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Posted at 2:10 PM ET, 09/ 1/2010

When Emmy fashion policing goes too far

By Jen Chaney

With any awards show, a little fashion policing is to be expected. I mean, it wouldn't be the 2010 Emmys, for example, if Joan Rivers, Giuliana Rancic and the rest of the "E! Fashion Police" team didn't get together and pick apart everyone's outfits the next day. (Rivers may have pushed it a bit, though, when she critiqued Anna Paquin's shiny, gold, shoulder-padded frock by referring to the "True Blood" star as a "mater-whore.")

Suffice it to say, the world of fashion criticism can get a little mean. (I wasn't exactly kind to January Jones myself during my post-Emmy red carpet breakdown.)

But it seems that certain rules should be followed here, one of which is: criticize in real time on the Internet if you must, but don't blast people's gowns on live television before the ceremony has even started, especially on the network hosting the show. On Sunday night, NBC broke that rule.

During the pre-show red carpet special that preceded the Emmy telecast, Billy Bush and commentator Ryan Patterson broke down the best and worst looks of the night, criticizing people like Jones and Paquin for their poor choices in formal wear before the Emmy opening number could even get underway.

In what I thought was one of the more egregious comments in the segment, Patterson gave Kim Kardashian a back-handed compliment, praising her Marchesa gown, then noting that it's hard to dress someone like Kardashian because she's so curvy. Surely if she heard this, Kardashian was thinking: "Um, thanks ... I guess?"

Worst of all, the pre-show was broadcast -- as both Entertainment Weekly and E! Online previously noted -- inside the Nokia Theatre, allowing the stars being blasted to, potentially, hear every word. Kathy Griffin voiced her empathy for Jones in particular, telling E!: "They showed her on the freaking JumboTron and then they were talking smack about her." When Griffin thinks you've been unnecessarily rude, you know you've really been unnecessarily rude.

It may seem a little ridiculous to suggest that anything like, oh, decorum or politeness exists in the realm of the admittedly junior high-ish world of tearing down what other people are wearing. But it does seem like there are some boundaries -- or at least should be.

Do you think NBC went too far here? Is there a way to do a worst-dressed list that is void of cruel and catty language? And what sort of fashion policing rules and guidelines should be written in order to make sure everyone plays by the same book?

(Thanks to Mallory, a loyal reader who suggested that we explore this topic, which got lost in the week's Emmy/"Dancing With the Stars"/Conan O'Brien shuffle.)

By Jen Chaney  | September 1, 2010; 2:10 PM ET
Categories:  Awards Season, Celebrities, Fashion  | Tags:  Emmy Awards  
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No, I don't think they went too far. We've been seeing these best/worst lists for a long time now. NBC was just giving the audience the scoop IRT. Honestly the catty language did not even register with me... maybe I've been reading the Fug Girls too much?

Posted by: Guest1234 | September 1, 2010 3:08 PM | Report abuse

They showed the worst dressed list in the auditorium? Bad Form, NBC. (Especially for a program that call's itself tv's family reunion.) Did NBC or Bush apologize for the gaffe?

Frankly, I think these fashion policers are trying way too hard at a time when most of the ladies on a the carpet look far better than they did 20 yrs ago pre-stylists. (Remember Demi Moore's bicycle shorts outfit? Or Kim Basigner's one armed dress?)

Most of these women have insane bodies and would probably look great in paper bags. The folks who work the carpet have lost perspective of what people look like, and seem of have issues of their own. (Isn't E's DiPandi constantly talking about dieting and spray tanning?) Why not criticize the designer instead of the actress?

Hopefully Kathy G will give us the scoop on the issue during her next Bravo special!

Posted by: flippityflop1 | September 1, 2010 3:14 PM | Report abuse

Seriously, can't you hold your fake outrage for something bigger than celebrity fashion? You are taking this far more seriously than Joan Rivers is!

These are super-wealthy celebrities and Joan is a comedian. If you're going to watch Joan Rivers, you've got to know that she's always edgy and never politically correct.

Frankly, I couldn't care less about red carpet fashion or anything celebrity-related, but when I came across this the other night and watched it, I never laughed so hard in my life! I'll save my disgust for shows like "Extra" & "The Insider" who truly do spend their 30 minutes every night tearing down celebrities personally and professionally without any of the laughs.

Go Joan! She's the best!!!

Posted by: shle896 | September 1, 2010 4:05 PM | Report abuse

NBC and especially Joan Rivers went way too far. There's a difference between opinion and being obnoxious and they were obnoxious.

I loved Anna Paquin's dress. She's forward thinking without being totally off the wall and obviously comfortable with who she is. She should be praised instead of ridiculed. I would love for my daughter to grow up with her confidence, style and grace.

Shame on NBC!!!

Posted by: bbknot | September 1, 2010 5:44 PM | Report abuse

Per Joan Rivers: this is her shtick. She's always been an insult comic, just softer than some. I think she's gotten too impressed with her own sense of style over the years, though. I used to agree with her, I don't so much anymore.

Per the fashion shows: I watch them mostly to get a better look at the dresses. My family used to own a costuming company, so my interest in fashion is technical - I'm always curious to see how people dress themselves (or how stylists dress their clients).

It's Guiliana Rancic who annoys me - I know her family also comes from a tailoring background, so I understand her credibility. But her personal sense of style is so common and flashy on the Red Carpet, I feel like her criticizing other people's choices is the pot calling the kettle black.

It's also some of the gay men fashion experts. Most of them dress horribly so them criticizing other's choices - especially women's - is annoying.

As for the immediate critiquing of the dresses? It's not about any strong feelings about the dresses or protecting a star's ego - it's just rude. If you don't have anything nice to say, don't say anything at all - even if you have airtime to fill.

Ryan Patterson and Billy Bush have all sorts of media which they can manipulate after the fact - it wouldn't kill them to wait 12 hours to post their opinions. It's catty to do what they did.

Posted by: Chasmosaur1 | September 1, 2010 5:49 PM | Report abuse

Joan Rivers is a nasty, deformed, vicious shrew, not worth worrying about. And Giuliana could be her clone.

Posted by: Jayne | September 2, 2010 12:25 PM | Report abuse

Much like how I don't snarkily evaluate everyone's clothing and hair choices prior to serving food to people whom I have invited to my house for a dinner party, I don't think NBC should have been doing so while hosting the Emmys. There is certainly time and space after the fact to critique, if they must, but doing so after exchanging friendly banter on the red carpet is cruel, indeed.

It seems that NBC was much too obsessed with trying to get an edge on today's instant-message culture. Broadcasting their picks & pans before the curtain rises, forcing us to listen to Twitter comments from Emmy viewers...

Posted by: OneSockOn | September 2, 2010 1:48 PM | Report abuse

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