Unsurprisingly, award shows have always been riddled with celebrity fashion statements. Nights such as The Grammys where all the stars (and cameras) gather are without a doubt a great time to speak up. However, it is also true that TV & Film award shows tend to have more subtle protests, while music award shows are more theatrical.
The point is that they all seem to get political in one way or another. Some of the most notable recent award show fashion statements include Pharell dressing his backup dancers in hoodies to honor Trayvon Martin at the 2015 Grammys, various stars wearing blue ribbons to the 2017 Oscars to signify support of the ACLU and, of course, Joy Villa in her controversial “Make America Great Again” gown at last year’s Grammys.
This year, many celebrities elected to wear black to the Golden Globes to stand in solidarity with victims of sexual assault. The lack of color on the red carpet was definitely noticeable, but the problem is that it wasn’t really that groundbreaking. Many critiqued the protest by noting that black gowns at an award show are hardly a statement.
On the other hand, many artists at this year’s Grammys adorned white roses to support the cause. This protest, while still simple, seemed to say a little more. The white roses were obviously meant to symbolize something and weren’t easily confused with a regular Grammy accessory.
This difference is huge because a protest is hardly a protest if it doesn’t require much diverting from the status quo. Fashion statements, just like any other protest can’t afford to be subtle if they truly aim to make a difference. While TV & film award shows such as the Golden Globes don’t offer as many opportunities for performance art protests as music award shows do, they do offer just as much public attention, and therefore should be just as bold when it comes to their political fashion statements.
Be the zeitgeist.
For over a year now, Colin Kaepernick has been using his platform as an NFL superstar to protest police brutality. On Friday, September 22, 2017, a group of Howard University students protested this year’s Convocation speaker, James Comey, during convocation.
In both instances, I have seen people call the protestors “disrespectful” and tell them that what they were doing was “inappropriate.” I find this both amusing and troubling. A protest, by definition, is an act of civil disobedience and “disobedience” almost promises that the act will “disrespectful” and “inappropriate.” A protest is meant to make you uncomfortable; it’s meant to make you upset. If those who I’m protesting enjoy my protest, then I’m doing it wrong.
Oppressed people have two options: be loud and obnoxious until you get enough attention to change things or suffer in silence. In my opinion, to suffer in silence is to willingly accept what’s being done to you.
In my favorite Zora Neale Hurston quote, she says, “If you are silent about your pain, they’ll kill you and say you enjoyed it.”
Colin Kaepernick decided not to let anyone believe that he enjoyed police brutality. The group of Howard students who protested during convocation decided not to let anyone believe that they enjoyed a symbol of an unjust system being welcomed into their safe space.
Those acts are things I can respect. What I cannot respect, however, is respectability politics and the choosing of white comfort over Black lives. The”disrespectful” and “inappropriate” argument against protest sounds a lot like “be a good nigger and don’t start no trouble.”
When in actuality, trouble is exactly what we need. The “good trouble” John Lewis spoke of is so necessary. You can’t disregard people and then expect their opposition to be pleasant. Pleasence is too easy to ignore. You cannot let yourself be ignored and you shouldn’t encourage others to let themselves be ignored. Agency requires ruffling more than a few feathers.
Be the zeitgeist.