Magazine | March 7, 2011, Issue

What Do All of Those Ribbons Mean?

An Oscar™ Watcher’s Guide

Everyone loves movies! And everyone loves movie stars! And everyone especially loves movie stars with a message!

So while you’re watching your favorite stars walk along the red carpet, you might wonder about those ribbons they’re all wearing. So many colors and textures and shapes and designs! What do they all mean?

Feel free to snip out this guide and keep it with you as you enjoy the Oscar™ telecast.

Pink: This is an easy one! Pink ribbons celebrate breast-cancer research and advocate for a cure! Isn’t it great that world-famous celebrities work so hard to eliminate breast cancer by going to the trouble to attach — or get a stylist to attach — a ribbon to their glamorous outfits?

Dollar-bill green: I support the Democratic party.

Pyramid-shaped: This shows solidarity with the people of Egypt as they utilize powerful social media like Facebook and Twitter to construct an entirely new government! (If the ribbon is pinned using a gun- or tank-shaped object, then the pin acknowledges the powerful role of the Egyptian military in the future of that troubled region.)

A swastika with a line through it: The celebrity-wearer is taking a courageous stand against the horrors of the Nazi regime and the Holocaust.

Green:  Celebrate the earth! Movie stars love the earth! The attachment of a shape-specific pin or charm to the ribbon — a tiny windmill, for instance, or a bright-yellow button — signifies that particular celebrity’s personal choice for the fuel of the future. Adorned with a tiny, jeweled sad-face symbol, the ribbon acknowledges that the celebrity-wearer has utilized a private jet in the previous 72 hours.

Spotted:  Please have your pets spayed or neutered!

Scimitar-shaped:  Solidarity with the people of Bahrain! (Keep your eyes peeled! We don’t expect many of these.)

Stars and Stripes:  I support the troops! Especially since November 2008, these have become very popular. When a tiny, jeweled “*” symbol is attached, it connotes that the celebrity-wearer supports the troops, but on a case-by-case, troop-by-troop basis.

Brown:  I compost! This signifies that the celebrity-wearer gardens and lives in an organically sustainable way, and that his or her personal residence(s) are low-impact. With a small “*” symbol attached, connotes that the celebrity-wearer may not in fact live in an organically sustainable way all the time.

#page#Striped Red and White:  Health care for all! The wearer of this ribbon is advocating a national health-insurance system roughly equivalent to the health care provided to qualified members of the Screen Actors Guild, which includes no-co-pay prescription anti-anxiety medications, breast implants, lip filling, and other “med-spa” services.

Barbed Wire:  Close Guantanamo! Very popular in past years, but totally absent since 2009.

Electric greenscreen:  Some celebrities have elected to wear an “electric greenscreen” ribbon, which allows Oscar™ telecast producers to digitally superimpose any color or design onto the ribbon from the control room. Certain celebrities may elect to rotate their causes throughout the night — or perhaps will choose to adopt one they see someone else wearing — and the use of greenscreen technology will allow them to make those adjustments. Additionally, national brands such as Doritos, Geico Insurance, and pain reliever Celebrex will “sponsor” certain celebrity-wearers by purchasing time on their ribbons.

Dirty yellow:  We <3 Tunisia! Also, the desert-sand hue connotes solidarity with the uprisings in the entire Middle East, and where appropriate, with the governments attempting to retain control.

Purple:  Let’s cure colon cancer! Icky. Don’t expect many of these. In general, celebrities don’t like mentioning the colon.

Red:  Let’s cure AIDS! Probably won’t see many of these, either. AIDS as a cause has slipped in prestige, below breast cancer and Alzheimer’s, but remains one level above celiac disease and toenail fungus.

Black: This is to remind all viewers of the tragedy in Tucson, and to express wishes for a full recovery to Rep. Gabrielle Giffords. When adorned with a small pin in the shape of a broken radio microphone, condemns the far-right talk-radio personalities who encouraged and celebrated the Tucson shooting.

Drooping, any color:  Any ribbon that’s either poorly pinned or drooping connotes the personal involvement of the celebrity-wearer in the fight against Chronic Fatigue Syndrome. CFS is an often-misunderstood disease that afflicts thousands of people, but is especially severe among those who have insufficient or poorly trained domestic help.

Beige:  Let’s bring civility back to the discourse! When accompanied by a small Republican elephant pin, connotes: Especially you, Republicans!

Rolled-up $100 bill:  Free Charlie Sheen!

In This Issue


Politics & Policy

Jailbreak Conservatives

To hear state representative Jerry Madden describe it, his effort to shrink Texas’s sprawling, 170,000-inmate prison system was pretty simple. “I figured we could either speed people coming out, or ...


Politics & Policy

Pawlenty to Like

Kevin Krawczyk is disappointed. A manager at the Family Christian Store chain, he is hosting a book-signing for Tim Pawlenty in Lombard, Ill. “We were expecting more,” he says. The ...
Politics & Policy

A Frightful Democracy

What if the fundamental terms of our debate over Egypt’s revolution are wrong? Supposedly, the revolt that toppled Egyptian president Hosni Mubarak presented American policymakers with an agonizing choice: Do ...
Politics & Policy

With the Warriors

Patrol Base Fires, Sangin District, Helmand Province, Afghanistan The view from this platoon outpost in southern Afghanistan is unobstructed, both visually and strategically. On all sides stretch flat, bare, ...

Books, Arts & Manners

City Desk

Usable Past

I first started buying other people’s pasts when I wore second-hand clothes. Wide silk ties, tweed pants heavy as iron, cabana sets made “for the Stars of Hollywood” — I ...


Politics & Policy


SAYING NOTHING ON WALNUT STREET For once thinking of the right Thing to say, not later on: At a Beckett play at Annenberg A Penn student snapped open A can as the second act started And ...
Politics & Policy


Against the Seventeenth Amendment In an otherwise excellent article about the U.S. Senate (“The Sense of the Senate,” February 21), William Voegeli errs in saying that “the Lincoln–Douglas debates were the ...
Politics & Policy

The Week

‐ People do have a lot of false ideas about Obama. Some of them think he’s a moderate. ‐ The guiding theme of President Obama’s new budget is “more.” Compared with ...
The Bent Pin

The Middling Class

When American Anglophiles need a fix our drug of choice is Masterpiece Theatre, but the days of savoring Edwardian class hierarchies may be over. Our all-time favorite, Upstairs, Downstairs, needed ...

Most Popular

Politics & Policy

Building a National American Conservatism

It seems like just yesterday that I undertook my first campaign for public office. I knocked on virtually every door in the small city of West Miami in my bid to be elected to its city commission. It was during that campaign, on the front porches and in the living rooms of the families I would ultimately ... Read More

Confirm Pompeo

What on earth are the Democrats doing? President Trump has nominated CIA director Mike Pompeo, eminently qualified by any reasonable standard, to be America’s 70th secretary of state. And yet the Senate Democrats, led by Chuck Schumer, have perverted the advice and consent clause of the Constitution into a ... Read More
PC Culture

The Dark Side of the Starbucks Stand-Down

By now the story is all over America. Earlier this month, two black men entered a Starbucks store in Philadelphia. They were apparently waiting for a friend before ordering — the kind of thing people do every day — and one of the men asked to use the restroom. A Starbucks employee refused, saying the restroom ... Read More

Save the Eighth

There are many things to admire in Ireland’s written constitution. Most especially, the text includes, since a popular referendum in 1983, the Eighth Amendment: “The State acknowledges the right to life of the unborn and, with due regard to the equal right to life of the mother, guarantees in its laws to ... Read More