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Two weeks after Texas basically banned abortion, the Met Gala moved forward last night with the laughably dystopian theme of “American Independence.” The Metropolitan Museum of Art’s iconic annual cash cow was slightly different this year, taking place in the fall with two thirds of its usual guest list, about 400 people. (Due to pandemic reshuffling, the 2020 and May 2021 festivities were canceled; the gala will resume its usual spring schedule next year.)
In many other ways, it was exactly the same; namely, a parade of blinged-out interpretations of the theme that rolls out on social media as the red carpet photos start to trickle. And the easiest way to win this expensive contest is not to be the most glamorous (see: Indigenous model Quannah Chasinghorse‘s Navajo turquoise-studded look, Amanda Gorman’s accessories referencing poetry and liberty), but to be the most memeable.
In the latter category, there was Kim Kardashian in a black full-body stocking reminiscent of a Harry Potter dementor; Lil Nas X in a gold suit of armor; and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s “Tax the Rich” gown. (In her defense, the NY rep said “the medium is the message” — but that message raised eyebrows, because a single ticket to this bombastic celebration of unfettered capitalism costs $35,000.) For a reality check, LittleSis.org has created this handy flowchart of all the problematic multimillionaires on the Met museum’s board.
Below, we rounded up the best memes and snarkiest commentary on the evening’s most absurd getups. Bonus: check out Brendan McCann’s annotated Declaration of Independence ensemble, above; the artist is known for crafting faux Met Gala outfits entirely out of objects found around his home (no invitation required.)
Predictably, the Internet had a rollicking good time with Kim K’s terrifying outfit selection. The fact that it was designed by Balenciaga got lost in a sea of memes drawing uncanny comparisons, from the titular character of the Alien franchise to the creepy Grim Reaper figure that appears when one of your Sims dies.
AOC, a member of the so-called “Squad” of progressive Congresswomen, received mixed reviews for wearing a dress that champions redistributive taxation at an elite museum event. But the best responses are the bizarre new meme she sparked, which consists of long rambling texts overlaid on the gown.
As in previous editions, the gala’s theme is related to the Met’s concurrent Costume Institute exhibition; this year, it’s In America: A Lexicon of Fashion, an homage to US designers coinciding with the Institute’s 75th anniversary. Given this focus, some of us naturally wondered why the nation’s most recognizable contributions to fashion didn’t make an appearance on the red carpet:
And while the Met Gala is usually strictly about fashion, it does take place at one of the world’s largest encyclopedic art museums. A number of memes refreshingly honored some recurring themes among institutions: overworked museum workers, looted artifacts, and toxic philanthropy.
In no particular category, here’s a few more memes that made the cut.
And on a lighthearted ending note, we’ll just leave this here!
To showcase this work exactly 500 years after Magellan’s conquest of the Philippines in a space that, 134 years ago, was a “human zoo” of Indigenous people from the Philippines, is certainly poignant.
Since 2014, Alison has been visually dissecting Monique Wittig’s novel The Lesbian Body, which theorizes the split subjectivity women experience in language, an inherently patriarchal structure.
This exhibition in Great Falls, Montana addresses the concept of intention in contemporary fiber art and its complex relationship with the history of women’s art as craft.
N.I.H., short for No Humans Involved, was an acronym used by the LAPD to refer to “young Black males who belong to the jobless category of the inner-city ghettos.”
Cha, who was murdered at 31 years old, explored the nuances of forced migration and language.
Explore new avenues in artistic practice and scholarship amongst a diverse cohort of peers while gaining leadership skills both academically and professionally.
Taping a banana wasn’t enough, so the art world had to do something even more stupid with food.
Stoner jokes, unexpected pop culture references, and an unlikely love story jangle against each other like charms on a bracelet.
In this exhibition, curated by Patrick Flores and presented by Taipei Fine Arts Museum, Paiwan artist Sakuliu reflects on interspecies co-sharing and coexistence.
The plans for Munger Hall may just be the most ruthlessly efficient way to house 4500 students.
The Mandan, Hidatsa, and Arikara (MHA) Nation says tribal leaders were not consulted regarding the relocation of the statue.
The autumn holiday of Sukkot continues to offer solace and community for new generations.