COVID-19 Culture is the Worst in Human History

Here are some lowlights

At the beginning of the COVID-19 era, nine weeks that feels like nine years ago, they told us that we were about to see a great flowering of the arts unlike any in human history. It would make the Renaissance look like the Fyre Festival. Italians sang opera from their balconies to their suffering neighbors. Shakespeare wrote King Lear while hiding from the plague.

Instead, human society has spent this period of time with its collective index finger up its nose. Those of us not waiting in bread lines, dying on ventilators, or screaming at one another on Twitter have endured the dumbest cultural output of all time. There have been so many lowlights it’s impossible to list them all. Forget COVID toes. We all have COVID brain. When the best cultural thing to come out of a period is videos of Arnold Schwarzenegger talking to a mini-donkey, you know you’re in trouble. Here’s a selective list of the horrors.

The “Imagine” Video



Like the firing on Fort Sumter, this monstrosity hit us all as we retreated, terrified, into our rabbit warrens. Gal Gadot, Wonder Woman herself, thought it would be a good idea to have a bunch of rich celebrities do an off-key rendition of John Lennon’s Imagine. If it hadn’t occurred to us before, we suddenly realized that famous people were all assholes who aren’t actually our friends. Every single person who appeared in this horror show lost my respect immediately. And suddenly I knew we were in for a long, terrible baseball-free slog.

The WHO Benefit Concert


Lady Gaga’s “Together At Home” concert to benefit the WHO combined all the worst entertainment elements of the COVID era: celebrity noblesse oblige, poor sound quality, and hypocritical politics meant to “unite us in our respective homes.” Half of the “artists” in the concert were celebrities like Heidi Klum, Don Cheadle, and Tim Gunn making sad pleas to support front-line workers. And many of the musical artists who did appear delivered glum, short sets that were about as inspiring as the music coming out of a hotel piano bar.

For a brief moment there, we were all modestly excited about the opportunity to see our favorite musical artists streaming for free. But then we quickly realized that they were sad and many of them were old and we had to listen to them through our phones. And they were playing from their living rooms. If they seemed to have more available space, like, say, Mick Jagger, then we hated them because they were rich.

Tiger King

We all had a good laugh gawking at the Red State idiots in this Netflix documentary about animal torture. While certainly well-made and suspenseful, Tiger King was hardly some sort of Yankee Doodle Dandy rally around collective purpose. The perfect reflection of our grim, nihilistic, end-timey nightmare, Tiger King would have been a blip on the radar if COVID hadn’t summarily ended all movies and sports forever. Screw this show, I hated it and everyone in it.


This streaming app whose signature show features Chrissy Teigen as a judge is dying a slow, horrible death because no one wants to watch its crap, late-to-the-party content. New Reno 911 episodes are going to fall down the rabbit hole as sadly as the sixth season of Community on Yahoo! Screen. A perfect metaphor for entertainment in the COVID era, Quibi features a bunch of garbage that no one asked for and no one will miss when it’s gone.

The Parks And Recreation “Special”

No one wants to say it because our brains have become collective mush, but the last few seasons of Parks and Recreation were pretty bad. A show that began as a cynical takedown of liberal government do-gooderism degenerated into a huggy feel-good soap opera where everyone got married. This hastily-thrown-together special  was a flaccid sop to traumatized blue-staters trapped in their apartments by government edict. It’s a sitcom version of the Imagine video, exemplified by Retta happily singing along to the Bye Bye Little Sebastian song inside her voluminous shoe closet. Shame on everyone involved in this unfunny fan service.

Talk-Show Hosts At Home

Trevor Noah and Bill Maher have been pretty good, but the rest of the late-night hosts at home feel like tap-dancing on the deck of the Titanic. I don’t want to hear James Corden sing another note ever again. Screw Jimmy Fallon’s smug skitifying. No one likes this content. Leave us alone.

Trolls World Tour and Scoobs

I’ve been spared the worst of quarantine kid culture because my son is 17 years old now and more or less consumes the same garbage that adults do, like Narcos and Shameless, while doing an endless number of pushups in his bedroom. But BFG contributor Omar Gallaga pointed out to me that the studios have used this time to force parents to pony up $20 to watch terrible kid-centric fare like Trolls World Tour and the nasty-looking Scooby Doo movie. We’re trapped in our virus holes watching bad semi-ironic cartoon movies. And then it’s noon. What are we going to do now?

Disney Sing-Alongs

Jesus on a popsicle stick, we are all going to die and the last thing we’re ever going to see is Katy Perry performing Baby Mine from Dumbo while dressed as an elephant, accompanied by her poodle Nugget, who is also dressed as an elephant.

Celebrity Hand-Washing Tik Toks

Credit: Gloria Gaynor/Instagram

At the moment I saw this, I kind of enjoyed Gloria Gaynor washing her hands to the tune of “I Will Survive,” but the more I think about it, the more pathetic I realize it actually is. Will we really survive? How about a video of Gloria Gaynor wearing a mask and wearing in line for a $20 food coupon or desperately trying to find a Coronavirus antibody test?

The Facebook Hug Emoji


Are we really all in this together? Are we, though? We’re obviously not. Are you spying on me?

The Cuomo Brothers Variety Hour


In what passes for entertainment in this misbegotten age, we get to watch these jamokes bolster their family reputations while making jokes about mom’s spaghetti. The crisis certainly dealt Andrew Cuomo a rough hand, but his nursing-home policy, to say the least, leaves something to be desired. And Chris Cuomo handled his COVID struggles like a diseased clown. While sickened proles struggled to find pulse oximeters at the local Walgreens, he moaned about a chipped tooth, ate gourmet meals catered by his Goop-i-fied wife, yelled at a bicyclist on Long Island while he was supposed to be in quarantine, and “emerged from his basement” in the most staged news event since Geraldo opened Al Capone’s vault. I would say a pox on their houses, but the pox has already come a-callin’.

Donald Trump’s Corona Rallies

And let’s not forget the highest-rated program during all of this, the President’s daily COVID-19 briefings that made stars out of a couple of medical bureaucrats and, most importantly, brought Donald Trump the spotlight that he craves more than my dog craves cookies after we walk her. Trump spent countless hours yelling at liberal journalists, spreading lies and misinformation, and saying all kinds of stupid crap. Finally, they canceled the show after he inadvertently advised Americans to inject disinfectant to heal themselves from this virus. What an idiot. What a country!

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Neal Pollack

Book and Film Globe Editor in Chief Neal Pollack is the author of 12 semi-bestselling books of fiction and nonfiction, including the memoirs Alternadad and Stretch, the novels Repeat and Downward-Facing Death, and the cult classic The Neal Pollack Anthology of American Literature. A Rotten Tomatoes certified reviewer for both film and television, Neal has written articles and humor for every English-language publication except The New Yorker. Neal lives in Austin, Texas, and is a three-time Jeopardy! champion.

2 thoughts on “COVID-19 Culture is the Worst in Human History

  • August 7, 2022 at 4:05 pm

    Thee absolute most ignorant, disgustingly self pitying bs I’ve ever read. Was hoping it was satirical.

  • August 19, 2022 at 12:36 pm

    It just wouldn’t be a real article without bashing Trump and Red states huh? Good thing you saved the Trump bashing for last or I wouldn’t have been privy to all your wit in the first 3/4 of the article. 🤗


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