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During this Sunday's Oscars telecast, Melissa McCarthy and Brian Tyree Henry brought a little levity to the hostless awards show when they presented the Oscar for Best Costume Design. The Oscar-nominated Can You Ever Forgive Me? actress and the If Beale Street Could Talk actor were both dressed in an extravagant display of outfits mimicking -- in hodgepodge fashion -- the costumes that were nominated that extravagant evening.
While most of the audience members in attendance appreciated the lighthearted and intentionally over-the-top attire, there was one person in particular who wasn't having it. And she wasn't afraid to voice her distain. Academy Award-nominated costume designer Arianne Phillips said this:
I like to think I have a sense of humour. And I love Melissa McCarthy and Brian Tyree Henry. But... I honestly thought this was tasteless and insulting to costume design. The Oscars are an opportunity to honour our craft(s). As costume designers we struggle with people in our own industry UNDERSTANDING our job. On this one night where the work is supposed to be elevated (look at the international ratings) this is perhaps the most egregious misrepresentation not only of taste (which is subjective) but of value to the filmmaking process. We are not just 'shoppers', as our job is so often misunderstood. We constantly have to explain our job, this kind of mockery only underscores frustration. Feels like major steps backwards. SHAME on The Academy for allowing this to be broadcast.
The woman who wasn't having it with Melissa McCarthy and Brian Tyree Henry was Arianne Phillips. She is a two-time Oscar-nominated costume designer who was previously recognized for her work in Walk the Line in 2006 and Madonna's W.E. in 2012. In the since-deleted post, saved by the BBC, Phillips was adamant about her disdain about the comedy segment, believing it belittled her craft and the field that was meant to be celebrated during this time. Suffice to say, she was not amused.
Is this response appropriate? It depends. Comedy is subjective, after all, and what one person finds humorous will rub another person the wrong way. It's hard to call this bit offense, at least in a general sense, and Arianne Phillips' complaints are less about the material itself and more about the lack of respect that is given to the craft being awarded.
After all, this is typically the one time of the year when a movie's costume design is recognized -- and, you know, literally rewarded. Melissa McCarthy and Brian Tyree Henry were essentially taking a shot at the typical stuffiness of typically Oscar-nominated costume designs. While most people likely saw it as simply a goof, it was something a little more disgraceful for Phillips.
Personally, I felt this particular Oscar bit was one of my favorites of the night (no pun intended), and I tend to enjoy when the Oscar presenters loosen up even a little bit and have some fun before awarding their respective prize. Nevertheless, it was a sign of disrespect for this one particular Oscar-nominated costume designer. And as she made clear, Arianne Phillips was most certainly not amused by this piece.