asking more of #askhermore
Are we being too hard on red carpet reporting?
Presently #askhermore is one of the biggest topics of conversation in fashion and feminism. For anyone who hasn't kept up with red carpet based gender movements, it's a push largely started by Cate Blanchett calling out E News' "Glam Cam". Since then female celebrities and mere mortals alike have taken to social media to demand red carpet interviews push beyond the usual, "Who are you wearing?" and ask more substantial questions.
Now it's pretty hard to argue against asking smart women smart questions, and engaging female intelligence and identity is usually something I could talk about for days. But I have trouble being fully enthralled by the movement. Because honestly, do we really think the red carpet is the place to bring out your journalistic A-game?
To be completely fair I'm not a fan of red carpet culture in general, but I don't think it's totally fair to place this focus on the tradition. The red carpet is a fantasy world, one populated by garments we'll never get near and salespeople. Because when you're walking it, you're selling your movie, yourself, your album, and your dress.
Obviously to ask stupid sexist questions is unacceptable—but I consider it unacceptable to ask stupid sexist questions in any situation. Honestly if I sit down to watch beautiful women swan into an awards show, I probably do want to hear about their outfit.
Also, lets not be so quick to dismiss the question of what they're wearing. These creations aren't regular Sunday Bests, they're pieces of couture that take countless hours, many hands, and a lot of love and creative energy to make. Costing upwards of a hundred grand they're usually one of only a few in the world. I consider a chance to see a bespoke Givenchy, Lanvin, or Chanel dress a treat. And I would like to get a closer look at that beading thank you. It doesn't mean I've totally disregarded the brain of the woman wearing it.
And spare a moment for the reporter. You have maybe a minute with one of the most famous people on earth, they're tired, they don't want to talk to you, you're both at work, they want to get away as fast as possible to get inside and into the champagne, and behind them are 20 other people you have to go through this all again with. It's hardly a situation to demand award winning reporting.
To be clear, I'm not dismissing the demand to Ask Her More—its presence in the realm of editorial features is deserved and very important. Jennifer Garner became the other face of the movement when she told a story contrasting her experience on a press junket with that of her husband Ben Affleck. Over a day of promotion she was asked questions of motherhood and balance, her husband with whom she has two kids was asked about another woman's breasts.
The call to engage these women more fully is needed. When given the platform I'm often floored with the eloquent reflections women in entertainment have—and to be honest sometimes it's from sources I had previously underestimated. The idea that models, actresses, and celebrities have nothing to say is antiquated. You only need to flip through the most recent issue of i-D to see how powerful the words of the Generation Z subjects can be.
Red carpet culture isn't faultless: there is a huge disparity about how men and women are spoken to. Something tidily summarised by Amal Alamuddin's bored expressions during the last Golden Globes. But rather than #askhermore, I'd suggest #askhimanything. Maybe it's because I work for a fashion publication, but isn't their style and process of getting ready interesting too?
There is little doubt there's a guilty pleasure to indulging in the minutiae of celebrity's lives. I want to know how Andrew Garfield gets his hair to look like that, Eddie Redmayne's tips on buying a perfect slim suit, or Jared Leto's approach to baleage. Men's fashion is often sidelined, so perhaps a part of the conversation can be flipped and opened up to acknowledge that the fantasy of the red carpet doesn't need to be totally female-centric. Wanting to know about a woman's dress doesn't assume you think she's one dimensional, sometimes we really do just want to know what you're wearing.