Not wanting to be left out of the current wave of Hollywood award show activism, the music industry has put a symbolic twist on the boutonniere.
At the 60th annual Grammy Awards on Sunday in New York, a number of artists, producers and executives opted to accent their red carpet looks with a white rose after a last-minute push by behind-the-scenes music-industry professionals to come up with a gesture of unity for this #MeToo moment.
Taking a page from the Time’s Up initiative against harassment and workplace inequality, which had its black-dress debut earlier this month at the Golden Globes, a separate, more do-it-yourself organization called Voices in Entertainment began an email campaign on Wednesday to spread the word about the accessory of choice. The white rose, the group said, “has historically stood for hope, peace, sympathy, and resistance.”
In a message sent to supporters and the news media on Sunday ahead of the Grammys, Voices in Entertainment said it was fighting for “equal representation in the workplace, for leadership that reflects the diversity of our society, workplaces free of sexual harassment and a heightened awareness of accountability that our sisters started on January 1st and continued through the Golden Globes and onward.”
The letter of support — initiated by a dozen female executives who worried nothing else was being done for what is known as music’s biggest night — was signed by hundreds of rank-and-file members of the music world, along with a ragtag collection of artists and celebrities including the Grammys host James Corden, Fat Joe, Zayn Malik, Fergie, Kelly Clarkson and Lisa Loeb.
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Before the show, Ms. Loeb acknowledged the question of why music has yet to reckon with sexual abuse in its ranks the way movies, media and politics have in recent months. “I know some people are saying the music industry took a little while to catch up with some of the other industries,” the singer said. “But we haven’t had as many awards ceremonies.”
The white rose seemed to provide a manageable gesture for musicians to show they were paying attention and stand generally against injustice, though the specifics of the mission could get lost. At the preshow event, the singer Reba McEntire invoked the golden rule, adding, “Let’s just treat people kindly.”
On the red carpet, artists wearing a white rose included Lady Gaga, Ms. Clarkson, Khalid, Sam Smith, the Chainsmokers and more, though others opted not to adorn their outfits. (TMZ reported on Friday that New York florists had been flooded with requests and were even turning some people away; Voices in Entertainment said on Saturday that it had received a mass rose donation and would be handing out flowers at the Hotel Pennsylvania on Sunday.) The E! red carpet correspondent Giuliana Rancic had the flower affixed to her microphone, while others, like SZA, Cardi B and Sarah Silverman, held their flower in hand or even in mouth.
Cardi B, who was nominated in two rap categories, was more characteristically pointed when addressing sexism in the music industry. “‘I can get you on a billboard,’” she said, mimicking a male executive before adding: “‘Whoops, there’s my penis.’”
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