Arjun Singh of National Review Online describes the recent Met gala as an example of “gilded irony.”

When Edith Wharton wrote The Age of Innocence, her 1920 novel of the Gilded Age, she drew back the veil on the hypocrisy, arrogance, and tone-deafness of New York high society. She might have been surprised to see how today’s elites openly and explicitly embrace their gilded privilege.

Such was the case at [the] Met Gala, the annual celebrity confab hosted by Vogue magazine’s Anna Wintour at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. Known for its bold red-carpet fashion and ostentation, the event is where the who’s-who of the entertainment, fashion, and corporate worlds, and sometimes politics, schmooze and party through the night on the first Monday in May. One of the world’s most exclusive social events, it’s been an ode to gilded — and guiltless — excess for the last 75 years. …

… Metaphor and reality were fused at this year’s event, whose theme was, in fact, the Gilded Age. Perhaps Wintour chose that theme as a subtle yet searing joke on the attendees. Another interesting aspect of the evening was that, at both the Gala and the two after-parties, I observed that Covid seemed nonexistent. There was no proof of vaccination or negative test required for entry. Nor were masks required.

In itself, this is not a bad thing; Covid is receding and should be treated as a waning problem. What made it bad was the sheer hypocrisy. Even as the city’s movie theaters, Broadway theaters, many concert halls, and other venues require masks and proof of vaccination, here were the stars themselves, maskless, enjoying themselves through the night. When asked about this seeming irony, the performers I spoke with, including Lin-Manuel Miranda and Maisey Williams, had nothing to say.

A hundred years after Wharton, even irony is gilded.