Dressing up dystopia: Met Gala’s dissonance amid Gaza genocide

The conspicuous silence of the celebrities on Gaza genocide contrasts starkly with Met Gala's glamour, sparking online movements to divest their power.

Dressing up dystopia: Met Gala's dissonance amid Gaza genocide

On Saturday 21 October 2023, possibly as many as 300,000 people demonstrated in London in solidarity with Palestinians. Photograph: Alisdare Hickson/Flickr

This week saw the annual “Superbowl of fashion”, the Met Gala in New York, return for the 50th time since it was first conceived in 1973. This occurrence conveniently coincided with Israel’s invasion of Rafah, the last remaining refuge in the Gaza Strip, detracting the global focus elsewhere.

This jarring juxtaposition of events casts a dystopian shadow, reminiscent of ‘The Hunger Games’. This prompted a backlash online and an ensuing movement to “divest” celebrities of their power by blocking them and their businesses so they could no longer generate ad revenue.

This is not the first time the Israel Defence Force (IDF) utilised moments of media distraction to drown out their heinous acts of genocide. Back in March, as the red carpet rolled out for the Oscars, and on the eve of Ramadan, the IDF prepared a ground assault on Rafah—the southern tip of the strip, where 1.5m Palestinians sought refuge after the Israeli aggression ravaged northern Gaza.

Institutions like Hollywood help to propagate the false notion of western civility, moral authority and cultural supremacy, meanwhile the West is facilitating their expansion through military agreements to slaughter and displace innocent Palestinians. The whole Met Gala night was a manifestation of excessive wealth, devoid of political statement.

Venetia La Manna, a campaigner for fair fashion rights says, “Fashion is inherently political…Fabrics are political. It’s art, right? And art is inherently political.”

So why did celebrities indulge in a night of blissful ignorance?

Pro-Palestine protesters demand celebrities use their massive influence to raise awareness and encourage political entities, like the US government, to intervene and help alleviate the violence in Gaza and disrupt the institutions that enable it.

Some of them have even created a #Blockout2024 movement that targets celebrities who exploit their vast
social media followings for financial gain, promoting their latest ventures while remaining silent on the Gaza genocide.

As the genocide’s dark shadow looms over Rafah, it’s for the celebrities and those who wield power to consider whether they should remain silent spectators or speak out against injustice.

Aneesha is interested in journalism with a focus on climate and culture. She aims to use storytelling for change. She’s inspired by art history and South Asian fiction.

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