Words by Sophie McMahon & Lucy Dover
Celebrity privilege: It’s a buzz term that comes up at least once a year, and it usually involves celebrities doing something so out of touch that we’re all left open-mouthed and shaking our heads. If you haven’t heard about ITV presenters Holly Willoughby and Phillip Schofield skipping ‘the queue’ to see the Queen lying-in-state, you’ve missed one of the clearest examples of it this year.
Following Queen Elizabeth II’s death on September 8th, her body was transported from Balmoral to London, where she lay in state for nearly six days. Those who wished to pay their respects could do so during this time, but they would have to join ‘the queue’. At its peak, this line was nearly ten miles long, with a wait time of more than 24 hours: it was the mother lode of all queues, a true triumph of Britishness. Along with the average person, some famous faces were spotted waiting in line, including football legend David Beckham, Game of Thrones’ Tilda Swinton, and singer James Blunt, who each waited nearly 12 hours to bid their farewells.
The This Morning duo, Holly and Phil, were also in attendance but have since faced major criticism for their queue-jumping offences after they entered Westminster Hall without waiting. A petition to have the two axed from the beloved ITV show has now reached more than 65,000 signatures. Representatives from the television network have stated that the two were there in a professional capacity as part of the ‘world’s media to report on the event’. Yet their colleague, Susanna Reid, did her fair share of waiting alongside ‘ordinary’ mourners.
Ironically, the two TV personalities join an even longer queue of ‘nice’ celebrities who have faced backlash after saying or doing privileged things. Whilst on the surface they may seem relatable to the public, beloved celebrities often end up doing something completely out of touch, like singing John Lennon’s Imagine during a global pandemic, or requesting that an entire store be opened early just for them (James Corden).
Ellen DeGeneres, the short-haired, bubbly daytime talk show host who spent nearly two decades in most American living rooms, is a popular example of the so-called ‘nice’ celebrity. Her downfall came in a virtual broadcast of her show during COVID, where she expressed feeling like she was ‘in jail’ due to the enforced quarantine. The juxtaposition of her comment against the backdrop of her £4.8 million home- the first of two home purchases in 2020- left a sour taste in the mouth of many viewers.
Ellen isn’t the only celebrity to fall victim to being held accountable for words and actions. Euphoria star Sydney Sweeney faced backlash earlier this year after stating that “they [Hollywood] don’t pay actors what they used to,” and if she “wanted to take a six month break” she wouldn’t have “the income to cover that.” Meanwhile the star reportedly takes home a whopping $350,000 a year just from acting roles, and recently bought a $3 million mansion in LA. Fans were quick to point out the irony of her statements with one Twitter user stating “in what other occupation can people afford a six-month break…?” and another expressing that they can’t feel bad for her because “being Hollywood poor and real life poor are two different things”.
While the so-called ‘nice’ celebrities, in contrast to your Kim K’s and Kanye’s, appear down to Earth, the reward for their status can sometimes be too impossible to resist, and they drop the act. Their ‘relatable’ mask slips, revealing that they are nothing like us after all.