What Joan Rivers Meant to the Red Carpet — She Was The First Person to Not Kiss Celebrity Ass
Comedian, fashion critic, and red carpet commenter Joan Rivers passed away at the age of 81 on Thursday, but she won't soon be forgotten. Rivers made a name for herself in late night before re-branding herself as a fashion critic, using her sharp-tongued wit to ridicule poorly dressed celebs. She was one of the first red carpet reporters who refused to kiss up to celebrities and gave her honest opinions on their appearance, no matter how scathing.
Like a predecessor to Perez Hilton and other sassy bloggers of our time, Rivers comedic prowess managed to both insult and entice. Although Rivers was at times lambasted for her harsh comments (remember when she said Lena Dunham was promoting poor health by not being rail thin?), there's no denying she is worthy of the utmost respect. For one, she changed the face of red carpet commentary long before the days of Fashion Police. Rivers is often credited with coining the phrase "Who are you wearing?" in her red carpet interviews for E!, conducted alongside daughter Melissa.
"Joan and Melissa were the first people who came out and made it more of a true conversation between star and reporter," Gary Snegaroff, E!'s senior VP of production, told Yahoo! News. "They asked about what [actresses] were wearing because that's what the magazines would cover after the fact, and turned it into a candid conversation on the carpet where anything could happen."
It may come as a surprise today, but "Who are you wearing" was once a controversial line. Many believed that people didn't care about the fashion aspect of the red carpet and shrugged off Melissa and Joan's reporting technique, dismissing the famous phrase as shallow and trite. In an interview with Chicago Sun Times, Joan Rivers said:
When I first said it, the New York Times wrote that ‘this is improper grammar.’ They also snipped that not only was my English wrong, but that nobody was interested in what people wore on the red carpets at award shows. I thought, ‘The New York Times is wrong!’ And I was right.
This attitude is exactly what helped Rivers to stay relevant in a youth-obsessed culture until her death. At times she could come off as cruel, but she was never afraid to say what she was thinking and often turned that scathing wit on herself. "I succeeded by saying what everyone else is thinking," she once said and, to an extent, it's true.
Joan Rivers' legacy will live on in red carpet pre-show interviews and on talk shows and wherever anyone has the guts to viciously tear apart a celebrities outfit.
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