There’s no question that we’re all feeling the effects of this global pandemic, but it seems not everyone carries the same burden.
We’re talking about our favourite entertainers who are seemingly off-script when it comes to COVID-19.
Most countries imposed travel bans and lockdowns to limit coronavirus exposure among the population. Last year (and even this year) was a major bummer for those of us separated from friends and loved ones, but it was necessary.
Outbreaks are a global problem that has been difficult to contain. That’s why filtering travel is one way to keep the virus from spreading, along with self-isolation.
While health should be the primary concern, it seems that an ever-growing list of COVID-19 cases cannot dim the spotlight of some Hollywood A-listers.
Not wanting to be outdone by billionaires and their private jets, some celebrities and influencers are finding their own ways to travel, as if the coronavirus pandemic is a minor inconvenience.
Based on how you feel about these particular celebs, their presence in Australia — and other countries besides their own — is either a massive downer or a chance for selfies.
Most Aussies aren’t happy, though.
It seems like Tinseltown is on its way to Australia. The question remains, do they have a right to be here?
From Hollywood to Sydney?
The Sydney Morning Herald reported that the New South Wales government approved many proposals from glitzy names like Ed Sheeran, Zac Efron, and Julia Roberts.
If you’re in NSW, you’re most likely to catch glimpses or hear murmurs of celeb sightings.
While Sydney and Melbourne aren’t as star-packed as New York or Los Angeles, they have their share of arts and culture (although Troye Sivan didn’t seem to agree when he took a break from lockdown to fly off to the MET gala last weekend), so it’s no surprise why it’s a go-to destination for actors.
Why are these A-listers and other celebs swapping familiar grounds for Australian addresses?
One reason could be the government’s massive location incentive, to the tune of $400 Million. A handout that big is sure to entice producers to scout their locations on Aussie soil.
Like Caitlyn Jenner, reality star and candidate for governor of California, many were in Australia to shoot previously contracted projects. Who knows, you might have a cameo!
Marvel star’s Natalie Portman and Chris Hemsworth flew out to Sydney to film Thor: Love and Thunder, followed by Tessa Thompson, director Taika Waititi, and his girlfriend Rita Ora in what looked to be a Minaj e tua.
Sacha Baron Cohen and Isla Fisher followed suit, the lovebirds swapping Sydney for Perth. All of these household names were among the few who had Australia as their shoot location.
Ditto for Christian Bale, who’s also shooting for an upcoming Thor movie, and Colin Farrel for a non-fiction feature.
Generous laws for filming is only one aspect of it. Compared to other countries, Australia has fewer COVID-19 cases.
No stranger to isolation, Tom Hanks was among the first to contract COVID-19 when he visited Queensland last year. Now, the Forrest Gump star is back as Elvis in a biopic, and unlike his box of chocolates, no surprises this time.
Faith in our health protocols might also be why celebrities flock to Australia, with some even snatching up real estate.
Many argue that celebrities shacking up in NSW beach town Byron Bay is the reason for its 36 % house price spike, though that’s debatable.
Not having to worry about the pandemic does sound enticing when 1 in every 500 US residents have died of the virus.
At the rate the pandemic is going, we can’t blame them.
BBC first reported Hanks testing positive in March last year, but the star was back Down Under in September the same year, and it wasn’t for the beaches this time.
Another likely reason why Australia’s a hub for Hollywood’s big names is the alleged double standard given to them, not exactly a TMZ scoop, honestly.
Nicole Kidman drew public ire when she was allowed to be in her country estate instead of the mandated hotel quarantine. Granted, she has experience isolating herself in a huge house, hopefully not as a ghost this time. (Spoiler alert!)
Putting work aside, Australia is a great place to be on laid-back-vacation-mode, as evidenced by Kylie Minogue’s desire to soak in some sun, and Beauty and the Beast star Luke Evans doing the same.
The reason for these celebrities being in Australia notwithstanding, it’s questionable that they’re allowed in with the uptick in cases.
International travellers increase the risk of an outbreak and subsequent lockdowns, something no one is looking forward to after almost two years of quarantines and restrictions.
Wanting to come home while being stranded in a different country is one thing. Flying for the sake of leisure and non-essential work when people are stuck overseas is another.
Limiting the number of passengers allowed on a flight works only for the middle class, but that won’t deter those who can afford it: case in point, regular people who shelled out premium fare, saw themselves booted out of their oversold flights.
Who can afford to splurge on five digits tickets? Celebrities. Too bad for countless stranded Australians who aren’t as loaded.
Some may argue that the media traction and economic benefits brought by this star-studded migration is worth the risk. While we shouldn’t let the pandemic affect how we live our lives, some discretion is necessary at times like this.
Sure, the entertainment and tourism sectors need a boost to stay afloat but so do other industries. If another outbreak occurs, everyone suffers.
“Stuck Stars” Don’t Have Us Starstruck
Take Kidman’s situation as an example. The Moulin Rouge star is under fire for touting the imposed hotel quarantine and choosing to wait it out in her 4.5 million-dollar farmhouse.
In an ordinary world, a celebrity staying in a closed-off, secluded residence is no big deal. In a COVID-19 scenario? That simply won’t fly.
When officials require compliance from the majority but excuse the elite, accusations of double standards and preferential treatment are hard to ignore.
Adding more insult to injury is the reduced number of flights entering the country, meaning stranded Australians wanting to come home need to cough up more money.
The money and fanfare that celebrities bring isn’t something to scoff at, but with the current situation, certain sacrifices are necessary.
Movies and TV shows are good stress relievers. For an hour or two, you get a make-believe world where reality takes a backseat. But let’s keep the Kardashians and the cast of Love Island where they belong: on our screens.
Australia is a top destination for sightseers and travellers across the globe. However, movies and shows can wait. Lives can’t.