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  • Ashley Torkornoo

Controversy Meets Met Gala

This year's Sept. 13 Met Gala was surrounded by many controversies. From Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez's "Tax the rich" dress to the BLM protest outside of the event and Nicki Minaj not attending due to the vaccination requirement, the event will go down in history. The event acts as a fundraiser for the Metropolitan Museum of Art, and this year’s was "In America: A Lexicon of Fashion" a celebration of American fashion. Last year the event was canceled due to COVID-19, but as vaccines became more readily available, the Gala was back on schedule. Throughout Vogue's coverage of the event, many of the celebrities interviewed spoke of diversity and how celebrating it is celebrating America.

But in stark contrast, outside of the event, BLM protestors were being arrested. This picture of America is more than familiar to us. The division along socioeconomic and racial lines was visible in one of most diverse cities in the U.S. And the theme being America was even more ironic. Many celebrities of color were happy to talk about their ethnic background and saw tonight as a way to amplify their people's historical part in developing American culture. However, the BLM protest was a grim reminder that there is nothing worth celebrating while injustice still prevails.

"No justice, no peace" was chanted throughout the streets of New York as the protesters demonstrated peacefully. It did not take long until the New York Police Department silenced them and many were arrested. As the civil unrest continued that evening, New York Mayor Bill de Blasio was wining and dining with A-listers at the Gala itself.

This is America, where the cries for justice go unheard by those we elected to be our voice. This is America, where those whose duty is to protect and serve are the ones we fear the most.

De Blasio was not the only politician at the Met Gala; Ocasio-Cortez was also invited. A young politician, “AOC,” as she is popularly addressed, has received many positive and negative coverage from both sides of the political spectrum. Some see her as a radical socialist and others a performative liberal. But both conservatives and progressives were riled up when she showed up to the Met Gala in a white gown that said in red text on the back "Tax the Rich." She was called a hypocrite, and rightfully so. What are people going to think when you attend an event only rich and famous can afford to go to and wear a dress that could pay off someone's debt.

But in my opinion, that is the point. Put a message like that in an environment where you know your target audience cannot ignore it. As John Lewis would put it: "good trouble." Love her or hate her, we can all agree that it is not fair that hard-working Americans give up the little they do make to the government each year but wealthier individuals disproportionately pay fewer taxes if any. The wealth is being hoarded while the average American is thousands of dollars in debt and struggles to feed their family.

Ocasio-Cortez was not the only person who received political backlash . Rapper Nicki Minaj also was under fire when she revealed to fans why she did not attend this year's event. She took to Twitter to answers her fans’ questions about her absences and explained that the Met Gala required vaccinations for all attendees. Mandatory vaccinations have already been controversial, but many people criticized Minaj for negatively influencing millions of her followers. Honestly, Nicki Minaj deciding to stay home while she is unvaccinated is the safest option for everyone. We should be encouraging more unvaccinated people to limit the public events they attend, especially if masks are not required. This is for their safety and well-being.

We are still in a pandemic and the Gala being held during it is controversial. So why are people not upset at the event being hosted this year but instead upset those who wish to stay home and keep their family safe? The theme was America, so why do we not question their choice to celebrate these unprecedented times but arrest BLM protesters? The Met Gala is an elitist event, and even though fashion lovers like me enjoy watching it each year, it is hard to ignore how tone-deaf even celebrities of color were by attending the event.


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