Features Published 15 April 2020

Celebrity Coronavirus Videos, Reviewed

Exeunt’s writers pen micro-reviews of the tone-deaf, delightful, or dazzlingly weird video art created by celebrities under lockdown.

Exeunt Staff

Celebrities might fondly imagine, as they sit in their comfortable mansions, that they’ll escape the judgement of their humble, lockdown-harried fans. They’re wrong. We’ve dived into the low-production-values, also low-self-awareness world of corona-content to bring you these reviews of their most unlikely creative outpourings – ranked from worst to best.

Madonna revisits her back catalogue

Madonna’s ‘Fried Fish’ Vogue
Reviewed by: Naomi Obeng

Look, we’ve all done the trying-on-different-hats thing, the one where we wonder if our crazy unfiltered thoughts might just be what signposts us as the sought-after Online Authentic in Big Neon. Alas, not unlike Lana Del Rey in her famed SNL debut, the result for Madonna is that she currently appears to be three different artists trying to sing from inside one awkward off-balance person. At least Lana now has a coherent aesthetic identity, whereas watching Madonna sing about fried fish in her weirdly cluttered marble bathroom runs the full cycle from wtf-ery to maybe this is meta, to of course she’s high, to do we have another Britney situation on our hands and who do we need to call to get her set free?

Where to begin with the details of this masterpiece. The clutter of her bathroom, stressfully littered with small bottles on every surface. The camera person who can be glimpsed in the mirror at the end of these heady delectable few seconds. The fact that this whole thing is not a hasty 3am get your phone out situation, but involves an actual video camera and professional lighting. The Hairbrush?? And, taking a step back, this is perhaps conclusive evidence that Madonna has indeed forgotten how to sing. At last.

“Come on Vogue…*twirls*…*stumbles*…I mean…go.” Even she isn’t convinced by her own fantasy, so how are we supposed to buy it? What kind of fried fish Madonna? What does there being no pasta have to do with frying fish? Are you so far removed from human nourishment that you think fish is a carb? Fish isn’t a carb Madonna. Fish is not a carb.

(I keep having to check how to spell Madonna. The word has lost all meaning, it is the brittle sliver of a nearly finished polo mint. Much like Madonna.) The thing I love the most about this video is that flash of glee on her face right before she launches into her final strangled “Fried Fiiish”, where she looks so pleased at the thought of the stunning finale she’s about to bless her socials with. And I….oop.

Rating: One prawn short of a seafood platter

 

Imagine.

Gal Gadot’s Imagine
Reviewed by Eve AllinGal Gadot’s viral video, which spliced together rich celebrities sitting at weird angles singing John Lennon’s ‘Imagine’ into the camera, was last week’s (feels like last year’s) controversial hot topic. Apart from the obviously uncomfortable and deeply ironic experience of watching A-List stars sing about having no possessions on Very Expensive Sofas, the video was also just…bad. The gaps in between each clip felt many years too long, and the acapella didn’t do the pacing or awkwardness any favours. Everyone was on a different tempo and they were all trying to show off their runs (even if they pretended they weren’t). I imagine that as Gal Gadot put the 3 minute film together in iMovie, she didn’t anticipate such a vigorous backlash. But then again, we didn’t anticipate a global pandemic.Rating: A+ for effort, C- minus for singing skills, F for self awareness

Jennifer Ehle, in Pride & Prejudice

Pride, Prejudice and Ehle
Reviewed by: Louise DunnFor everyone finding the social isolation, hours to journal and forbidden contact with romantic prospects a positively Austen-esque experience, Jennifer Ehle’s IG feed will scratch an itch. Ehle who received a BAFTA for her portrayal as Lizzy Bennett in *the* defining adaptation (sorry 2005 fans) is reading Pride & Prejudice in full.Donning big owl spectacles and occasionally querying a pronunciation, Ehle’s readings aren’t exactly polished but they feel so cosy. There’s an instant connection to the TV series from hearing her Lizzy, and yet now we know Ehle would make a fantastically annoying Caroline Bingley too. As someone who hasn’t been read in yonks, it made me feel like a child tucked up in bed.

Rating: Nine artfully dishevelled straw bonnets out of ten

Arnie, Whiskey, Lulu


Arnie’s Farm
Reviewed by: Alice Saville

Sometimes I think dreamily of the things I could have done in the before-times to make my present life more pleasant. Not the big stuff like securing permanent salaried employment (ha ha ha ha ha) but small domestic things; a houseplant here, a bath pillow there, a menagerie of animal friends nuzzling my feet.

Arnold Schwarzenegger basically has the ideal coronavirus crib; his periodic self-isolation videos star a miniature donkey called Lulu and a tiny horse called Whiskey, who seem to live inside his actual house. They collaborate on videos that feel like dispatches from a parallel universe, one where a retired Terminator with a stunningly resilient accent and two equine wives is the lifestyle guru of a nation; “We don’t go out.” He says, with winning simplicity. “We don’t go to restaurants. We don’t do anything like that any more here. We just eat with Whiskey and with Lulu. We have a good time.” The memory of his Republican political career is an unpleasant addendum to all this cosiness, like a miniature horse poo plopping onto the middle of a dry-clean-only cashmere rug.

Rating: six juicy carrots out of seven, plus a delicious scritch behind the ears

Florence Pugh plays Delia Smith


Florence Pugh makes butternut squash soup
Reviewed by: Hannah Greenstreet

In hard times, we reach for comfort food and what could be more comforting than soup? A soup tutorial by star of Little Women and Lady Macbeth, Florence Pugh. The video, one of a series of cooking demonstrations on her instagram, is a mashup between a Blue Peter video and Ready Steady Cook. Pugh provides a running commentary: she washes her squashes because she found them ‘on the floor in a shop’; roasted garlic is like ‘savoury sweets’. Wobbly pieces to camera, featuring an Oscar-worthy range of facial expressions, are spliced with closeups of the food – homely rather than the poised fare you normally get on cooking shows. The soup, sprinkled with a garnish of fried chorizo and potatoes, actually looks very nice and, if you can get your hands on a couple of butternut squashes, easy to cook at home. At over 20 minutes, the show ran too long for my depleted attention-span, but a sense of jeopardy is introduced in the fourth act: will Pugh burn her fingers on the butternut squash pieces she’s just taken out of the oven? You’ll have to watch to find out.

Come Dine With Me rating: 8/10

Withnail & Isolation
Reviewed by: Lily Levinson

Since 20th March Richard E Grant has been making little videos in which he acts out a line from Withnail & I, the film that made his career. The first videos, made in the week that the UK lockdown was first announced, are a tad unsophisticated – he does the line, in his excellent plummy voice, while wrapped in a duvet – but they’ve gradually become more elaborate, and are now set in (socially distant) approximations of the film’s original locations.

Although I generally prefer his earlier, pre-virus work, such as the Barbra Streisand SculptureThe Ritz, Baby!, and the optimistic New Year’s Day 2020, it doesn’t really matter because the Withnail videos still feature the classic element that made me start following Grant on social media in the first place. At the end of each one, he bursts into a giggle that seems disproportionate to its actual funniness, and more just born of pure joy at the absurdity of what he’s doing – which is making a little video. He just bloody loves making a little video. It absolutely cracks him up every time. Come rain, come shine, come global pandemic, his utter delight in little videos endures.

Rating: The finest wine available to humanity

http://www.instagram.com/p/B98R4YBhpHt/?utm_source=ig_web_copy_link

Caroline Calloway’s Berghain tripping, kitten quarantining and Natalie rehashing
Reviewed by: Frey Kwa Hawking

Like many, I unexpectedly found myself at some point in the corner of this self-mythologising-marketer-extraordinaire. It doesn’t matter that I don’t rate her art, and find her enthusiasm for Cambridge and upper-class British shit suspect and weird! Caroline’s uniquely powerful at making her audience feel invested in her almost against their will, at convincing them they’re party to things about her and seeing things they shouldn’t behind the curtain somehow, even if they haven’t forked out for a Cameo ($50), or access to her Close Friends list ($2 per month).  

Her recent trip to Berlin, which allowed her to drip-feed us details of her apparent admittance to Berghain in some cheekily appropriate/offensive attire, culminated in a mad dash back to America before flights were stopped. It was a interdisciplinary meeting of Instagram stories and metanarrative retweeting of probably at least two of your gay friends, though with a late-stage introduction of a minor character which felt hasty to some (we don’t care about the white Soundcloud boy she pulled in the club!!). Now she’s being motorboated by kittens, displaying her bougie quarantine grocery lists (“more yellow heirloom tomatoes”), and publishing a response to the tell-all published last year by ex-friend-and-coworker Natalie in The Cut, in three parts. While I personally think it’d be wiser for Caroline to let the Natalie plotline go (not sure it’s ever going to look exactly good) she’s pledged to donate 100% of the – so far, apparently substantial – profits from her fans buying this essay to a charity helping with coronavirus. And now, she’s even extending her substantial anti-viral efforts to a fundraising OnlyFans ($50 per month!!!). Chaotic good, bad and neutral all in one.

Directed by: Caroline Calloway
Designed by: Caroline Calloway
Written by: Caroline Calloway (?)
Cast includes: Caroline Calloway, the colour turquoise, Bernie Sanders, Caroline’s grandma, lesbian humour TikToks, some guy called Darcy, Siamese kittens

BODY COUNT: 21/21

BBC’s Doctor Who

Russell T Davies and Steven Moffat Doctor Who tweet-alongs

Reviewed by: Emily Davis

Russell T Davies and Steven Moffat have opened temporary accounts and live-tweeted watch-alongs of Doctor Who episodes, including Day of the Doctor, Rose and Eleventh Hour.

It’s great, because they’re both just SO into it. They’re these massive Who nerds just freaking out about how much they love the show . They may as well have tweeted I Fucking Love Doctor Who 60 times each.

By necessity, these watchalongs (organised by https://twitter.com/LockdownWho) are an exercise devoid of cynicism. And I’ve really needed that in these weeks. You’re just gathering for love of a thing, and connecting to people who love it as much as you. I don’t know what to tell you, I just fucking love Doctor Who!

Rating: infinity out of timey wimey

If this piece has infuriated you with its frivolity in a time of global crisis, please read Exeunt’s three part series on British and European models, dramaturgy and aesthetics.

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Exeunt Staff is a contributor to Exeunt Magazine

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