PRO: A national protest
The black attire worn by many actors and actresses at the 75th annual Golden Globe Awards created some controversy on whether or not it was an effective means of a protest. This year’s event was beyond the usual announcements and speeches, as celebrities finally spoke up about the issue taking over Hollywood: sexual harassment.
With more sexual harassment allegations surfacing than ever in the entertainment industry over the past three months, celebrities have finally decided enough is enough. Contrary to the claims that wearing black was simply a fashion statement, the reality is that they shed light to on an issue often ignored in the industry. Banded together under the movement “Time’s Up,” many attendees have made the movement stronger with their demonstration.
“This is a moment of solidarity, not a fashion moment. […] This time the industry can’t expect us to go up and twirl around. That’s not what this moment is about,” actress and key member of organizing the demonstration Eva Longoria said to the New York Times.
Some are skeptical about whether something as simple as a black dress can alter the future of sexual harassment, but by coordinating their dress, celebrities have acknowledged the subject that causes many discomfort, showing the media that they are willing to fight this problem head-on.
The high profile stars took advantage of the 19 million people watching this year’s Golden Globes to effectively deliver their message. This movement’s purpose is to promote unity, not fashion. It is refreshing to finally see a large influential group of people protest against something that happens everyday to about 20 percent of women according to the National Sexual Violence Resource Center.
Contrary to claims that this movement was not appropriate for an environment like the Golden Globes, the large number of new donors to Time’s Up says otherwise. Due to endless advertising of #MeToo on every social media platform from successful Golden Globes attendees, the media has become more than aware of this movement.
From coverage by CNN to the New York Times to even huge fashion magazines outlets, #MeToo has spread across the nation and worldwide. With millions of tweets on Twitter and posts on Facebook in less than 24 hours after the event, it’s clear that bringing this movement into an awards ceremony was the right call. Time’s Up Legal Defense Fund has raised over $16 million after the Golden Globes, and they can finally bring legal justice to anyone who has been sexually assaulted.
One cannot simply ignore the sexual harassment, whether in the entertainment industry or anywhere else. Ignoring this problem any longer is unacceptable and will only exacerbate the issue. Wearing black was the protestors’ means of showing their support, which will hopefully lead to something bigger. It is time for a new era—a time for change.
CON: A feeble attempt
The 75th Golden Globes Awards was a sea of black. Almost every woman wore black in support of the movement “Time’s Up” and the fight against sexual harassment in Hollywood. In the spirit of gender equality, quite a few men joined in as well.
It seemed appropriate, given that sexual harassment allegations against a large group of men, from Harvey Weinstein to Mario Batali, dominated headlines the past year. However, the unified show of black, despite efforts, didn’t make the lasting change to the viewer’s experience or mindset that participants hoped it would.
Given that black is already a common color seen on the red carpet, more impact would have been made if the attendees really went out of their comfort zone to attract more attention. Far more people would have taken notice if the protestors did something more drastic and unconventional.
What if every woman refused to wear fancy, expensive dresses? Hollywood would have been greatly disturbed if attendees wore T-shirts bearing the faces of people who spoke out against harassment, or simply the words “Time’s Up.” What if every woman refused to speak at all, and instead let assault survivors make their speeches for them? What if every woman just boycotted the event? Wearing black was too basic and modest.
Moreover, the majority of the population pays more attention to a person’s words and actions, rather than their clothing. The red carpet mainly benefits and funds the fashion industry and its stylists. It was never a starting ground for political movements to begin with.
Oprah Winfrey and her rousing call to arms against assault and harassment easily stole the show. Her speech was widely reported on news channels and social media and was speculated to foreshadow a Winfrey presidency in 2020. In the aftermath of the awards, no one cares that almost everybody was wearing black. One woman did more for the Time’s Up cause than the combined effect of thousands of black outfits.
Basing a social movement on wardrobe coordination risks easily fading away. Any lasting impact to Hollywood requires the combined efforts of both genders, as well as the ability to keep up their momentum after the black dresses go back in the closet. Entertainment industry leaders and politicians would be forced to take notice if hundreds of influential women pushed the bounds of social conventions and demanded change. Instead, we saw these women start a fashion trend.
Taking a unified stance against sexual harassment is definitely something that needs to happen. Influential people working in tandem can be powerful. Unfortunately, clothing color is not the best place to start when trying to revolutionize our society’s views on gender equality and sexual misconduct.