Oh, the Mani Cam — what started as a lighthearted red carpet gimmick has turned into an unlikely controversial symbol of yet another example of gender inequality in Hollywood.
For those who don’t spend winter Sunday nights watching award shows — and, by association, E!’s red carpet specials — the Mani Cam is exactly what it sounds like. Co-hosts Ryan Seacrest and Giuliana Rancic, in between interviewing celebrities, urge stars to stick their hand in a box outfitted with a camera. Inside the box, there’s a small red carpet, and celebs can “walk” their fingers down it, showing off their perfectly manicured nails and expensive jewels.
But this awards season, the Mani Cam became the victim of some unexpected backlash.There have always been some bumps along the way — Elisabeth Moss flipped off the Mani Cam at the Golden Globes last year. At the 2014 Oscars, Jennifer Lawrence yelled a message at Emma Stone. However, the world turned on the Mani Cam after the SAG Awards last month, when several high-profile actresses, including Jennifer Aniston and Julianne Moore, refused to play along.
It appeared to be a watershed moment for red carpet shows, which have long been a place where female stars are scrutinized much more harshly than their male counterparts. The stories swiftly rolled in.
“On the Red Carpet, a Revolt Builds Over the Pageantry,” wrote the New York Times.
“From Twirlgate to the Mani Cam, women speak out against gendered treatment,” said the Toronto Star.
“Actresses scoff at the SAG awards red carpet ‘mani cam’,” announced CBS News, which called it “a sign of a growing gender equality movement.”
Then came the news from E! — the Mani Cam will not be present at the Academy Awards on Sunday. This is the first time in quite awhile that the Mani Cam (which made its debut at the 2012 Emmys, joining the Glam Cam, Stiletto Cam, Fashion Cam and Limo Cam) was not touted as one of the many features of E!’s red carpet coverage.
We were surprised by this — could it have something to do with the negative Mani Cam headlines lately?
We checked in with an E! rep for the reasoning, who said no: In fact, the decision to be Mani Cam-less at the Oscars was made “many months ago.”
“That camera will not be included in Sunday’s coverage and was actually never planned to be part of our coverage for the Oscars due to the limited space we have on that specific carpet,” the rep said. “Because of these space restrictions, the decision was made prior to awards season to not have the mani cam, the clutch cam or the 360 glam cam on the carpet.”
So, we will be without several cams on the Oscars. Regardless of the reasoning, it’s a victory for those offended by the Mani Cam’s very existence. The only loss? The lack of Mani Cam means a lack of more awkward live TV moments, and for that, we are truly saddened.
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