OPINION: If Dolly Parton ends coronavirus, I’ll shave my head

Singer Dolly Parton with her arms raised and a cartoon crown floating above her head.
Graphic by Elaine Yang

To anyone who knows me well, it’s not surprising that I have found solace in Dolly Parton during these trying times. Not only did I buy one of those ridiculous little altar candles with her face photoshopped onto it, but I’ve also watched Dolly Parton read various children’s books from Imagination Library during particularly hard times of my current staycation.

It should be equally unsurprising that Dolly Parton just might play a role in ending COVID-19. But it’s not just her morale-boosting bedtime stories, soothing music and coronavirus-specific poem “This Too Shall Pass” that’s making a difference — Miss Dolly is also putting her money where her mouth is. 

Global pharmaceutical company AstraZeneca partnered with Vanderbilt University April 8 to develop a treatment for the virus. Vanderbilt is working to screen the blood of COVID-19 survivors and isolate the antibody-producing white blood cells that can be used to clone potential treatments. AstraZeneca will then take the screened antibodies and choose the best candidates for clinical development.

This partnership is being funded by the Department of Defense, National Institutes of Health and, oh yeah, DOLLY PARTON.

The singer, songwriter, actress, good person and legend has already donated $1 million to the cause. 

I’m proud to be a superfan of a celebrity who has the guts to make a difference and get involved. I believe everyone is trying their best at a time like this, donating what they can and helping when they can, but I also think we could see a lot more celebrities, and other billionaires, make real — monetary — contributions.

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I don’t expect to see Tom Cruise at my local food bank handing out bags of food (if that happened I’d literally faint) but I do expect to see these types of celebrities making contributions to the efforts to find vaccines and cures for COVID-19. There is a small chance that Tom Cruise is a private man and has been donating anonymously, but I have to assume that anyone who is openly a Scientologist is not altogether that shy of a person. 

In addition to the financial contributions Dolly has made, she’s taken a rather introspective and reflective approach to the virus. According to O, The Oprah Magazine, the only news source I truly trust, Dolly is convinced that God brought this virus upon us because “we’ve just gotten so scattered these days, there’s just so much hate and violence, and just people fighting back and forth.”

Dolly continued: “God’s kinda slapping us upside the head and saying, ‘y’all better take a look at yourself,’ … Y’all better take a look at each other, you better try to do a little better.”

While I consider myself to be a devout agnostic, relying solely on karma and Darwinism to guide me through life, and therefore can’t truly support Dolly’s God theory, I do believe there’s a lot of truth in what she’s saying. Now is a time like none other to take some good long looks at yourself and make some changes. I’m going to try to complain less. And I think we could all be nicer and more inclusive.

Dolly Parton is someone I’ve always put a lot of faith into. It comforts me to know that she is investing in solutions to end our pain, and therefore investing in us personally. If my last article on Miss Parton’s triumphs as a philanthropist wasn’t enough to convince you of her power and generosity, her response to coronavirus definitely should be.

Remember that even during the most difficult times, there are people out there, big and small, who care — from frontline workers to Dolly Parton. We will get through this together. As Dolly says, “If you want the rainbow, you gotta put up with the rain!”

Georgia Scott PZ ’23 recommends listening to “Hush-A-Bye Hard Times” by Dolly Parton now, more than ever.

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