Let’s have some self-respect and not fall for celebrity group pictures
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Among the many great questions of life (Is there a God? What is consciousness? Who is Kim Kardashian dating?) the ultimate one is: Why do group photos of celebrities break the internet?
Last week, Kristen Bell posted a few “holiday snaps” to her Instagram account including a picture of a long table full of famous faces like Jason Bateman, Jennifer Aniston, Courteney Cox, Adam Scott, Olivia Munn, John Mulaney and Jimmy Kimmel (who reportedly owns the place they’re staying).
Although the lack of diversity around the dinner table was clearly noticed, the reaction from most people was one of unadulterated awe. Some of the comments included: What a dream table. This is beautiful. It’s like a “Where’s Waldo” of famous people. This is the most exciting group of people that I’ve ever seen. This is the modern-day “last supper” image!
Metro UK described it as a “power lunch” and The Independent reported that “Kristen Bell’s celebrity-packed dinner party photo blows fan’s minds” and that “fans are struggling to comprehend the number of celebrities”.
It’s reminiscent of Ellen DeGeneres’ 2014 Oscar selfie, which was the most retweeted photo for years afterward (only to be surpassed in 2017 by a kid on a free chicken nugget campaign because … the internet).
In an era of unfettered access to celebrities’ lives through the lens of (curated) social media, why does the celebrity group photo obsession persist like a stubborn appendix? Does it stem from a belief that all the beautiful, talented people should be kept separate in case an asteroid skittered through the atmosphere and flattened them while they sipped their Grange? Or is it because celebrities are usually lone beasts, prowling their natural habitat of the red carpet for the ravenous media, so that when we see a flock of them in the wild, it’s like stumbling across a herd of white rhinos?
The Ellen DeGeneres selfie from the 2014 Oscars that broke Twitter records.
There have been numerous celestial encounters throughout history, including Michael Jackson and Woody Allen; Tony Blair, Kate Hudson and Sylvester Stallone; Jessica Alba, Steve Irwin and Rosie O’Donnell and Albert Einstein and Charlie Chaplin.
The friendships of celebrities, who they’re doing the horizontal tango with or what brand of bronzer they wear, are a never-ending source of fascination. They become icons in the religious sense of the word; these beautiful, non-human-like deities occupy a dimension beyond our own.
“When we gaze upon the celebrity form (an image of the resoundingly Christ-like David Beckham comes to mind here, clad only in a pure white Calvin Klein loin cloth) we are introjecting a sense of our sacred selves, and expressing a sense that we are more than we appear to be … that Man Beckham is human like us, a father and a husband, but he is a myth realised,” academics Chris Hackley and Rungpaka Amy Hackley wrote in The Iconicity of Celebrity and the Spiritual Impulse.
And maybe that explains why we partake in this frenzied reaction to seeing famous people in a photo together—because they’re not just regular friends hanging out; they’re demi-gods, converging to make the world a better place.
Remember Gal Gadot’s cringy attempt to encourage us all to get through COVID lockdowns by singing Imagine with all her celebrity friends locked up in their sprawling mansions and luxury cars that rang completely hollow? Even celebrities buy into the myth that the world is a better place with them in it.
Well, I say no more. Let’s get more excited about a gathering of scientists who are solving climate change or cancer than a bunch of silver screen show ponies wallowing in cash. In the words of a celebrity we should be listening to, Will Ferrell in Zoolander while brainwashing Derek to kill the president of Malaysia: “Don’t be distracted by the beautiful celebrities”.
We have more important things to do. Like saving actual white rhinos.
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