The opinions expressed in this article are the writer’s own and do not reflect the views of Her Campus.
In 1948, the illustrious Met Gala made its debut. New York’s socialites and fashion designers filled the Rainbow Room at the midnight supper to participate in the lavish, exclusive exhibition. The “Party of the Year” was and remained an event for the elite. However, in recent years and notably this year, the Met Gala continues to extend its arms to more invitees, altering the status of the ‘elite’ as we have known it to be.
There is a lot of controversy regarding who is deemed worthy enough to be at the Met Gala. This year’s exhibition featured influencers that many saw as an embarrassment to its distinguished legacy. Youtubers Emma Chamberlain, Eugene Lee Yang, Nikkie de Jager, and Jackie Aina; TikTok stars Addison Rae and Dixie D’Amelio and social media star Madison Beer made their appearances.
In “Met Gala Guest List Backlash Over TikTokers and Youtubers “Elitism,” Buzzfeed reported tweets from several people expressing their dissatisfaction. “Are they running out of celebrities to invite at the Met Gala!? Why are there so many influencers like Youtubers and Tiktokers,” user @STILLXLP1 said.
The truth is (which I think is obvious) the more significant the names, the more views come in for the Met Gala and all broadcasted events alike. So it only made sense for these influencers to be there. Regardless of how we view them, they are a large part of American pop culture. They are in the conversation, whether it is about their content or investigating how they got their fame and deserved it.
I believe that the celebrity in its entirety is changing. Not every person with a following is a celebrity, but becoming well-known is more attainable than ever. Now, one can go onto a reality TV show like Love Island or Too Hot To Handle and have many brand deals, a surplus of followers, and a blue check as a result. This obtainability makes influencers a ‘cheaper’ celebrity to many.
This is also applicable to TikTok. Rae and D’Amelio feel inauthentic due to their quick rise to fame and what they are doing with it. The classic business tactic for influencers with no specific niche goes as follows: merch, brand partnership, debut single and music video, host an event, appearance in a movie or show, and so on.
Most of us are aware that many celebrities don’t have a ‘true’ talent for us, the viewers. Take stars of nepotism or who have questionable rises to fame, like The Kardashian family, Donald Trump (pre-presidency), or Paris Hilton. These people became familiar to the public eye from having close relations with wealthy socialites or being children.
For almost two decades, Paris Hilton’s impact on the McBling era in the early 2000s, the Kardashian’s impact on makeup, fashion, and reality TV, these names, regardless of ‘talent’ or the niche they catered to, have been around for years.
Chamberlain has impacted Gen-Z and currently has relations with Louis Vuitton but has not been around for as long. So the opinion on if she is worthy of an invite is not definite. On the other hand, TikTokers like Rae and D’Amelio, definitely fall short in worthiness— their content being short form and lacking originality since it primarily consists of following trends.
However, singers Doja Cat and Dua Lipa, who have not been celebrities for long, were thought to have a place at the Met Gala. Twitter user @yonswae said that “the fact that Addison Rae is at the Met Gala and Doja Cat isn’t #MetGala,” and included a picture of the singer’s outfits at the VMAs. Others quoted the tweet and shared how disappointing it was that the event did not invite them.
It seems as though the difference between influencers and celebrities is a conglomeration of overall impact, talent, time in the spotlight, and niche. And the importance of those factors varies from general likeability. Although Doja Cat and Dua Lipa have not been in the industry for decades, they are still well respected because of their talent and upbringing.
Overall, I understand the frustration of influencers being in ‘celebrity spaces’ (that phrase sounds wild to say). They are not doing anything original with the fame they got by doing ‘nothing’ the way some say the Kardashians or Hilton have. It feels like they are just—there.
We enjoy the exclusivity of the celebrity in a way. The Met Gala is an exclusive event for the high profile and wealthy to dress up and for us to enjoy. We like to anticipate seeing respected, familiar faces from the music industry or our favorite movie. Whether it is a piece of music that changes us, a vlog on Youtube, or a show about a crazy-rich dynastic family with way too much drama, we value the unattainable luxury they offer.