AOC ‘Tax the Rich’ dress dazzles Met Gala, as police arrest BLM protesters outside
Alexandra Ocasio-Cortez turned heads on the red carpet at this year’s Met Gala in a long white dress with the words “Tax the Rich” in red on the back. The political fashion statement has garnered admiration from the left and criticism from right-wing figures, just as singer Joy Villa’s “Build the Wall” dress at the 2019 Grammy Awards did backwards.
Interviewed by a reporter at the event on Monday night, Ocasio-Cortez addressed her controversial choice of tailoring, saying: “A lot of times this conversation takes place [only] with the workers and the middle classes. I think it’s time to get all the classes involved in the conversation to have a more just country.
Outside, police rounded up a number of Black Lives Matter protesters also calling for economic justice, albeit in a different way. One protester, identified only as Ella in a later Instagram post, paraded down the street in a pink dress and white boots, sharing his own message via a microphone as dozens of supporters watched:
We cannot go back to normal. Where was your rage last year? Thirty-five thousand dollars for a fucking bill to show off your fucking clothes, while our people are still dying! Our people are still dying! Our people are still being murdered! And there are millions of dollars going to this museum. We demand free accommodation! We demand the release of all political prisoners! We demand justice for our people!
Ella, along with several other protesters, were arrested that day after around two dozen officers rushed towards the crowd, wrestling people on the ground and dragging them in zippered handcuffs, according to footage and photos of the event. The pomp and prestige of the rich and famous haute couture models inside an ultra-exclusive event on the theme of “American independence” contrasts sharply with chaotic scenes of violence on black and brown bodies a few meters away. of the. The Hunger games the metaphor writes itself, but there is another comparison to be made. What makes the AOC political protest so enjoyable and the protests of the anonymous masses so appalling?
It is now common for the media to periodically produce images and reports of BLM protesters assaulted by cops, even as they call for justice in cases of police brutality or demand the redistribution of funds from inflated budgets. of the police. The general public and the elites have become seemingly unresponsive and apathetic to the failure to follow through on these demands, but they have developed a penchant for integrating activism into culture and entertainment. The new “personnel policy” is so present, happening so much, but only acceptable during awards and performances, where it can boost audiences, morale and the idea that things are changing.
Meanwhile, the reality is that very little has changed when it comes to actual public policies. In the aftermath of the tragic murder of George Floyd, months of racial justice protests led to sporadic, often superficial support from the rich and famous, while politicians made empty promises to reform the police system . A “hip-hop month” was recently enacted, as ruling Democrats quietly set aside the George Floyd bill for sweeping policing amendments.
Indeed, assessing what happened to the police reform plans drawn up after last year’s uprisings will show that the plans were intentionally inadequate at best, and utterly fraudulent at worst. Rather than fund the police and funnel that money to underprivileged communities, New York Mayor Bill de Blasio’s executive proposal for fiscal year 2022 raised the police budget to $ 5.13 billion, that’s $ 230 million more than before. The mayor was among the 2021 Met Gala attendees.
Sadly, with 2020 being a bitter distant memory, Americans are desperate to return to a normal world of extravagant parties, articulate politicians, and fiercely racist police forces. Perhaps too exhausted and bewildered by the protests and complex issues that marked the past year, the Liberals are now swooning over bold slogans on beautiful clothes.
While AOC’s impressive and unusual rise to power has inspired many in the working class, the way it uses its current power and popularity is worthy of close examination. Is it meaningful to wear a dress that says “Tax the rich” while chatting with the rich? Or is it performative? And at a time when a big chain is filming a reality TV series called Activist, with celebrities like Usher, Priyanka Chopra Jonas and Julianne Hough as judges, does the answer depend on who you are asking the question?
Journalist Tanzina Vega tweeted Tuesday, “Love the dress or hate the dress, but you’re talking about the dress.” So who won ?
The question is not just who wins, but what gets won? If the goal was to gain the attention of the media and viewers, then congratulations are in order. If it was to shift, as AOC mentioned, the conversation about taxing the rich to the rich themselves, then maybe that has also been accomplished. Yet there are finer and more important desirable outcomes that are difficult and necessary to measure. The rich may be amused and intrigued by such a dress, but do they really want to be taxed more? Are they the kind of rich people willing to reduce their wealth for the greater good of society? With the additional assumption, of course, that the government is actually going to channel these taxes to the causes that protesters are calling for outside? On another note, do the average citizens parading in front of the AOC dress on their phones care to research the economic implications of the catchy little slogan, and would that make them more civically engaged?
Criticism is not without importance because of the frivolous idea that it nevertheless keeps the spotlight on the AOC. Nor is he in the same category as the vitriolic of certain Republicans threatened by one of the most progressive congressmen. Rather, it is an important means of comparing and contrasting which political messages are ‘safe’ in society and which are not, who is celebrated and who is arrested, and which themes are brought to the fore and which are. put aside.