After a two-year hiatus, the Met Gala is officially back. The event is typically held at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York on the first Monday in May, although it has been postponed to the second Monday evening in September due to Covid concerns. Those on the exclusive guest list, chaired by Vogue editor-in-chief Anna Wintour, turn out to be overblown thematic fashion statements to raise funds for the museum’s Costume Institute.
The names and dress of those present are always the focus of the audience, and this year’s gala has stayed true to form. What was different, however, was the type of celebs who made the cut – and the backlash they sparked.
All of the co-organizers of this year’s event are Gen Z for the first time in gala history: pop star Billie Eilish, actor Timothée Chalamet, tennis player Naomi Osaka and poet Amanda Gorman . While this generational upheaval has been widely praised, as the co-hosts are all respected in their fields, some of the other Gen Z guests have been greeted with contempt. In particular, social media influencers whose names have appeared with movie stars and traditional A-List musicians are said to be guests on the TikTok video app. (Tradition has it that no one is confirmed until the big event.)
Critics questioned whether invitations to influencers like Addison Rae, who rose to prominence through appearances in dance and reality TV, deserved a spot given the perception that she and others as they created bland and borrowed content to be successful. A viral tweet imagined a conversation for when Lady Gaga, perennial gala guest, meets Rae at the event. “Waitress, can you bring me some champagne?” Gaga asks. Rae replies, “I’m Addison Rae.” To which Gaga said, “Okay, Addison Rae, bring me some champagne.” But Rae got rid of the hate, Tweeter in return, “I would do anything for you @ladygaga.”
Her witty response shows that Rae can ride with the best of them and is a sign that she has earned her place at the gala table. But more importantly, she’s emblematic of how new forms of celebrity exert a huge influence on their respective generations and should be respected and honored for it.
Rae has 84.3 million people on TikTok alone, which helped catapult her into a starring role in Netflix’s reboot of “He’s All That” released in August. Another guest, YouTuber Emma Chamberlain, is a 20-year-old woman known for her unique jumpcut editing style that earned her a business partnership with Louis Vuitton for a sneaker campaign in July. The deal proves that Chamberlain is working hard for a place in the fashion spotlight – some of the actors in attendance, on the other hand, may not have worked in years.
The refusal to incorporate viral influencers into the big night appears to have come from people, especially non-celebrities, concerned about the deterioration of the Met Gala’s glamor and exclusivity. Having social media stars like Rae and Chamberlain sitting next to Beyoncé, like the purported versions of the seating chart circulating ahead of the event, can make everyone feel like they’ve been brought to heel.
But inviting more internet-savvy stars elevates the event to a younger audience now drawn to the Met Gala marching band. Speaking of the event on social media platforms, they translated its legacy for the internet age instead of excluding an entire generation by inviting celebrities they don’t know or care about.
At the same time, potential guests are also perpetuating a stereotype about today’s youth culture that is of no help: Gen Z success is purely online. This idea may invalidate young designers as lazy and incapable of a “real” career path – perhaps one of the reasons why gala guests are looked down upon for it.
The invitations also send the message that only white influencers are welcome. While the theme of this year’s gala, “In America: A Lexicon of Fashion” strives to represent the inclusiveness of American fashion, people have not forgotten that the internet stars who made the buzz before. the event were white viral content creators.
Wintour acknowledged some past mistakes on this front in an email last year, according to the New York Times. “I want to make it clear that I know Vogue hasn’t found enough ways to uplift and give space to black editors, writers, photographers, designers and other creators. We have also made mistakes in posting hurtful or intolerant pictures or stories. I take full responsibility for these errors, ”she wrote.
Although Vogue is a different entity from the Met Gala, Wintour is still the public face of the two. The guest list shows which young personalities are seen as powerful enough to sit alongside older generations of stars at one of the world’s most prestigious fashion events. At the same time, older generations need to be respectful as the Met Gala – which started in 1948 – adapts to changing times. It’s up to all of us to grow up with the gala.