, except to call this company in Canada,” manager Doc McGhee said Monday at a news conference in Toronto.
“Without this, we wouldn’t be on the road. We couldn’t have done the extra 100 shows that we just did.”
he company McGhee called was Vancouver-based Ondine Biomedical, which created Steriwave, a technology that involves putting a disinfecting liquid into the nose and then activating it with lights attached to probes to kill viruses lurking in the respiratory system.
It has been used by Vancouver General Hospital to reduce infections in surgery patients for more than 11 years. A study released last Thursday showed the use of this “nasal photodisinfection” at Ottawa Hospital reduced the length of patients’ hospital stays, readmissions and antibiotic use.
Swell (really). Can’t KISS use their star power to help get word about the technology out there?
And so it goes. Just another sign of civilizational collapse, I suppose!
APPENDIXWhat COVID is doing to performers