On Saturday night, Lady Gaga teamed up with some of the biggest names in music to remind us just how sad we’re supposed to be right now. Gaga, along with Celine Dion, Taylor Swift, John Legend, and three self-admittedly interchangeable late-night Jimmys, pulled audiences through one of the most emotionally dissonant evenings I’ve experienced in recent memory. I suffered through the broadcast with Jezebel staffer Joan Summers, who suggested we watch together and provide an analysis in realtime. This was both a blessing and a complete mistake.
According to Global Citizen, One World: Together At Home raised $127.9 million, with $55.1 million going to the COVID-19 Solidarity Response Fund and $72.8 million going directly to local and regional responders. That’s a very good thing! Arguably, a better thing than anything the U.S. government has accomplished in the last month spent floundering over relief bills for corporations—who really need it most, you know? But alongside the Very Good Deeds from famous people came a heap of tonally inconsistent messages from a group of stars who might as well be aliens. Scenes of embattled essential workers flashed across the screen, while viewers were treated to the sweet—possibly captive—serenades of Camila Cabello and Shawn Mendes. What the fuck—and I cannot stress this enough—did we just watch?
We enter at the tail-end of the six-hour “pre-concert,” which seemed more lively than the main event. You can watch along with us in the video above.
Joan: Garrett... I believe we just watched Jennifer Hudson close out the B-Team concert before the main event? Which cannot possibly be right.
Garrett: It feels, incredibly illegal, to say the least.
Joan: I don’t personally feel ready to sit through two hours of Jimmy Kimmel and the other television Jimmys lecture me about charity while Lady Gaga serenades them on Zoom.
Garrett: My greatest fear is that we’re just getting a Joanne retrospective, which, unfortunately, is where it looks like this is going.
Joan: Garrett, how are we feeling about her Reformation striped pants and red lip? I’m feeling personally attacked that she’s doing jazz at me in this particular outfit. I feel like I’m looking at something I shouldn’t be looking at.
Garrett: Predominantly, I’m curious about the suspenders and whether or not they are from the uniform of a former employee at Joanne Trattoria. Joan, did that make you smile, though?
Joan: It actually made me frown, but I know I’m the bad person because now we’re being given a clip package about teachers and I’m going to start crying—unironically if I need to be clear. Today, I did a caravan train birthday hello for a 6-year old who lives down the street, so this is just doing something to me.
Garrett: I am actually crying right now.
Joan: Okay, I’m back to frowning again. My short, heartfelt moment of genuine compassion ended when I had to look at Stephen Colbert again. While we have a reprieve with this wedding song interlude, can I ask: How do you feel to have learned that Lady Gaga has the same Christmas lights stapled to her wall as your college roommate slash enemy. Not a particular roommate of yours, just to be clear. I’m speaking, of course, about the archetypal college roommate that haunts our post-grad sleep.
Garrett: I feel upset and betrayed, and honestly like I haven’t chilled enough wine to get me through this. I think is this yet another opportunity to look into the homes of the very rich and famous and understand that they actually have no! taste! whatsoever! And that anyone who has been hired to style their homes should immediately be fired. These tassels behind Stevie are, something else.
Joan: Jimmy Kimmel has a tufted, upholstered, dark gray dining room table bench? I think he should be put in a television prison for making me look at that. Also, I’m perplexed about Jimmy Fallon’s same-colored wood interior? Is he in the Hamptons? Where is he?
Garrett: He’s in the Keebler Elf Tree and I won’t hear anything else.
Joan: Paul Mccartney, speaking of people we are looking at right now, has recessed lighting and track lighting. All this money and no interior designers?
Garrett: There was a drought of taste, Joan. I don’t know when, and I don’t know how, but we are seeing the evidence of it live and in color right now. Also, this montage of healthcare workers to Lady Madonna is... something else?
Joan: I’m incredibly confused about what the purpose of this is. Of course, medical workers and essential workers are the only people on my mind right now, but there’s a strange contrast to the images of them juxtaposed with celebrities in these gargantuan mansions? The dissonance of people allowed to stay inside in the very pinnacle of luxury and comfort, while serenading those forced to work out in public? Of course, the short horse we both blog from puts us in the same boat. (I’m no better) It’s just... strange.
Sidenote: Kacey Musgraves is unable to sing louder than her piano. Which is just... huh, okay!
Garrett: I’m devastated by this, as are southern twinks all across the country. I also can’t help but get tired of the forced kind of melancholy everyone is trying to drag out of us so far? If I’m not mistaken, the purpose of this was to give everyone an escape from the reality of what everyone is facing. Not... set it to sad songs?
Joan: Yeah, I’m not loving Coronavirus: The Musical. Also, not so sound like we are poo-pooing it! There are millions (and millions) of dollars worth of medical supplies and aid being funneled through Global Citizen. That’s ostensibly a good thing! But I touched on it earlier: I can’t help but feel exasperated that our mass media defaults to the “we need the big, shiny, rich heroes to save us from the crisis” narrative, over and over and over again.
I am also projecting onto these people who are, I believe, just trying to do what they can. But there is simply no way to watch this and not feel full of despair!
Garrett: Oh absolutely! I’m only on board with most of this. It just isn’t making me feel any better. But maybe it will soon! Abby the Muppet from Sesame Street was honestly super encouraging, and I would like to hear more from her.
Joan: Yeah, please put the Muppet back on. The coronavirus advertisements from G&E and Proctor & Gamble during the commercial breaks are not what we need right now. WAIT! Victoria Beckham is here? Her YouTube channel might be dead, but I’m glad to see she’s still finding ways to keep herself busy in these trying times.
Garrett: I can never forgive her for stopping Yet Another Spice Girls Reunion, but I am glad to see she’s still never learned what to do with her hands.
Joan: Now Elton John is here with the high production value, reminding us that even in the most well-intentioned charity efforts of the ruling class, there is an implicit hierarchy.
Garrett: Elton John did not produce his own autobiographical movie musical to be outplayed by his piano!
Joan: I’m looking at a basketball court in Elton John’s patio, and I want to ask if you truly believe Elton John plays basketball? Where are those two basketballs from?
Garrett: The two just sitting there are sending me. There’s no way he knows that they’re there!
Joan: Moving on, and this is not the point of any of this, but Maluma looks incredibly hot right now.
Garrett: It’s not the point but also is he lip syncing?
Joan: I appreciate that he chose to film this in profile? Oh, I see what’s going on Garrett: His window is the size of our apartment wall because he’s rich, so it looks like he’s outside but is really inside. I was wondering why he sounded so echo-y.
Garrett: Chris Martin is really making the rounds on the at-home performance circuit, he was just the SNL at-home special guest. Do you think this will become the new tour circut?
Joan: Well, I’m sure more people are watching his concerts for free than paying to look at them. Now we’re hearing from more essential workers, and I appreciate that they’re highlighting the intense crisis faced by youth in shelters right now. Our colleague Rich spoke with a shelter earlier this week, the Ali Forney Shelter, about this: How One Center for Vulnerable LGBTQ+ Youth Is Helping Its Clients During the Pandemic.
Moving swiftly on, because Camila Cabello and Shawn Mendes are tormenting us right now, I’m glad they found a way to not be bored! As I’ve already told you all, they’ve been somewhat suffering this last month while cooped up together in Coral Gables.
Garrett: I do think it’s just hard to watch a lot of predominately white, overwhelmingly rich people pivot from talking to two women of color on the front lines of this crisis to Camilla and Shawn sing “It’s a Wonderful World.”
Joan: Yeah, that transition was particularly rough. I’d rather we stick to talking to those women who are quite literally risking their health and family’s safety to help the homeless! But what a transition! Beyoncé is here now. IS...... BEYONCÉ NOT GOING TO SING? I am afraid that she is, in fact, not going to sing. But also I respect that for her.
Garrett: While this very sad organ plays behind us, I just think it’s worth mentioning here that everyone keeps referring to the “heroes” on the front lines, like delivery workers, and grocery store cashiers, and I just always feel like that’s a way to celebrate them without actually paying them a living wage??
Joan: I laugh so that I don’t throw myself through my living room window and just tumble down into the street and take off running, screaming, and crying. By the way, while we’re on the topic, did you just see the bug at the end of Eddie Vedder’s segment thanking... PEPSICO?
Garrett: Stop Calling Essential Employees Heros and Just Pay Them More Money.
Joan: PepsiCo Thanks Our Heroic Essential Workers for Continuing to Stock Our Sodas.
Garrett: What I will say is that this is the best and most efficient live-stream of anything I’ve seen since social distancing thus far!
Joan: Are they using Zoom? The orchestration of this is bonkers. I’m sure that the producer will win an Emmy for it.
Garrett: Is this how Lady Gaga EGOTs?
Joan: The doctor from Mt. Sinai telling Stephen Colbert, “If you’re not there to hold your mother’s hand, I am,” completely, and utterly, broke me. As an antidote to the soul-crushing interviews with doctors, this made me scream so loudly my husband came running:
Garrett: That has now thrown me out of my living room window, goodbye!
Joan: I can’t stick any more pizza rolls into my mouth to stress-eat my way through this. Unsurprisingly, this concert has only made me feel worse. Now, Alicia Keys just told me to “keep my frequency high.” How, Alicia? HOW?
Garrett: The idea that we just heard a call for a global ceasefire on a massive Zoom call organized by Lady Gaga—2020 is really trying to do it. What it is exactly, I don’t know. But she’s trying!
Joan: As the Rolling Stones are reminding us now, “You can’t always get what you want!”
Garrett: Ronnie Wood’s home decor is really something else. How many fake plants are you required to buy once you turn 45?
Joan: I had to Google who Ronnie Wood was because I am actually 12 years old and don’t know what a Rolling Stone is.
Garrett: It makes me feel better to know that I, too, Googled Rolling Stone members to identify him, because it makes me feel closer to you historic youth.
Joan: This would probably be much more enjoyable if it wasn’t haunted by the Television Jimmies. Okay, I’m back to feeling worse again.
The video image of them wheeling the hospital worker who “succumbed” to covid-19 down the hallway under a sheet is probably going to haunt me for the rest of my life. It feels distasteful to show that right before Keith Urban starts singing?
Garrett: Yeah, I don’t think I’m going to recover from that for a while. It’s also just another reminder that most of the people who we’ve seen them talk to tonight are women of color who are running the front lines of this. I can’t believe that “Higher Love” is what they felt the appropriate follow up was. Is this THREE KEITH URBANS?
Joan: How are we just supposed to keep going after that? What are we supposed to do after that? Everything about this live-stream feels so disjointed and brutal?
Garrett: There’s a level of tone-deafness about this now that is just glaring and deeply upsetting.
Joan: Even this discussion feels tone deaf! Watching this feels just as bad! Julianne texted me this, and it feels applicable: “The big takeaway here is that famous people are fucking aliens.”
Garrett: 100 percent.
Joan: Now, more than ever, I wish I wasn’t a UFO conspiracy theorist.
Garrett: I think it’s an unimaginable thing to try and string any of this together in a coherent way that does justice to the individual segments, which is maybe why people don’t need to do it!
Joan: Oh, speaking of bad things, reminder that Bill Gates has more money than everyone we know, everyone they know, and everyone those people know, and he thinks he can get on television and lecture us about what we need to do right now! Wait, did Oprah turn the books on her shelves around or all of her books.... white spined? I cannot, for the life of me, tell. Are you looking at this?
Garrett: I’m getting so close to the screen to try and see what the truth is here. I think they are not the spines of her books, and Oprah does, in fact, keep her books turned... backward? Also, don’t forget in all of this, Billie Eilish is yet to come, and I think that is really where I’m going to lose all faith. I don’t know where you’re streaming this right now, but on YouTube, half of all comments have been people screaming “BILLIE!” for the entire hour-and-a-half thus far, which leads me to believe most people aren’t getting the point of it. Thankfully, Jennifer Lopez has saved us from Bill Gates and Oprah’s books to sing about Barbra Streisand’s horniness. The one thing Jennifer Lopez has realized during this time is how much we all need each other!
Joan: Who do you think wrapped that stump behind Jennifer Lopez in Christmas lights?
Garrett: I would love to believe it was A-Rod in my heart of hearts.
Joan: Does J. Lo know this song is actually about being horny for a swindler who ruins your life and career? Is she sending us a message about A-Rod? Anyway, obviously Barbra did it better:
Moving on: There’s something particularly dystopic about Awkwafina telling us to call our loved ones before they die alone in the hospital after J. Lo just did bad Barbra karaoke. Oh, Garrett... I have to leave. John Legend is singing in front of his Grammys now. I gotta go. I’m walking out of the house and never coming back. Oh, Sam Smith just popped by to make it worse.
Garrett: If it makes you feel worse, I think he might be singing in front of his EGOT collection. Meanwhile, Sam Smith is wearing a single Air Pod.
Joan: Good to know that Chrissy is still washing John’s turtlenecks, even in social isolation. Also, Sam Smith has their shirt unbuttoned to their underwear and I just want to ask if you think that was their personal styling decision.
Garrett: Who gave Billie Joe Armstrong the right to sing “Wake Me Up When September Ends,” during Coronavirus: The Musical? It is exactly what I said to my friend when I got off the phone last night in an ironic moment of despair because I felt like that was when we would be able to go outside and be together again. Now, this feels like incredibly terrifying foreshadowing. Listening to Billie Joe Armstrong sing “Wake Me Up When September Ends” over shots of empty cities far too on the nose! To make it worse, Target just announced they were raising their employees’ wages! It took a global pandemic for this billion-dollar company to come closer to paying its employees fairly?
Joan: I was going to say something snarky about the court of public opinion, but in a rare moment, I think I am going to keep it to myself. I hope those workers are well protected and taken care of, and I hope we do not take our eyes off corporations looking to gut benefits and lay working-class people off in droves right now. Moving on: Out of all the songs you expected Billie Eilish to sing, did you think: SUNNY?
Garrett: I was honestly expecting her to sing “Bad Guy” with the reveal being that covid-19 is the baddest guy of all, and yet, here we are. Unable to hear a single word of, I believe you said this was “Sunny.”
Joan: Yes, it’s important to note that, like Kacey Musgraves, Billie Eilish cannot sing louder than her piano. Anyway, Taylor Swift is here now. Garrett, be very careful what we say next about Taylor Swift lest we have to go into witness protection. I’ll start: Her wallpaper looks very expensive!
Garrett: I also like that you can see the reflection in the piano, the staging is lovely!
Joan: Great gowns, beautiful gowns!
Garrett: Her bangs absolutely look better than mine would if I were to try and cut them on my own, which is no small feat!
Joan: She just said, “I hate to make this all about me.” Which is exactly what I was about to say! I’m so grateful she’s on the same page with us right now; really thoughtful of her.
Garrett: And now she’s ended it, which is equally thoughtful!
Joan: I don’t think I’m going to recover from this. From any of this. I feel... completely and utterly destroyed. So Garrett, do you feel better? Are you invigorated? How “relieved” are you by the relief concert? Myself, I’m glad that I was forced to witness the horrors of our fucked up medical system, and the unjust violence it’s inflicted on essential workers across the county. We cannot, now or ever, look away from it. But the entire experience was so tonally inconsistent, and at times cruel. Celebrities really are fucking aliens!
Garrett: On a scale from one to 10, I would say that I’m hovering around a two, and earlier today I was at a six, and so I can’t say with any certainty this has done anything other than reinforcing the fact that rich people have no idea what is going on with the rest of the world. However! I am very glad to have seen so much attention given to people on the frontlines, and for some of these rich people finally taking money out of their own pockets and giving it away! Although that itself is a reminder of the failure of our government to adequately support its citizens! There is no way to win! Can we bring back Abby the muppet?