Two years ago to the day, I moved into my current apartment. In order of importance, I set-up the WiFi, figured out my sleeping situation, and started unpacking. While a comprehensive to-do list would follow, one thing I never did was buy a TV (or the cable package that comes with it). So for two years of covering major celebrity events, I've never once actually tuned into the red carpet coverage—and I don't plan on changing that anytime soon.
It turns out my cable-cutting isn't just a weird side effect of my NorCal hippie upbringing. According to studies, my peers are putting down the remotes too. Among those age 22 to 45, 47% do not watch TV in the traditional sense. Instead, I bounce between Netflix and HBOGo, digesting movies and shows from the safety of bed, laptop squarely in my lap.
If so many people aren't tuning in on their TVs, I wonder about the relevance of a red carpet—especially this year. Covering the Grammy Awards last month, I noticed that some of the show's biggest names skipped the carpet altogether, choosing instead to share their photos on Instagram. There, artists like Rihanna and Beyoncé have full control of the way their images (and outfits) are shared, not to mention the fact that they don't have to interact with a screaming pack of cameramen.
In a piece penned in W Magazine, director Sofia Coppola argues that the rise of celebrity stylists has killed red carpet fashion. "Ever since people started to worry about the reviews their outfits might receive, stylists have become a necessity, and you rarely see personality come through," she writes. "These days, many stylists are being paid by the brands they push, and some actresses regularly decide on a dress based on the fee they will receive to wear it."
Coppola is right, with many celebrities tied to big brands, it's easy to hazard a guess as to what they'll wear long before the carpet begins. (I've done it before, and gotten pretty close too.) But I don't think that predictability and enjoyment are mutually exclusive. While it would be nice to see a bit more daring dressing, we can all admit that there's still something magical about a predictably pretty dress. And in 2018, there is one way in which the red carpet has served as a source of fresh inspiration, by being a space for actors and actresses to show support for the Time's Up movement and to make a communal statement through what they choose to wear.
So does the red carpet matter anymore? I say yes. But we've all learned that in the age of social media, it's not irreplaceable. Come Sunday, I'll be following along on social media, waiting for the buzziest of moments unfold, and keeping an eye on Who What Wear's roundup. But sans live stream, I won't be tuning in via TV. Personally, I have no interest in watching on-air commentators give play-by-plays as everyone makes their way into the event. Though the way I consume these events have changed, I admit there's still something undeniably enjoyable about clicking through a gallery of every look and ooh-ing and aah-ing at one of the last vestiges of really dressing up that we have left.