Roe v Wade competed with a starving Kim Kardashian

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Rarely has there been a Bastille that needs to be stormed as much as the annual gala of the Metropolitan Museum’s Costume Institute. Or, for you and me, the Met Ball.

Every May, the good and the big from the world of celebrities descend on the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York for a party that proclaims itself Oscar for fashion. In 2014, Vogue editor and event architect Anna Wintour complained that at just $15,000 a ticket, it was too inclusive. This year, a ticket would cost you around $35,000.

The purpose of the Met Ball is nominally to fund the museum’s costume institute. In reality it is a question of providing a roster of stars deemed worthy of an invitation; dress them up in clothes that are worth more than money can buy, parade them in front of the camera like turbo-camp zoo animals; and to provide a safe environment for the super-rich to fraternize with the ultra-elite.

This year the party was themed The Gilded Age and White Tie (they were hardly going to make it the Down the Coal Mine theme, were they?). The provenance of the phrase can be found in an 1873 novel by Mark Twain about the materialism, industrialists, and corruption that gripped late 19th century America. “Gilding” involves a thin, transparent veneer of splendor to mask the crisis of inequality in the nation. So far, so appropriate.

It’s awfully easy to balk at the extravagance of celebrities so far removed from reality that the absurdity of it all doesn’t even seem to have occurred to them.

As celebrities put on this royal spectacle to keep the world’s peons gawking in awe, Kim Kardashian – perhaps one of the most famous women on the planet – knew she had to shock and dazzle again. , surpassing his Herculean efforts of previous years. Taking inspiration not only from the inspiration, but also from the clothes on the back of her 1950s counterpart, Kardashian donned a dress last seen on the back of Marilyn Monroe herself.

She climbed – in fact, she hobbled – the museum’s famous stairs in the dress Monroe wore to serenade John F Kennedy on his 45th birthday in 1962. She hasn’t been worn since but at At nearly $5 million, it’s the most expensive dress ever sold at auction. . The garment is so valuable that it should be stored at a controlled temperature of 68 degrees in a darkened room.

The total downside of this plan becomes much worse. The day before the event, Kardashian spent 14 hours dying her hair blonde. But that’s just child’s play. In the weeks leading up to Monday, she had to lose 16 pounds to fit into the unalterable dress. She told Vogue how she limited her diet and wore a “sauna suit” twice a day. I don’t know what a sauna suit is supposed to do to a human, but apparently it was the magic bullet that helped Kardashian squeeze into a dress last worn in the 1950s. When the dress closed up, she explained that she wanted to cry tears of joy.

And here’s the punchline: So delicate the item and so steeped in history, Kardashian only wore it for a few minutes. “I would never want to sit in it” (well of course) she said, not to mention eating.

Pete Davidson and Kim Kardashian at the Met Gala on Monday night. Photography: Evan Agostini/Invision/AP

Carrying weight on our body was once the ultimate sign of status and wealth. Next was thinness. But now, the choice to eat only tomatoes and sauna for hours every day to fit a few minutes in a dress that belonged to an American icon is the ultimate and unassailable privilege.

It makes it awfully easy to balk at the extravagance of celebrities so far removed from reality that the absurdity of it all doesn’t even seem to have occurred to them. Grossest of all is the expectation that we will be dazzled by this display of dedication to an act that has no artistic or historical merit. A woman who climbed stairs in a dress, all in the name of what, exactly?

But Kardashian is just a woman. Another man dressed in a way that I can only describe as looking like a very poisonous tropical fish. Another of the countless Kardashians wore a baseball cap, a veil and a wedding dress. If it was satire, it was well done. It probably wasn’t.

Hillary Clinton was there, alongside New York Mayor Eric Adams. Our own Paul Mescal from Normal People was present, looking incongruous in a black suit and an ill-advised mustache.

As these stars are groomed and groomed by teams of people, who have put months of thought and far more than thousands of dollars into the deal, they are ultimately put on display like well-groomed Afghan hounds at Crufts. The important thing to remember is that the indignity of the case falls much more on their shoulders than on ours. And moral turpitude at the feet of the organizers more than anyone.

Even more insulting, catching Covid-19 from a celebrity should be a blessing, a worthy compromise for the show to be smitten with its beauty

Because the trick of the Met Ball, if it is perhaps not its ultimate intention, is to highlight the parallel universe of the ultra-elite. Last year, that manifested itself in images of unmasked A-Listers supported by their legions of salaried and, crucially, masked staff. Paparazzi were crammed into pens with their faces covered to capture the perfectly manicured cheekbones of the bare-faced starlets. At least three assistants helped singer Jennifer Hudson up the stairs of the museum, carrying her dress, supporting her under a deluge of fabric.

It was like saying that Justin Bieber doesn’t even possess the ability to spread the coronavirus. But those who dressed him, took care of his wife’s hair and makeup, and positioned her bejeweled dress for the perfect picture, somehow. And let’s not forget those who serve food and drink. It was as if viral load depended on wealth. Or perhaps, even more insultingly, catching Covid-19 from a celebrity should be a blessing, a worthy compromise for the show to be smitten with its beauty. The reverse, of course, could only be a horrible curse.

The most powerful and accidental symbolism of the evening, the most damning and sadly one that celebrities could not predict, was the leak of a draft United States Supreme Court decision proposing the repeal of Roe v Wade . As women’s bodily autonomy across the United States has been thrown into the unknown, it’s hard to muster anything but revulsion at a starving three-week-old woman and her entourage whose sole focus this that night was a good photo to further anchor his stardom.

If the goal of the Golden Age is the thin veneer and superficiality of wealth covering the cracks of a deeply miserable and unjust society, then no one has looked at the spiritually impoverished nature of the whole affair as the Supreme Court. New heights to aspire to next year for participants, I suppose.

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