Behold, Tilda Swinton's Stingray Face Mask

Illustration for article titled Behold, Tilda Swintons Stingray Face Mask
Image: ALBERTO PIZZOLI (Getty Images)

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.

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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!”

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Illustration for article titled Behold, Tilda Swintons Stingray Face Mask
Image: Ernesto S. Ruscio (Getty Images)

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.

Senior Writer, Jezebel. My debut book, LARGER THAN LIFE: A History of Boy Bands, is out now.

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DISCUSSION

For some context, Italy recorded its first case on February 15, and in just over 2 months (April 28) hit 200k cases. But today, they’re at... 272k cases. For the majority of June/July, daily cases were in the 200-300 range. That’s likely why VFF producers went ahead with this.

But, and of course there’s a but because it’s 2020 and talking about COVID-19: there does seem to be the makings of a second wave, starting in August. Nowhere near as bad as the original onset, but daily cases are now up towards 900-1500 for the past couple weeks.  So as someone who loves Tilda and will protect her at all costs, this worries me a bit! Great lewk, but maybe not worth it?