On Sunday’s Oscars broadcast, First Lady Michelle Obama was the surprise presenter of the award for Best Picture. What isn’t a surprise is that, in the wake of the Academy Awards show, some people have criticized her appearance as frivolous and not befitting her role as First Lady.
I’m heartily sick and tired of this kind of sanctimonious stuff. I don’t see anything wrong with a First Lady participating in the Academy Awards broadcast if she wants to do so (although I’m not sure that, if I were the First Gentleman, I’d want to be part of the phony, kissy-face Hollywood scene). It’s not as if Michelle Obama — or any other First Lady — is expected to be pondering weighty affairs of state at all hours of the day and night. Even her husband, who unlike Michelle Obama was elected to his current leadership position, is not begrudged an occasional vacation, golf outing, or basketball game. Why should anyone care if the First Lady wants to spend an hour of her time appearing on an awards show?
People who think First Ladies should act like Mamie Eisenhower are kidding themselves. The line between politicians and celebrities has long since been blurred to non-existence. Presidents and presidential candidates and First Ladies have been appearing on talk shows for years now; how is the Oscars broadcast materially different? Hollywood is one of America’s most successful industries, one that employs a lot of people and generates a lot of income. Would people object if the First Lady presented an award to, say, the Teacher of the Year or recognized the owner of a successful business that opened a new plant? If not, why object to the First Lady’s acknowledgement of the film industry?
In our struggling country, Michelle Obama’s decision to present the Best Picture Oscar is the least of our concerns. If the First Lady wants to share a bit in the glitz and glamor of Oscar Night, I’m not troubled by her decision. Now, can we start talking about the real, important issues of the day?