“I’ve never taken a selfie and I don’t plan to start now,” Anna Wintour, Editor Vogue and Chair of the extremely prestigious Metropolitan Museum of Art Costume Gala, infamously said in an interview last year. That may sound like a condescending divaesque statement to throw out at social media enthusiasts but Wintour put her money where her mouth is. This year the Metropolitan Museum, Anna Wintour and US Vogue put a ban on all social media and smart phone photography from inside the Met Gala. They appointed Mario Testino as the official social media photographer and he was the only one posting an insider’s view to the Gala all evening.
Why do you think they banned social media?
At the face of it, this was one way to ensure that the $25000 dollars-per-ticket event remained as exclusive as it is supposed to be. The official statement put out was that the ban was to “ensure “the guests’ security and enjoyment of the event”, a source was quoted as saying. A third speculation was that Vogue and Relativity Studios were reportedly going to be filming for a documentary on this year’s fashion exhibit, called China: Through the Looking Glass. The ban on social media would make the documentary more exclusive.
It could also have something to do with last year’s shenanigans. Surely, no one has yet forgotten that infamous moment that took place between Solange Knowles and Jay-Z in the elevator (captured by a security camera and circulated as #ElevatorGate on social media). Cynthia Rowley also snuck a GoPro Camera into the event in her purse, giving outsiders an inside look at the highly exclusive party, and Cara Delevingne posted a pretty hilarious video of two of America’s sweethearts, Reese Witherspoon and Zooey Deschanel, drunkenly trying to pronounce her name.
At the end of the day, this was self-confessed selfie hater, Anna Wintour’s call.
Was it a smart call to make?
When it comes to celebrities and their stardom, there is no doubting the fact that the age of social media has managed to erase the word mystique out of their aura. In fact there isn’t much of an aura left as most celebrities expose much too much about their life and work on their Twitter or Instagram pages. Fans are left with the feeling of knowing their favourite stars so well, simply because they follow them on Twitter or Instagram or their personal blogs. It takes the charm out of the star-fan equation. Karl Lagerfeld will never be as enigmatic as Coco Chanel, even if you thought he was as brilliant a designer. Her aura came from being inapproachable and aloof.
“What do I wear in bed? Why, Chanel No. 5, of course,” has to be one of Marilyn Monroe’s most famous sayings but one doubts it would have had the same impact had she tweeted it from her account.
Beyond puncturing the ‘aura’, the social media craze has also allowed everyone with a smart phone to think of himself as a citizen journalist. While professional social media writers and Instagrammers have better sense of decorum, there are enough smart phone junkies out there, sleazoids looking for a bare bum, a flash of skin, a nip slip or an inelegant (perhaps drunken) celebrity moment to crash in upon and reveal to the world. It is the end of privacy, if at all privacy can exist in this day and age.
“It’s all too much,” a certain designer said at the recently held Telenor Fashion Pakistan Week in Karachi. “We used to step on the red carpet, get photographed elegantly and move on. But now the red carpet means that someone is pulling at your hand to photograph your bracelet, someone wants your clutch, someone else wants a picture of your shoes, your hair, your lipstick…it’s overwhelming and exhausting. And it’s not too elegant,” she sighed.
One can only imagine that Anna Wintour handed out the NO SMARTPHONES memo to retain the elegance and sophistication of the Met Gala. It might seem draconian to selfie-loving stars and fans alike, but if there’s one thing celebs love more than their Instagram accounts, it’s protecting their increasingly rare moments of privacy. Can we blame them for that?