Wednesday, June 10, 2020

If over 270 million people worldwide could watch something “together,” what should it be? In a period of enforced physical distancing, what claims to collectivity are being made on behalf of the livestream?

The Together at Home Instagram Live campaign is a particularly high-profile example of a new genre of online pandemic entertainment. The musical performance series was organized by Global Citizen, an international non-profit that describes itself as “a movement of engaged citizens who are using their collective voice to end extreme poverty by 2030,” and inaugurated with a performance by the organization’s festival curator and Coldplay frontman Chris Martin. Building on the extreme popularity of these Instagram Live performances, the organization quickly pivoted to planning a larger event in support of COVID-19 relief.

This subsequent relief event came to be titled One World: Together at Home. The spectacle consisted of a six-hour livestream “pre-show” on Saturday, April 18th, 2020, av...

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