If you are a frequent watcher of award shows, and a woman, then you know that watching the red carpet is just asking to roll your eyes every five seconds if you're not into fashion. Why? Because that's all the interviewers want to talk to the female celebrities about — while the male celebrities receive thought provoking questions about their projects or their lives that have very little, if anything, to do with what they are wearing. The #AskHerMore campaign first gained traction after the 2014 Golden Globes, but, as with most social media campaigns, nothing really changed on that front. However, on Sunday, Reese Witherspoon promoted #AskHerMore on her Instagram, reigniting the plea for the 2015 Oscars — and for every award show to come — to make the effort to ask women on the red carpet more interesting questions than simply what designer they are wearing.
So how did the 2015 Oscars actually score on the #AskHerMore report card? Shockingly for the same ceremony that received backlash for the lack of diversity among the nominees, they actually did better than expected. Of course, we should have seen that coming when Patricia Arquette dissed the beloved Mani Cam to place the focus on her charity work instead.
"There's this silly mani-cam business going on," she said in the most polite voice I have ever heard a person use throw shade before. "And I was supposed to get a manicure this morning, but instead I was working on launching this... site for an experience where you can enter sweepstakes and go with me on a global mission with one of our projects... where we do ecological sanitation work in the neediest communities around the world." Mic drop.
Let's break this thing down. On ABC's Oscars Opening Ceremony, led by Lara Spencer, Michael Strahan, and Robin Roberts, only Rosamund Pike, Felicity Jones, and Dakota Johnson were asked who they were wearing before they were asked anything else. However, they put a band-aid on that wound when Roberts and Jess Cagle discussed the #AskHerMore campaign, bringing more awareness to it, and, later, Reese Witherspoon was asked about the campaign as well. "This is a movement to say we're more than just our dresses," said Witherspoon in one of the most powerful statements of the red carpet. Seriously, can someone start a slow clap for her please?
Over on E!'s red carpet, hosted by Ryan Seacrest and Giuliana Rancic, things went more or less as well. Margot Robbie, Dakota Johnson (again), Marion Cotillard, David Oyelowo, Adam Levine, John Legend, Lupita Nyong'o, Julianne Moore, Khloe Kardashian, Sienna Miller, Behati Prinsloo, Nancy Carell, Chrissy Teigen, and Faith Hill were all among those asked who were they were wearing before they were asked anything else. Yes, that's right, three male celebs compared to 12 female celebs. Of the people who weren't asked what they were wearing at all, only three of them were women. If you're despairing as hard as I was, take comfort in the fact that, of the over 18 people who were interviewed about what they were wearing and about other things, all but six of them were female. That's what I would call an improvement, slight though it may be.
Of course, there was a lot of failure on the red carpet. Naomi Watts managed to avoid the prerequisite dress question until the very end, yes, but most of her conversation with Ryan Seacrest centered around cooking. (You know, because cooking is way more important than anything she could be doing professionally, if we can't just talk about her dress.) Prinsloo wasn't asked any questions aside from who she was wearing while most of the attention instead went to her date, Adam Levine — a fate she shared with many other female celebs on the red carpet. Meanwhile, Hill was asked for advice on her husband, and Sperry was asked about her father, casting both women in terms of the important men in their lives rather than celebrating their own accomplishments and merits.
Overall, the 2015 Oscars red carpet lived up to the ideals of #AskHerMore a lot better than I was expecting. As the last, and most prestigious, of the ceremonies in this award season, I could see them making a visible effort to come up with better questions for the female celebrities they interviewed. Well, for some of the female celebrities they interviewed. I was genuinely surprised by a lot of the interviews, because so many of them led with questions about projects and careers, and the hosts spent more time speculating about what people would be wearing than they did asking those people about what they were wearing. And, honestly, I preferred it that way.
Personally, I've never been that interested in fashion, so getting to hear all of my favorite female celebrities have conversations more interesting than simply name-dropping designers or showing off their nails in the Mani Cam was a breath of fresh air for me. As the #AskHerMore campaign aims to point out, there is so much more to actresses than a sexist focus on what dress they happen to be wearing or what accessories they paired with it or how they did their make up. There is so much more to actresses than how they look at a ceremony that is meant to celebrate them for their acting talent in film. It could just be me, but it feels like the Oscars in particular should be setting the precedence for focusing more on a female celebrity's achievements than on their appearance — though every award ceremony makes the mistake of neglecting the latter in favor of the former.
So, here is my hope that when the 2016 awards seasons roll around, the Oscars get better at #AskHerMore and the other ceremonies follow suit. I won't ask for the "Who are you wearing?" question to be abolished entirely, but it would be nice for it to become the last question we ask our female celebrities instead of the first.
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