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As Hollywood Becomes More Progressive, Red Carpet Events Become More Political

(Photo by ROBYN BECK/AFP via Getty Images)

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As Hollywood becomes more progressive, red carpet events have moved from being a “who’s who” moment to a “who’s the most moral” event.

Over the years, viewership for Hollywood award shows has continually decreased. The 2020 Oscars saw its lowest audience number yet at just 23.6 million viewers. That’s a 20% drop from the previous year, a show that received roughly 29 million viewers.

Yet, even with the smallest audience ever, celebrities have seized the moment to battle each other over who can be the most progressive.

Actress Natalie Portman, for example, donned a cape over her stunning dress on the red carpet for the most recent Oscars. The cape was embroidered with names of female directors. (RELATED: Rose McGowan Slams Over Her Pro-Female Oscar’s Dress)

“I wanted to recognize the women who were not recognized for their incredible work this year in my subtle way,” Portman told the LA Times of her decision to use the embroidered cape in her look.

While celebrities have been using red carpets to make political statements for years, the newest trend has been focused on the environment.

Other actors and actresses have turned to repurposing or even re-wearing their often lavish and expensive red carpet looks as political statements.

Joaquin Phoenix accepted his award for Best Actor while wearing a clean cut Stella McCartney Tuxedo, the same tux he plans to wear to the rest of the 2020 awards ceremonies.

He spent his acceptance speech advocating for animal rights, which shouldn’t be a surprise to anyone since he spent time volunteering at a slaughterhouse comforting pigs immediately following his appearance at the SAG Awards in January.

More actresses have vowed to wear more sustainable fashion during the awards season. Reports claimed Kaitlyn Dever of “Booksmart” wore a Louis Vuitton dress made of Tencel, which is an eco-friendly material.

Dever’s dress was made in partnership with the Red Carpet Green Dress (RCGD) campaign. The organization was started by actress Suzy Amis Cameron.

“Our goal is to draw attention to the importance of more sustainable practices in fashion and be part of bringing those solutions to the global market,” RCGD said on its company website. “Through our red carpet design initiative in exclusive partnership with the Annual Academy Awards, across to our ongoing collaborations with global brands to deliver sustainable products to market. We are part of the change we want to see in the world.”

Saoirse Ronan, who starred in “Little Women,” rocked a custom Gucci gown made out of materials from the dress she wore to the BAFTAS.

The BAFTAS dress was also made out of leftover satin, Vogue reported.

Actress Elizabeth Banks wore the same Badgley Mischka red dress that she wore to the Vanity Fair Oscars party back in 2004.

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Then (2004) and Now (2020) #recycle #radvocacy

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“It’s gorgeous and it fits … so why not wear it again?!” she captioned a photo of herself at the Oscars.

Banks chose to wear the dress again in order to “bring global awareness to the importance of sustainability in fashion and consumerism as it relates to climate change, production & consumption, ocean pollution, labor & women.”

Author Arianna Huffington also became an outfit repeater.

“As you probably know, I am a big fan of #repeats,” she captioned her Instagram post. “When you own something you love, wear it again and again. It saves time, money, mindshare and the environment! This year at the #VFOscarParty I re-wore the same dress that I wore at the VF party 7 years ago.”

While some actresses chose to go eco-friendly, many still changed into a completely new look for the well-known Oscars after parties.

And while celebrities have used the red carpet to make statements about the environment and fashion, landfills are filled with textiles. In 2017, the EPA claimed 11.2 million tons of textiles entered the municipal solid waste, making up 8% of all MSW put into landfills. 16.9 million tons of textiles were also generated that same year. The EPA estimated that only 2.6 million tons of textiles were recycled in 2017.

That didn’t stop them from using their awards ceremony moments to get up on their soap box and preach to the once-open-eared masses watching on television.

The Academy itself also jumped into the environmental debate.

In 2020, guests enjoyed vegan appetizers in their repurposed luxury clothing.

“The Academy is an organization of storytellers from around the world, and we owe our global membership a commitment to supporting the planet,” the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Science said in a statement to The Independent. “For the past decade, the Academy has been committed to reducing its carbon footprint. For the past seven years, the Oscars show has had a net zero carbon imprint. We continue to expand our sustainability plan with the ultimate goal of becoming carbon neutral.”

The Oscars have not been the only awards show to go vegan. As previously reported, the Golden Globes served plant-based meals at the January awards show. The final decision was made only two weeks before the show and was made to bring attention to the connection between food consumption and the environment. (RELATED: Golden Globes Will Serve Plant-Based Meals At 2020 Awards Show)

“If there’s a way we can, not change the world, but save the planet, maybe we can get the Golden Globes to send a signal and draw attention to the issue about climate change,” HFPA president Lorenzo Soria told the Associated Press at the time. “The food we eat, the way we grow the food we eat, the way we dispose of the food is one of the large contributors to the climate crisis.”

Besides the food, the 2020 Golden Globes were also filled with speeches about climate change.

The night began early with actress Jennifer Aniston reading a speech for Russell Crowe that focused on the Australian brush fires.

“Make no mistake, the tragedy unfolding in Australia is climate-change based,” Aniston read on behalf of Crowe. “We need to act based on science, move our global workforce to renewable energy and respect our planet for the unique and amazing place it is. That way we all have a future.”

Phoenix again made big statements about the climate while being honored for his role in “Joker,” but instead of preaching to the average person sitting at home, he actually turned the conversation back towards the celebrities themselves.

“It’s great to vote, but sometimes we have to take that responsibility on ourselves and make changes and sacrifices in our own lives,” he said. “We don’t have to take private jets to Palm Springs for the awards.”