In Depth

Lockdown losers: the celebrity reputations taking a hit during the coronavirus pandemic

A growing cast of famous faces have been slated for their performances during the crisis

Donald Trump has stormed out of a White House press conference after clashing with reporters over their “nasty questions” about the coronavirus crisis.

The president is facing growing criticism of his handling of the outbreak in the US, with The New York Times columnist Paul Krugman tweeting that the nation is at “psychological turning point” that could force even “Trump diehards” to “face up to his essential unfitness”.

So which other high-profile figures have seen their reputations taking a dive as a result of the global pandemic?

Elon Musk

The Tesla chief this week tweeted that he is reopening his electric car plant in California, despite a local order against manufacturing as part of efforts to curb the spread of the virus.

Musk has been vocal about his opposition to lockdown restrictions, recently tweeting: “FREE AMERICA NOW.” He has also dismissed concerns about Covid-19 as “dumb”, reports the BBC.

The tycoon previously threatened to relocate his car plant from the California city of Fremont after local officials ordered that production remain suspended.

“Frankly, this is the final straw,” Musk tweeted on 9 May. “Tesla will now move its HQ and future programs to Texas/Nevada immediately.”

His online outbursts have triggered considerable criticism, with California assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez firing back a post that simply said: “F*ck Elon Musk.”

Musk might have expected a PR boost when he confirmed the arrival of his first baby with singer Grimes last week. But it was eyebrows rather than drinks being raised when the name of the newborn boy was announced - X Æ A-12.

Bryan Adams

The Canadian pop-rocker has shocked fans this week with a sweary tirade against China, after concerts that he was due to play at London’s Royal Albert Hall were cancelled, reports The Guardian.

In a post on Instagram on Monday, Adams said: “Tonight was supposed to be the beginning of a tenancy of gigs at the @royalalberthall, but thanks to some fucking bat eating, wet market animal selling, virus making greedy bastards, the whole world is now on hold, not to mention the thousands that have suffered or died from this virus. My message to them other than ‘thanks a fucking lot’ is go vegan.”

The rant echoes comments made by Paul McCartney, a long-time vegetarian and animal rights activist, in April. Speaking to US radio host Howard Stern, McCartney said: “Let’s face it, it is a little bit medieval eating bats… They will not close down these wet markets, that got us into this trouble in the first place.”

Kyle Walker

The Manchester City and England footballer has also failed to score PR points with his games and antics during the lockdown.

Walker’s face was splashed across tabloids after he hosted a birthday party at his house with two sex workers in April.

He issued a public apology, but then promptly broke lockdown rules again by travelling from his Cheshire home to South Yorkshire to visit family members.

And in a further blunder, Walker subsequently posted a lengthy statement on social media complaining of “harassment” over the reporting of his lockdown breaches.

“I feel as though I have stayed silent long enough,” Walker said of his decision to drive 40 miles to visit his parents in Sheffield, having first dropped in on his sister for a chat and a hug. “What am I meant to do, push her away?”

The Guardian’s sports writer Jonathan Liew summed up the public feeling: “You can’t defend Kyle Walker. A common sentiment, albeit one usually expressed with a comma in the middle.”

Jack Grealish

Aston Villa’s Grealish is another Premier League footballer caught partying during lockdown, in an embarrassing incident weeks before Walker disgraced himself.

Just hours after launching a video appeal in March urging people to follow the then new social distancing measures, Grealish smashed his Range Rover into two parked cars after going to visit a friend, as talkSPORT reported at the time.

The footballer expressed remorse in a video posted on Twitter the following day. “I hope everyone can accept my apology and we can move on from this and hopefully, obviously, in the near future we can all be out and enjoying ourselves again once this has all boiled over,” he said.

Neil Ferguson

Also known as Professor Lockdown, Ferguson was forced to step down as a government advisor after it emerged that he had twice broken lockdown rules by welcoming his married lover into his London home.

Health secretary Matt Hancock told Sky News that Ferguson’s actions were “extraordinary” and that it was “just not possible” for the scientist to continue guiding Downing Street’s social distancing strategy.

However, Scotland Yard has ruled out any legal action against the Imperial College London epidemiologist over his lockdown breach. “It is clear in this case that whilst this behaviour is plainly disappointing, Professor Ferguson has accepted that he made an error of judgment and has taken responsibility for that,” the police force said in a statement.

And while he has been vilified by some commentators, others feel that Ferguson has been treated unfairly - including his mother-in-law, who told the Daily Mail: “He’s working his socks off and this is how he is repaid?”

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“Imagine” celebrities

Just six days into her voluntary coronavirus self-isolation, Wonder Woman actor Gal Gadot organised a gaggle of celebrities to perform John Lennon’s Imagine, in what The New York Times described as a “clusterclump of hyperfamous people with five seconds too much time on their hands”.

The star-studded sing-a-long featured A-listers including Natalie Portman, Mark Ruffalo, Will Ferrell, Amy Adams, Kristen Wiig and Cara Delevingne - but was almost universally panned nevertheless.

Imagine may have met its match,” said the newspaper. “By the end, it has been pummelled and stabbed, disaggregated, stripped for parts and left for trash collection by the side of the highway. It is proof that even if no one meets up in person, horribleness can spread.”

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