Beware the celebrity Ukraine cringe post
Stars from John Cena to Andy Cohen have already stepped in it amid international strife. Who’s next?
Actor and wrestler John Cena already had to apologize for a Ukraine tweet.
Actor and wrestler John Cena already had to apologize for a Ukraine tweet. [ LUIS SANTANA | Times ]
Published Mar. 1|Updated Mar. 1

The following first appeared in Stephinitely, a weekly newsletter from columnist Stephanie Hayes featuring a bonus column and behind-the-scenes chatter. To get it in your inbox every Monday, subscribe here.

The world is in a crisis as Russia attacks Ukraine. It’s heartbreaking to watch people flee amid explosions and violence. And it’s normal to feel helpless and drawn to say something, anything, to show we care.

That, unfortunately, brings us to celebrities. Take that feeling of unease and multiply it one-thousand-fold, and you will know the insatiable urge of Celebrity Sharing. Whenever a major geopolitical event unfolds, famous people can’t stay away from the enormous CRINGE POST lever locked behind glass. Celebrities will be all, “Look, a spider!” And the people hired to stop them from doing anything regrettable will be distracted while the star breaks the glass with a vape pen from a T-Mobile party swag bag.

There’s a difference between genuine celebrity activism — people with platforms pointing followers to vetted resources — and cringe posts. The latter is akin to walking into a knife fight and throwing glitter. It reminds me of the time a friend and I sprayed our dead insect science project with Bath and Body Works Sun-Ripened Raspberry Body Splash, just to lessen the stench. There! Fixed it!

Must we recall the Imagine video? At the outset of the COVID-19 pandemic, Gal Gadot spearheaded virtual karaoke to John Lennon’s most optimistic tune, looping in Natalie Portman, Jimmy Fallon and more to sing painfully out of tune lines in selfie mode. Rich people crooning about living as one while everyday people were gripped by fear and death? Awkward!

For this disaster, we got Bravo eminence Andy Cohen, who often manages to be charming and cringe-resistant, even when drunk on live television. However, we all fall down. As violence erupted in Ukraine, he shared a Wordle screen via Instagram stories with the word PEACE.

Andy! Do not bring Wordle into the world…le! The populace has agreed that Wordle is a place to retreat amid the incomprehensible, be it global affairs or the fact that a work deadline is looming and we have not even opened the file. Wordle is not for diplomacy. Wordle is to S-T-A-L-L. Wordle is to W-A-S-T-E T-I-M-E… um… T-O-M… T-A-Y-E… ugh, anyway.

Next on our tour is wrestler-turned-actor John Cena, who plays a comic book character called Peacemaker in Suicide Squad and on a self-titled HBO show. He tweeted: “If I could somehow summon the powers of a real life #Peacemaker I think this would be a great time to do so.”

Ah, the grand tradition of celebrities thinking they could achieve world peace, if only they or their Spandex-clad alter egos had the chance. It segues nicely into the theories of AnnaLynne McCord. She is from Nip/Tuck and the 90210 reboot. She was also in a movie titled … wait for it … Tone-Deaf.

In reaction to the Russian invasion, she filmed herself reading original poetry. To wit:

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“Dear President Vladimir Putin, I’m so sorry that I was not your mother. If I was your mother, you would have been so loved. Held in the arms of joyous light. Never would this story’s plight. The world unfurled before our eyes. A pure demise of a nation sitting peaceful under a night sky.”

Firstly, what’s it like to sit around and think about being Vladimir Putin’s mother? That’s honestly not something I have ever thought about being. Secondly, this reminds me of a deranged college ethics class question about being Hitler’s mother. Why do mothers always have to be the ones responsible for saving the world from autocratic tyrants? Where are the dads?!

Thirdly, I publicly admit to having composed bad wartime poetry. I was 18 on Sept. 11, 2001. There was no getting around it. I was in a glass case of emotion, and the only saving grace for me as I sit here today is that no one knew who I was.

It is fine to linger by candlelight and reflect poetically in a journal, but it is also fine to gently close the journal, shelve it, and call your representatives to encourage continued sanctions. The process is not pretty, but it’s better than body spray on bugs.

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