Culture Feature

14 Celebrities Who Shared Their COVID-19 Stories

The coronavirus clearly cares little for fame.

Tom Hanks and Rita Wilson Coronavirus

When the coronavirus first began to sweep the world in early 2020, few could imagine that in September we'd still be fully immersed in it, living in a world ravaged by fire, disease, and chronic governmental ineptitude.

Today the United States has reported almost 200,000 COVID-19 deaths, and that number shows no sign of decreasing. The virus has spared no one and nothing, and Hollywood and the entertainment industries were hard-hit, with even some of the world's largest and wealthiest stars relegated to their beds, forced to turn to Instagram for sympathy and updates.

Here are some of the most famous people to confess that they received a positive COVID-19 test. It's likely that many other famous people had the virus and either were never diagnosed or chose not to share their stories. The list also doesn't begin to cover the tragedy of all those who died from the virus, or the agony felt by those whose lives were torn apart by the pandemic and other crises in 2020.

But even these few stories are testimonials to a virus that proved itself to be far more powerful than mankind's most renowned figures. And, if the fact that Tom Hanks is still isolating is any proof, it's not over yet.

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Satire

Of Course WWE Is an "Essential Business" in Florida

The chaos of professional wrestling must be contained in the ring for the good of society.

On Monday it was revealed that Governor Ron DeSantis had managed to include World Wrestling Entertainment in the category of businesses deemed "essential" in Florida.

Essential services are exempted from the statewide "safer-at-home" order, which requires residents to remain indoors as much as possible. What this means for WWE is that wrestlers will soon resume taping matches in an empty arena for a television audience. What it means for the state of Florida is that total chaos has been averted.

Vince McMahon Limo Explosion

Of course every state that has restricted movement has had to develop their own metrics for determining which businesses qualify as "essential." In New York liquor stores have been allowed to continue their operations—and have been doing swift business—while in Pennsylvania they are closed, despite expert warnings. But amid broader concerns about Governor DeSantis' lax and delayed response to the ongoing public health crisis, it would be tempting to see his justification that businesses like WWE "are critical to Florida's economy," as a gross miscalculation.

The nation is already guaranteed to face the worst economic downturn since the 1930s, and piecemeal attempts to mitigate the economic impact are likely to backfire by increasing the spread of the virus and necessitating more prolonged and stringent restrictions. Instead, the focus should be on facilitating basic functions during the crisis to avoid further chaos.

Through this lens, an ignorant commentator might accuse Governor DeSantis of underestimating the direness of our circumstances, or worse, of playing favorites with businesses owned by prominent figures in Republican politicsDonald Trump is, after all, a WWE Hall of Famer. But the reality is that the governor really had no choice. WWE must continue its operations for the good of Florida and of the nation.

Vince McMahon with Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson, and Rikishi

If there is one thing professional wrestlers are known for—beyond their physical stature and athletic prowess—it's the drama that seems to dominate their lives. When they aren't having affairs with each others' spouses, they're getting into custody battles, betraying their partners, attempting impromptu castrations, and participating in murder plots. Vince McMahon has managed to contain those soap opera-levels of insanity to the wrestling ring, where combatants can work out their aggression with folding chairs and sledgehammers under the watchful gaze of TV cameras and the significantly less watchful gaze of a referee.

Even within that structured environment, rules are often broken and things frequently get out of hand—with lead pipes and thumb tacks, people's faces being slammed into butts while women and children are fought over as property. Without that carefully managed release valve, how would these superpowered behemoths resolve their disputes? What would stop that drama from spilling out into the streets where oiled men in underwear would slam each other through car windshields and knock fire hydrants loose from their mounts in spectacles of wanton destruction? Do we want police, firefighters and EMTs to be assisting those who truly need their help, or responding to situations like "Florida man lifts other Florida man onto his shoulders, spins him around, then throws him off a bridge?"

Distracted Ref WWE

While WWE's official stance is that they "provide people with a diversion from these hard times," the truth is that they provide a public service by allowing these mythic beasts to work out their aggression and settle their insane quarrels in a controlled environment. While the company also noted that they are "taking additional precautions to ensure the health and wellness of our performers and staff," the most important precaution is to keep their performers wrestling. Because the heels and baby faces of the WWE are America's answer to the greek gods—with all the drama and in-fighting—and Vince McMahon keeps the crashing thunder contained to Mount Olympus.

Thank you, Governor DeSantis, for protecting the public from that chaos.

CULTURE

John Cena and Dwayne Johnson: Why Wrestlers Make the Best Celebrities

They know how to work the crowd like no one else

Muscle-bound action stars are a dime a dozen, but the way people respond to John Cena and Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson speaks to another level of celebrity.

There is something about them that people gravitate towards in a way that few hunks of man-meat have achieved. What is it that makes them so magnetic? Is it possible that it all ties back to their origins as professional wrestlers?

In the early 2000s, both of these men were already superstars, but their passionate fan bases were relatively limited. If you weren't familiar with the fact that you can't see John Cena or the questionable smell of The Rock's cooking—along with The Peoples' various body parts—you weren't really a fan. They were the beloved babyfaces of the squared circle, but outside of that realm, they were basically non-entities. That's no longer the case. Both men have since made a name for themselves as actors in both comedic and action roles. And both men are considered to be among our cultures most lovable celebrities—continuing the legacy of Andre the Giant.

Andre the Giant

If the endless memes don't attest to that love, it's worth noting that both men have been floated as potential presidential candidates. Just today, they are both trending in news stories because John Cena revealed that he is a BTS fanboy and Dwayne Johnson's father, Rocky Johnson—a wrestling star in his own right—passed away. One story is light and silly, the other is sad, but in both cases the outpouring of love from the Internet is unequivocal. So what makes these crossover stars so special? Perhaps it's related to the way that stardom works in wrestling.

Despite the common persona of the invincible, ultra-manly behemoth, wrestlers actually have to be pretty approachable and emotionally intelligent. A wrestler's success is closely tied to their interactions with the audience. They cultivate call and response routines with fans in the stands, and they feed off the energy of the crowd. Most performers don't have that kind of relationship with their audiences. Actors generally have a camera and a screen between them and their fans, and even in a theater setting the respectful hush functions as a similar barrier. But wrestlers need the jeers and the cheers. They need the audience to feel a personal connection to their fate in the ring—because the slapstick action and soap-opera storylines wouldn't play otherwise.

the rock smile

It's the personal connection—the charming smile that comes out when they aren't mean-mugging—that sells the image of a burly badass with a soft heart. It's what makes it so fun to watch Dwayne Johnson goofing off with Kevin Hart, and it's why John Cena breaks records with his make-a-wish visits. It's all about those personal connections. They both come across as so genuinely sweet and open, because they both got their starts as wrestlers. They each spent years making stadiums full of screaming fans feel like they had a one-on-one relationship, and now we all get that pleasure when we see them on TV and in movies.

The point is, don't be surprised when A.J. Styles and Becky Lynch end up starring in the next Judd Apatow movie.