The independent student newspaper at the University of Illinois since 1871

The Daily Illini

The independent student newspaper at the University of Illinois since 1871

The Daily Illini

The independent student newspaper at the University of Illinois since 1871

The Daily Illini

The independent student newspaper at the University of Illinois since 1871

The Daily Illini

Opinion | The Met Gala needs to be canceled

Photo courtesy of Wikimedia Commons
Barbadian singer Rihanna at the 2017 Met Gala.

Fashion’s biggest fans have long awaited the first Monday in May to watch the highly anticipated Met Gala. Hosted by Vogue magazine’s Editor-in-Chief Anna Wintour, viewers watched with bated breath to see which celebrities earned the highly-coveted invitation from Wintour herself and to rate who had the best and worst outfits.

The Met Gala has historically been known to be a celebration of fashion, couture and glamor. Every year, there is a new theme where celebrities rise to the occasion and try to outdo each other’s outfits. 

While many, including myself, have once viewed the Met Gala as a night of fun for the elite, people are wrapping their heads around how the Met Gala appears as more of an elaborate, ostentatious display of wealth. 

As if securing an invitation to the Met Gala isn’t a feat in itself, tickets are $75,000 per person and $350,000 for a table. With that amount of money, you could pay a down payment for a house. 

Currently, America has an income inequality gap that is worse than what it was during the French Revolution. Many are living paycheck to paycheck and are struggling to get by. The casual, obscene display of wealth in one of the most gentrified cities in America is like a slap in the face to the working class. 

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This year’s theme for the Met Gala was “Sleeping Beauties: Reawakening Fashion,” and the dress code was based on “The Garden of Time,” a short story by J.G. Ballard.

The story surrounds two wealthy aristocrats in their beautiful villa filled with rare books, fine paintings and other decadence. They have a garden of time flowers, and beyond that, there is an unruly rabble that appears in the distance. Each time the Count cuts a time flower from the garden, time turns back; the mob recedes. 

When the garden no longer yields time flowers, the aristocrats put away their books, fine paintings and other treasures, preparing for their decadent life to conclude. The story ends with the mob overtaking the villa and finding two stone statues that resemble a husband and wife.

The story is interpreted to be about class inequality and representative of the human cycles of creation and destruction. 

The Count and his wife keeping decadence for themselves instead of sharing it mirrors how the wealthy hoard riches. Additionally, the Count and his wife stowing away their assets is synonymous with how the wealthy destroy their belongings instead of allocating them to others. 

An example that comes to mind is how designer brands such as Chanel, Gucci and Louis Vuitton opt to burn their unsold inventory instead of marking it down. 

It is a classic example of class inequality. Only a privileged few could afford the exorbitant prices of designer merchandise. These designer companies would rather destroy their unsold inventory instead of lowering the price for others. 

Not only are these practices wasteful, but the environmental harm caused by the mass burning of goods is also unaccounted for. Burning clothes and other merchandise releases carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gasses into the air, contributing to global warming. Those who live in poorer areas are impacted the most by environmental harm

By following the dress code based on the story, these celebrities are blind to how they are simply characters acting out what appears to be a shallow parody of the text. 

The Met Gala has become less of a celebration of fashion and more of a dystopian hellscape — Hunger Games adjacent. These celebrities parading their extravagant and expensive costumes is a stark juxtaposition of what’s occurring in the world. 

To top it all off, influencer Haylee Baylee made a TikTok uttering the infamous phrase, “Let them eat cake,” while at the Met Gala, dressed in a gown that likely cost thousands of dollars.

In a country experiencing a wealth gap with many barely scraping by, ostentatiously elaborate displays of wealth such as the Met Gala should cease to exist. Instead of paying thousands for a ticket, these celebrities should direct their wealth toward causes that help alleviate poverty. 

Seventy-six years of the Met Gala is enough. The Met Gala needs to be canceled. 


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