Long have I been saying that people should put less faith in Taylor Swift. While her songs might be iconic and encompass the overwhelming feelings of womanhood experienced by many, Swift is ultimately a self-serving billionaire.

Swift is but one individual, however, and while it would be easy to focus all the blame for all the terrible things in the world—war, hunger, starvation, corruption—on one blonde singer, the truth is that those we deem ‘celebrities’ are a class of individuals who can so easily prioritize their fame and affluence over the suffering of common people. In a world in which, according to the International Monetary Fund, the top richest 10% of the world’s population have more than 190 times the wealth of the bottom 50%, people are asking whether such wealth should also bring some responsibility.

Rarely have we seen so many say to the uber-rich, “you are disgusting.” In 2024, thousands have expressed this sentiment—if not verbally, then through their actions. The backlash against the attendees of the Gala led to a movement called Blockout 2024. The movement began on the Chinese app TikTok in response to content creator Haley Kalil’s post from the Met Gala stating, “Let them eat cake.” The public has responded to Kalil’s words with an opposition to starving the Met Gala attendees of the attention they receive online. Blockout 2024, which has also been referred to as the “digitine” (a play on digital guillotine), has seen attendees lose hundreds to thousands of followers, and the movement continues to gain traction online. While the movement has made a dent in the number of followers for these accounts across many social media platforms, it remains to be seen if Blockout 2024 will have a larger effect.

The annual Met Gala, also known as the Costume Institute Benefit, seeks to raise money for Manhattan’s Metropolitan Museum of Art. Tickets for the event have risen to cost upwards of $75,000, a significant amount which has added up to nearly $26 million.

As noted by New York financial consultant Rachel Feinberg, “There are very few other events that raise this kind of money.” While supporting the arts is certainly integral to maintaining a society with freedom of self-expression, the attendees of the Met Gala 2024 have faced criticism for flaunting wealth amid a period of global inequality. It is estimated that around 783 million people go hungry worldwide every day. It certainly seems that the Met is not short of rich and famous celebrities who can afford their nearly eighty-grand ticket and ten-seat tables, which are not far from half a million dollars ($350,000). Though many of the celebs on show will not have paid a penny for their tickets being recipients of corporate sponsorship.

Many people have compared the Met Gala to Panem from The Hunger Games, the series of films starring Jennifer Lawrence and based on novels by Suzanne Collins. Panem, also known as The Capitol, was a district in the books and films known for exploiting other districts to maintain its wealth and military might. Comparing imagery from the Met Gala to the costumes worn in the movies, the comparison is not far off visually.

The host of the Climate Revolution TikTok page stated bluntly, and seemingly with great truth, that the comparison of the Met Gala versus the scenes of horror coming from regions of the world experiencing mass poverty is “dystopian”:

“These people are living in a different plane of reality than the rest of us. They aren’t affected by the same political and economic issues that matter to us because rich people will always have the means to circumvent them. War, abortion access, rent prices, sea level rise, extreme heat, food scarcity—these things don’t concern them.”

The creator went on to point out that these individuals had the ability to speak on situations such as the ongoing massacre in Gaza but have chosen complicity via silence. On the same day that the Met Gala took place, the Israeli military launched an operation in Rafah against 1.5 million displaced Palestinians. Middle East Monitor points out that attendees such as Dune star Zendaya have a reputation for being socially aware but has remained silent regarding the ongoing genocide in Gaza.

What has had an active effect is a discourse online regarding the abundant wealth available to the celebrities of today and the disparity between those in poverty and those in Hollywood who can afford such affluence.

More information can be found online about Blockout 2024 under the hashtag #blockout2024.

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