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E! just announced that Fashion Police is going on an “extended hiatus,” now that half of their fashion police officers (Kelly Osbourne and Kathy Griffin) jumped ship first.
The show achieved peak messiness so quickly that if it were to go on, they’d probably have to rename it Watch Brad Goreski Say Adorable Things in a Bow Tie. Both Griffin and Osbourne pretty loudly declared that the show was a sinking ship. Osbourne quit after part 987,128 in the disaster that was their discussion about Zendaya’s hair, and then Kathy Griffin presented the news of her departure with a message graced with Lena Dunham’s feminist superpowers, assuring us that she was off to be a champion for tolerance.
Griffin’s farewell was a pointed choice of words, when just recently, she threw weed into the awful discussion about Zendaya. But Fashion Police, which she called a “comedy fashion show,” had an established tradition of not saying anything overly funny or too smart about clothing. So what was it about?
Most fashion media outlets aimed at women will jokingly poke fun at weird style choices with a worst dressed list now, but Fashion Police continued to go a different counterproductive route until it just became out of touch. Even Glamour changed their style shaming game up this way:
Old Glamour: Don’t ever be caught wearing tight white pants if you can’t pull them off because it’s a terrible look that isn’t doing you any favors.
Newer Glamour: Don’t be afraid to wear white pants because everybody can pull them off! Xoxo lookin’ good!
It’s absolutely true that people say mean things about weirdo outfit choices on the red carpet over boxed wine at home. Speaking up for this occasionally innocent brand of comedy on T.V., Joan Rivers said, “these women make a million a picture, do you really think Nicki Minaj cares if I don’t like her dress?” Even, Lupita N’Yongo, who deserves a special section in heaven just for existing, can wear one too many feathers. When it comes to critiquing celebrity style, talking about what works and what doesn’t work without being a total dick is fair game.
But let’s talk about why the style shaming framework of the show was inescapably offensive to women.
Because of segments like these:
1) “Starlet or Streetwalker,” the unpopular philosophical question — is this woman dressed well or like a woman people pay for sex?
2) Bitch Stole My Look-your classic who wore it best, but edgier because “bitch.”
3) Rack Report-match the breasts to the celebrity, enough said.
The DNA of the show was the opposite of timely. When fashion police officers circled unflattering parts of outfits on a screen, they put celebrities under a harsh microscope, and it became a sport. It’s representative of a thematically repetitive concept that is eroding in fashion media: being bitchy as you trash people’s looks. The order of the day for outlets that are geared toward women is to embrace women’s freedom to dress how they want, and that makes the gotcha fashion policing a dated way to make fun of dresses no one can afford. Unless you’re talking about tabloids and creepy sites, the overly critical discussion of how women’s bodies look as media is dying.
Gradually, the burns weren’t even that bitchy. In their most recent Oscar coverage, John Travolta was the popular choice for worst dressed, and John Travolta probably took the hit well. Marion Cotillard was Giuliana Rancic’s worst dressed pick because she’s such a “fashionista,” and because she deserved so much better. That’s what passed for a burn on the show: an angel has downgraded herself in a doily. But those kind of half-hearted polite objections don’t make sense on a show with a segment like “Rack Report.”
It’s no wonder then that Griffin departed with a miraculous discovery. Her new mission to address unattainable standards of beauty and to help minorities is quite the epiphany after seeming to enjoy plenty of body-shaming even before the show, but we’ll take it. Props to the hosts for getting out of this bitch-fest. Perhaps Kathy Griffin’s departure is more of a statement about who she wants to become, which makes sense if she was stuck ripping into women all the time. Unless you’re winking and spelling out “Help!” with tampons, there’s no real way to stand up for women on the show. Not if you’re laying into looks the way a show like Fashion Police needs you to.
Even if they stop zeroing in racks, this show is too irrelevant to continue.