Few are watching events like the Academy Awards or Golden Globes, really, no doubt partly because the images and the news will be beamed across social media feeds in real time anyway. It makes no difference if a particular look is seen on Zendaya or any number of social media influencers with millions of followers. It will be forgotten within a matter of hours as the Twittersphere moves on to the next thing, whatever that may be.
Red carpets no longer inspire awe because they haven’t evolved beyond that no longer novel opportunity to capture a moment and sell an image. In a culture driven by a barrage of imagery the very idea of creating moments is far less about creating art and more about social media talkability — likes and follows.
A case in point: Kim Kardashian appears on the Met Gala red carpet in the historic sparkly gown worn by Marilyn Monroe when she sang “happy birthday” to then US president John F Kennedy. Reportedly, due to the delicate condition of the half-century-old dress she had to lose weight to get into, she’s only seen in it ascending the Met Gala staircase and quickly changes into a replica.
I can’t think of a better metaphor for the convoluted, uninspired mess that has become image making in the current era. Sure, Kim Kardashian and Ripley’s Believe It Or Not! Museum — the owners who loaned the dress to her — get to be spoken about for a while but creating a classic moment in the same way Marilyn did in the same dress is the result of performance; an element Kardashian’s donning of the dress is devoid of.
I’m not speaking about performance in the sense that she was literally delivering a song, but in the sense that, in that dress, she became the moment. Rihanna did something similar in the now iconic Guo Pei yellow dress with a fur-trimmed train at the 2015 Met Gala. She didn’t recreate a moment; she became it.
Fast forward seven years later and we’re still waiting on another moment like that, that will be burnished in memory as something beyond just talkability. It truly is a boring era of celebrity — lots of fashion, very little performance and certainly few moments.