This year, the theme at the annual Met Gala on Monday night was “Heavenly Bodies: Fashion and the Catholic Imagination,” and a lot of celebrities went all-out when dressing for the occasion.
Rhianna, who was co-hosting the affair, dressed as a sexy version of the pope.
Who else but @badgalriri could pair a custom @maisonmargiela by John Galliano mitre and a minidress? She strutted among the statues of the Greek and Roman galleries. Directed by @bardiazeinali DP @kellyjeffrey Movement @mettenarrative Steadicam @yoshisteadiop Production @prodn_artandcommerce Edit & Post Production @modern.post @modern.post Music @depechemode
The most charitable view of this look is that Rhianna and her fellow Met Gala attendees have no idea why this getup is offensive. Allow me to break it down.
Why this look is offensive: As the head of the Catholic Church, the pope retains authority over the church. Through apostolic succession, Catholics believe this authority has been handed down to him from Saint Peter, who Catholics say was ordained as the first head of the church by Jesus Christ himself. Turning the pope into a sexy look for a night out says that the position Jesus created to lead the church is just a club dress.
Lana Del Ray dressed as Our Lady of Sorrows — a Marian devotion and iconographic depiction of Mary in which she has daggers in her heart, each representing a difficulty Mary experienced as the mother of Jesus.
Lana Del Rey Met Gala 2018 x Seven Swords Piercing the Sorrowful Heart of Mary in the Church of the Holy Cross pic.twitter.com/rUxONx6rOK
— ً (@28Iive) May 7, 2018
Cardi B went as a pregnant Madonna.
Why these looks are offensive: The Catholic Church teaches that Mary was born without the stain of original sin and lived a life of chastity. She conceived and bore Jesus miraculously and was assumed into heaven. Her role as the bearer of Christ makes it possible that men and women might be saved by her son’s blood. While Jesus was scourged, stripped, and crucified on Good Friday, Mary watched. The pains she endured throughout her son’s birth, life, and death are part of what makes salvation possible. These sufferings are not a costume.
The Met Gala’s official Twitter account tweeted a photo of Lana with Jered Leto, who dressed as Jesus (if Jesus were a Saudi prince) and Gucci designer Alessandro Michele, who dressed as Jesus (if Jesus were an Elvis impersonator). The text alongside the photo reads “Holy Tynity.” Yes for real.
— MET GALA (@themetgala) May 7, 2018
Why this is offensive: Where to start? The real Trinity consists of God the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit guides us to eternal salvation through Christ’s death and resurrection, which substituted his perfection for human sin and thus allowed us access to God and eternal life instead of eternal damnation. Heretical teachings about the Trinity have led Christians astray from the faith for millennia, which is why they are very important to Christianity. The Trinity is not something to mess around with — especially not by an intern running the Met Gala’s Twitter account and misspelling “Trinity” ironically.
Katy Perry dressed as an angel.
— The Met (@metmuseum) May 7, 2018
In her Insta story, Perry revealed that she was wearing her rosary blessed by Pope Francis, whom she visited at the Vatican last week. Perry is still embroiled in a lawsuit with the sisters of the Most Holy and Immaculate Heart of the Blessed Virgin Mary in California over a property dispute. Sister Catherine Rose Holzman, who was fighting Perry in court over property the sisters say was stolen from them, collapsed during a court proceeding in March and died. She was 89 years old. Hours before her death, in a televised interview Holzman pleaded with Perry to stop the court battle and relinquish the property back to the sisters.
To tease the event, the Met Gala’s official Twitter account tweeted a photo of what looks like a parishioner garbed in a white cape and hat ensemble, kneeling before a crucifix in a church. “Faith is in fashion!” the accompanying text reads. But is it really?
— MET GALA (@themetgala) May 7, 2018
Treating Christianity like it’s comparable to a rosary or a velvet cape, which can be put on and taken off, reduces the religion to a fashion accessory. Lucky for these celebrities, Christians are a tough bunch who are used to scorn and mockery, particularly from Hollywood. Notice these Met attenders declined to parody, glam up, or otherwise trivialize any other religion, such as, say, Islam.
Onscreen, those who take their faith seriously are depicted as an annoying Pollyanna, or a legalistic Amelia Bedelia. And the very teachings of the faith are twisted into heresy or used as a kugel to beat women into submission, because Trump! Jesus is shown as being sexually active. And every year, Christ’s resurrection is treated as a hoax to be debunked, because science!
This treatment is nothing new. Jesus promised his followers 2,000 years ago that we will be hated and persecuted for his sake. He orders us to turn the other cheek and to pray for those who torment our brothers and sisters in the faith.
When these celebrities make a mockery of the faith a vast majority of Americans hold, the people whose attentions they depend on to stay relevant, they’re really hurting themselves. A little less open disdain and irreverence for what their fans believe in would go a long way.