The 77th annual Venice Film Festival kicked off this week, in person, regardless of how anxious the idea of entering a cinema or standing around a bunch of beautiful, rich, and famous unmasked people might make the average person. (Or is that just me?) When images from the red carpet began to emerge, I was hopeful the majority of attendees would opt to be photographed in masks—ideally incorporating an ornamental mask into their undoubtedly extravagant looks. Alas, very few were brave enough to even allude to mask-wearing. That is, very few including Tilda Swinton, whose golden stingray-shaped face mask wand was gorgeous and also completely unprotective and ultimately absurd.
But it’s cute? And according to The Daily Beast, Swinton held it to receive a Lifetime Achievement Award, so I imagine adhering to World Health Organization recommendations was not at the top of the list in the 15 minutes it takes to march from one end of a carpet to the other.
I almost feel the need to applaud how brazen this particular face mask/golden scepter is—unlike, say, a face mask made of chainmale, which seems like an obvious stylistic choice and a bit more coded in its porous futility, a stingray-shaped wand screams, “I know the importance of wearing a mask, but I’m choosing to get the shot instead. My real mask will greet me at the red of this carpet. Idiots, all of you!”
In 100 years, when the global health pandemic known as the coronavirus is all but a distant memory, this Swinton look will be remembered as ostentatious Louis XVI cosplay, and her wand, a brilliant aesthetic item. For that reason alone, I can’t be too mad. Plus, when held directly in front of her face, the wand mask gives off a dramatic, wordless expression of “Bye, bitch!” And that is art.