The Feminist in the Fancy Dress

Maureen O’Connor’s New York Magazine article, “It’s Not Sexist to Ask About Clothes on the Red Carpet,” refutes the necessity of the #AskHerMore campaign–a movement, sparked by Cate Blanchett’s retort to E! reporters when asked about her dress: “do you do this to guys?” The entire premise of the campaign is that the actresses should not be grilled about what they are wearing–and the accompanying superficiality or materialistic quality of that line of questioning–but rather on what their goals are for their careers. Rightfully, this is dismissive of an entire industry that is powered by women and also is a way of minimizing the art and quality that goes into the fashion that is on display. The Academy Awards are often dismissed and trivialized, but as O’Connor rightly points out, it truly is all about the fantasy and the story the clothing tells is the story of the actresses themselves:

“Lupita Nyong’o arrived at last year’s Academy Awards in a frothy pastel gown (Links to an external site.) and tiara-like headband (Links to an external site.): “Black women can have princess stories, too.” After her “trampire (Links to an external site.)” cheating scandal, DGAF icon Kristen Stewart showed up at the British premiere of Twilight: Breaking Dawn 2 in a see-through jumpsuit with a heart-shaped sequined posterior (Links to an external site.): “Kiss my butt.”

Additionally, in the same way the Superbowl is celebrated as an event and a spectacle, the Oscars are as well. Nobody would critique an interviewer for asking about the preparations for the big game, but we critique an interviewer asking about the preparations for the big night. One is viewed as masculine–sports, exercise–the other is feminine–decorative, stylish. The Academy Awards red carpet is the Superbowl of fashion, and dismissing fashion as trivial and superficial is an antiquated, tired critique.

NyMag link:

The other article I wanted to write about from my media diet concerns the Bill Cosby scandal, profiled in February’s Vanity Fair. Though I read the article by James Wolcott in print, I am sharing the link to it below to view online. The article, “The Bill Cosby Scandal, Brought to You by YouTube,” touches on our collective ability to ignore certain stories and fixate on others. The Bill Cosby allegations have been around for a very long time but only recently have entered our collective consciousness, as Wolcott writes:

“The clip went viral with a vengeance, poking a hole in the dam that unleashed a flood of sordid revelations from the past unable to stay pent up any longer—a storm surge that carried all before it. Freud talked about the return of the repressed. This was the revenge of the suppressed.”

This concept that we have an ability to make certain stories resonate and ignore other, inconvenient, facts reminded me of the Woody Allen and Michael Jackson allegations as well. But it comes back to that timeless argument about art and morality–if the art is good, does it matter whether or not the artist themselves are good as well? I think the first step at least is owning our ability as a collective culture to–paraphrasing Bob Dylan–turn our heads and pretend that we just don’t see.

Vanity Fair link:


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