The Sunday Post
Our new normal will include big changes for the world’s biggest stars as we inch in and out of lockdown, say experts.
Celebrity watchers and public relations professionals burnishing the image of the world’s biggest stars believe the pandemic might be ushering in a new kind of superstar. As countries around the world went into lockdown, and coronavirus changed our daily lives, our adoration shifted from the celebrity elite to the key workers and frontline staff helping to keep us safe.
Our applause was reserved for nurses, doctors and other key workers every Thursday night, and even our glossy magazines featured everyday heroes, with fashion bible Vogue picturing a train driver, supermarket worker and community midwife on its front cover in July.
So, why has the Covid-19 pandemic changed who we admire?
Leading publicist Mark Borkowski, who has written on the history of public relations, believes the shift started years ago with reality television, and later the birth of Generation Z – young people who now expect more from their celebrities, and won’t settle for anything less than authenticity.
He explained: “What we’re beginning to see is a generation who, arguably, can be described as the woke generation. They’re more aware, politically, of what’s happening in the world, especially in terms of climate change, LGBTQ+ rights, trans issues, and the Black Lives Matter movement.
“And this time, this moment of Covid, has exploded that change. We’re beginning to see sacrifice, we’re beginning to see who has true value, who has true purpose, and who is actually contributing.
“Instagram stars heading off to Ibiza to show off their glamorous lifestyle has no value. Value is the people who can keep you alive, so naturally Vogue puts a nurse on the front cover.”
Mark agrees that readers, listeners and viewers now want to see more “real” celebrities, and points to the likes of Manchester United footballer Marcus Rashford, who graced the cover of Vogue’s September issue as one of the title’s “faces of hope”.
He said: “The people we are looking up to, going forward, are real people – the Greta Thunbergs, who have real values and stand for something.
“We’re slap bang in the middle of a very hot culture war. There’s a massive generational shift I don’t think we’ve seen since the 1950s.”
For celebrities who want to remain relevant, being relatable on social media is vital – but it’s tricky to get right, as Ellen DeGeneres proved when she likened quarantine in her Californian mansion to “like being in jail”.