The Met Gala went from A-list elite to tacky trash

There is a scene in the comedy film “Mean Girls” that takes place at a high school Halloween party.

Vapid teen girl after vapid teen girl arrives at a suburban home wearing nearly identical sexy mice, kitty and bunny costumes like it’s the Playboy Club. So when Cady, played by a pre-Mykonos Lindsay Lohan, shows up as a freaky ghost bride with giant, crooked teeth and a face smeared with blood, time stands still.

“Why are you dressed so scary?,” a frightened Plastic asks her. “It’s Halloween,” she confusedly replies.

Cady was, after all, the only person doing Halloween right. The kids enjoying their ephemeral popularity had manipulated the celebration of the, um, dead to save face. To avoid embarrassment. To remain cool.

That same scenario played out Monday night at the 2019 Met Gala.

At Anna Wintour’s annual day of judgement, a bunch of non-celebs and the occasional star ascended the Metropolitan Museum stairs with the enthusiasm of Whistler’s Mother, decked out in outfits meant to embody “camp.”

You know — Rip Taylor throwing confetti into the air, Richard Simmons’ “Sweatin’ To The Oldies,” Norma Desmond in “Sunset Boulevard,” The Mooch — camp!

Instead we got a humorless debutante ball, in which a parade of VMA nominees sulked around in pretty dresses covered in feathers. Did they look nice? You bet. Occasionally striking? Sure. Campy? Hardly.

For weeks in the lead-up to the event, fashion websites have been asking the question, “What is camp?” like Data the robot from “Star Trek” trying to understand the concept of laughter. Their hilarious ignorance showed. Demi Moore, Gisele Bündchen, Jennifer Lopez and Penélope Cruz all looked like they got lost on the way to the Oscars in extremely straightforward frocks.

Trying to sound smart, some spoke of the inspiration of the late writer Susan Sontag’s essay “Notes on Camp,” which plays a major role in the Met exhibit. That composition mentions feathers, for example, and being “deadly serious.” Check and check. Suffice it to say, Sontag, who also wrote such knee-slappers as “Illness as Metaphor,” was no Joan Rivers.

One thing was camp, however — Wintour’s guest list.

The Met Gala is usually the Rao’s of galas. Whereas most such events in New York are cold-beef affairs where you might run into fellow attendees later on the A-train, this party is uber-exclusive with every very famous and relevant guest personally approved by Wintour. Which begs the question — did her intern hijack her Google Doc?

Last year’s “Heavenly Bodies”-themed ball boasted Madonna, Sean Combs, Scarlett Johansson, Colin Firth. Oscar-winners, legends, classy folks. While the A-list was still present this time, the room has become cluttered more and more by Instagram influencers and reality TV stars. Shirtless Instagrammer James Charles was there freshly tanned from Coachella. Kim Kardashian, naturally, was nearly naked while Hailey Bieber showed off her thong. They were neither funny nor tacky, only trashy.

While most confused campy for operatic or color-saturated, a few stars got it right — Michael Urie in a half-suit-half-dress by Christian Siriano and Tessa Thompson’s hair functioning as an actual whip.

But for the most part, the Met Gala confirmed what everybody knew already: When looking to celebrate the campy, the strange, the funny, the proudly garish, skip over the Hollywood elite and try the Castro in San Francisco, instead.

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