“What are you wearing! Who did your makeup and hair!”—questions we have all heard being asked at red carpet awards shows. While these awards shows are supposed to be about celebrating and rewarding the hard work and dedication of actors, many red carpet events instead end up being focused on the designer of outfits, the amount of time and money spent getting ready, and what insane pre-show diets are the current trend.
Enter a wonderful social media idea brought about by Twitter, the Television Academy and our very own alumnus Amy Poehler. Instead of having female attendees answer the vapid and superficial questions that traditionally dominate awards show interviews, Amy Poehler’s Smart Girls Organization asked twitter members to tweet out their best questions using the hashtag #SmartGirlsAsk. The best of these questions ranging from, “what is one thing you do when you’re feeling stuck creatively” to “name a charity you are passionate about and explain why it matters to you” were answered by famous celebrities such as Jane Lynch, Amy Schumer and Amy Poehler herself. Their responses were filmed on the red carpet and then live tweeted. The hashtag became so popular that even well known names such as Britney Spears and Hillary Clinton got in on the #SmartGirlsAsk action.
This event was a great example of the positive effect social media can have on society. Using social media’s ability to be real-time news and crowd-source able, thousands of questions were generated using a distinguishable hashtag. Fans sitting in their homes could now feel like they were a part of the red carpet experience because of social media. In addition, this social media event was beneficial to celebrities too as they could show their intellect and answer meaningful questions rather than be subject to the media’s vicious focus on appearance. Many of these celebrities who are already lauded for being a size zero or having the shiniest hair now could be praised in a much more significant way.
On the business end of the partnership, Twitter and the Television Academy both made a great decision in being a part of this hashtag event. The television industry and the tech industry are both heavily criticized for their lack of female representation. Twitter’s image has been battered in recent months with news of its inhospitable workplace environment revealed in a gender discrimination case. Partnering with an organization that champions educating young girls and making them feel empowered was a great move to improve their image and show that they are supportive of the gender equality fight. Similarly, Hollywood is known for its lack of female presence in directing and lead acting roles. To support the women who make these awards show possible is certainly the least the Television Academy could do to be a part of an important social cause.
Lastly, this was the first time a social media event like this has happened at a red carpet award show so Twitter, the Television Academy and Smart Girls Organization will be viewed as the leaders in this change movement. Perhaps asking more meaningful interview questions will catch on beyond red carpets and become the standard for media integrity. And if this is the case, these three organizations will be able to say they were the ones who made it happen. As we have come to find in many social justice movements, you never want to be on the wrong side of history.
While social media has often been criticized as a platform that encourages negative commentary and cyber bullying, the #SmartGirlsAsk event has proved that this does not have to be the case. I absolutely loved watching this hashtag play out and couldn’t have been happier to know that it was started by none other than a Boston College alumnus! Hopefully #SmartGirlsAsk can serve as a catalyst for even more positive social media campaigns.