By: Rajini KG
February 6 2023
There is no substantial evidence to corroborate Hollywood celebrities called for a total strike until everyone gets vaccinated against COVID-19.
The conspiracy blog NewsPunch claimed in an article that celebrities were calling for a "total Hollywood strike" until everyone in the film industry was vaccinated. According to the article, "The group of liberal Hollywood celebrities asserts that it speaks for 'humanity's better nature.'" A Facebook post sharing the image and a link to the article claims that in an effort to persuade "vaccine dodgers" to get the shot, celebrities like Rosie O'Donnell, Jennifer Aniston, Gwyneth Paltrow, and Gene Simmons have joined a month-long strike. The image in the NewsPunch article also contains a screenshot of a purported tweet by The Academy (Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences), which states, "We support Hollywood striking until EVERYONE is vaccinated."
However, this claim is false.
The claim first surfaced in an article published by NewsPunch and alleged that a spokesperson of the group of celebrities said in a press release, "We're calling for a general strike that would include every single person involved in making motion pictures in Hollywood, starting with the actors and celebrities themselves and encompassing companies in charge of making props, movie memorabilia, and even souvenir shops." However, the article by NewsPunch does not give a lot of information about who the group of celebrities is. Most of the quotes have been attributed to an anonymous spokesperson, but no official release or statement by any group of celebrities indicates a strike.
Additionally, the tweet attributed to The Academy, which has been added to the image within the NewsPunch article, has been fabricated. The screenshot of the tweet has been digitally manipulated, and the date and time of the tweet are not visible. The text of the screenshot is also different from that seen on Twitter, with an unusual gap between the handle of the Twitter account and the tweet text. Logically screened the official Twitter account of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, as well as its digital press kit shared by The Academy with Logically from January 25 to January 31, 2023. There is no indication that the tweet in question, a similar one, or any press release has been and about this alleged strike. In an email response, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences said, "This is a false claim and by no means an official Academy tweet."
The NewsPunch article claims that actor Jennifer Aniston led this strike by threatening not to speak to her friends again unless they were vaccinated against COVID-19. Jennifer Aniston has clarified that she cut off unvaccinated friends in 2021. According to the BBC, Aniston posted on Instagram in August 2021 that she "lost a few people from [her] weekly routine" who had decided against getting a COVID-19 jab, adding, "Because if you have the variant, you are still able to give it to me." Following that, in her interview with InStyle she said, "I've just lost a few people in my weekly routine who have refused or did not disclose [whether or not they had been vaccinated], and it was unfortunate. I feel it's your moral and professional obligation to inform, since we're not all podded up and being tested every single day." Thus, she did cut off a few unvaccinated friends in 2021, but there are no reports of Aniston taking part in a "total Hollywood strike."
The article also claims that KISS musical group frontman Gene Simmons called unvaccinated people his "enemy." According to Forbes, Simmons gave this statement while participating in TalkShopLive, with host Steve Harkins. He said, "If you're willing to walk among us unvaccinated, you are an enemy.” He added that "getting the COVID-19 vaccine may be a 'personal choice' if you happen to live on an island all by yourself and, more importantly, stay on that island. Otherwise, as long as you have a nose and mouth and interact with people without wearing a face mask, whether you get vaccinated is a decision for everyone around you." During his interview, he suggested people get vaccinated to be protected against the coronavirus. He did not mention joining a planned strike or protest against unvaccinated people.
Logically also found that the phrase "total Hollywood strike" was used previously in 2017. We found users who cited the screenshot of an article from Your News Wire titled "Celebrities Call For 'Total Hollywood Strike' Until Trump Resigns." The website rating site Media Bias Fact Check (MBFC) has categorized Your News Wire under "Conspiracy-Pseudoscience" and states that the website now redirects to the NewsPunch website. Snopes has separately debunked an article published by The Rightists on January 6, 2017, titled "Celebrities Call For A Massive, All-Round Strike In Hollywood Until The Fascist Trump Resigns." Many users on social media shared the article. Snopes called it pure fiction.
It is to be noted that NewsPunch is known for spreading misinformation and publishing unverified claims. The website rating site Media Bias Fact Check (MBFC) has categorized NewsPunch as a "Questionable Source" and noted that it "has zero credibility due to the routine publishing of fake news."
There is no evidence that Hollywood celebrities called for a complete strike until everyone gets vaccinated against COVID-19. The NewsPunch headline and the screenshots being shared online have no basis in truth. Therefore, we are marking this claim as false.
The COVID-19 pandemic has given rise to a lot of potentially dangerous misinformation. For reliable advice on COVID-19, including symptoms, prevention, and available treatment, please refer to the World Health Organization or your national healthcare authority.