It has officially been a week since the Met Gala. As usual, the event created buzz about the theme (In America: A Lexicon of Fashion), attendees’ interpretations of the theme and the event’s existence overall. As I said in my previous article, the theme this year felt very superficial. There were several attendees who were creative in their interpretations of the theme, which I discussed more on The Herald’s TikTok, @meredith_herald (I promise it’s worth a watch). However, there were people who confirmed my suspicions of just how awful the theme could be.
Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (AOC) has been the main recipient of backlash for how her outfit neglected to account for real situations. AOC dawned a white dress with the words “Tax the Rich” on the back in red. Designed by Aurora James, AOC claims that the dress was meant to bring awareness to the issue, not be the answer.
AOC also explained that she and other New York elected officials are “invited to and attend the Met” because of their positions. Other officials like New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio and New York Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney were also in attendance. But regardless of if they were invited or not, all attendees had the choice to go: and she chose to go. If anything, their attendance further solidifies that members of and those accepted by high society are severely disconnected from the general public. While the Met Gala was happening, protesters met outside to call for police accountability and divestment from police departments to fund community resources. While AOC was inside being photographed and generating buzz, her constituents were being arrested en masse and brutally dragged by police officers. No matter what AOC’s intentions were, it fell short of being anything more than a publicity stunt.
Wealthy individuals are able to cosplay social movements. They are able to attend fancy events and shelter themselves from the real world, while everyday people are forced to put their lives on the line to provoke changes. And politicians especially are in a unique position. They take steps to distinguish themselves from wealthy elites, but continue to attend events where they rub elbows with them. Nothing about that feels average or ordinary.
By Aminah Jenkins, Associate Editor