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Op-Ed: The Irony of “Gilded Glamour” at The Met Gala

The Met Gala’s extravagance has been criticized by portions of the public for some time now. However, the irony of this year’s theme “Gilded Glamour” feels like a slap in the face of those who already see the event as a waste of money. Likewise, as an event centered around a theme and fashion, there seems to be a decrease each year in respect and effort put into even this aspect of it. 

Gilded Glamour is a reference to a Mark Twain quote about the time period from around 1870 into the early 1900’s. Twain called this period the “gilded age” but what he actually meant by this seems to have been lost by both the organizers and fans of the Met Gala. The gilded age was a period of rapid economic expansion as America entered an industrial boom. It was also the time when families such as the Rockefellers, Vanderbilts, and Roosevelts were able to acquire an enormous amount of wealth. With this new fortune, they flaunted fancy clothes and homes. 

However, Mark Twain’s reference to this age being “gilded” was not out of admiration of the extravagance of the time, but rather a commentary on the growing economic disparities in America. By calling the time period gilded, Twain meant that the period was shiny on the surface, but corrupt underneath that glimmer. While elites saw extreme wealth, just down the road immigrants and workers were living in squalor. 

What is ironic about the Met Gala’s use of this quote to flaunt extravagant wealth and fancy clothes, is that this disparity still very much exists. As well, to see celebrities such as Kourtney Kardashian answer that she “didn’t really think about it” when asked what the theme meant to her, shows that the event has become much less about fashion and art. Celebrities often ignore the theme or do not even give it any consideration, proving that what seems to be the most important aspect of the Gala for attendees is to be the richest looking in the room.

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