Will they #Askhermore? Celebrity, sexism and the red carpet

Curator's Note

The awards ceremony red carpet has long been a space where female celebrities are visually deconstructed. Who are you wearing? is more than likely to be the only question a famous woman will be asked by journalists. The introduction of technologies of surveillance such as "The Mani Cam, The Stiletto Cam"and "The Glam Cam", became further proof that the scrutiny of the physical appearance of famous women is the principal function of the opening of such high profile events.More recently, a backlash against this hyper-scrutiny has emerged as a counter to such sexist and banal journalism. The #Askhermore campaign, which began in 2014 spearheaded by The Representation Project, and mobilised by Amy Poehler’s Smart Girls organisation encouraged journalists to engage with famous women in a way that was not rooted in discussion of their physical appearance. The project grew in visibility as a number of high profile female celebrities became engaged with its aims.The contempt for red carpet sexism was exemplified by two moments: actress Cate Blanchett’s response to the Glam-Cam as it panned up and down her body at The Golden Globes in 2014. Blanchett’s angry reaction to such public deconstruction provoked widespread support. Likewise, Top of the Lake and Mad Men actress Elisabeth Moss’s angry reaction to E!’s “Mani-Cam” was widely circulated. Both of these highly public displays of contempt for reductive coverage have been circulated, shared, discussed on social media and online countless times. The #Askhermore campaign has forced the need for journalists to ask women more substantive questions into the limelight. But has how far has it really shifted the tone of such entertainment award shows which are ostensibly based on narratives of glamour and gossip?As the 2016 Academy Awards ceremony approaches, there is some expectation that journalists will have to rethink the ways in which they interact with female celebrities. Yet they must also feed the appetite for celebrity scandal and controversy. The need for more high profile, famous women to engage with such issues directly, and in public has never been more pressing.

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