I did not watch the entire 85th Academy Awards presentation; pageantry is not my cup of tea. However, while flipping the dials, I saw enough of the program to declare host Seth MacFarlane's humor sophomoric, and the vocal performance of the cast of Les Miserable less than in-tune. (Sorry, Les Mis fans, but I thought it was a mess!) I couldn't care less that Kristen Stewart looked a bit disheveled and disoriented or that Jennifer Lawrence fell on the way to the stage to collect her gold statue. It makes no difference to me that Argo won best picture and Lincoln did not, or that my favorite actor, Denzel Washington, lost for best actor to Daniel Day-Lewis. All this Hollywood hoopla is a bunch of tinsel town triviality, but one ingredient at this year's Oscar awards ceremony seemed totally incongruent and inappropriate and thus raised my hackles: Michelle Obama presenting the award for best picture.
Michelle Obama? Surrounded by uniformed service men and women, Mrs. Obama presented the award for best picture via video feed from the White House, another trendy achievement for the Obama administration. Last time I checked, Michelle Obama was not a movie star, despite her sparkling dress, and the United States did not have a queen holding court in front of the world's television cameras. While some viewed Mrs. Obama's appearance on the Oscar program as acceptable and downright progressive in our society of glitz and glamor, others, like myself, found it a self-serving gesture in poor taste.
Of course, in our contemporary world where many receive news via entertainment programming, and physical appearance and carefully cultivated charisma sway the masses, politicians can't be faulted for manipulating the media to further their agendas and charm the public. It's not a new trick. In 1960, President John F. Kennedy appeared on the Jack Parr show. In 1968, President Richard Nixon was on Laugh-in (Sock it to me!) President Ronald Reagan bantered with Johnny Carson on late night television, and who can forget President Bill Clinton playing the saxophone on the Arsenio Hall show in 1992? Like an infomercial gone wild, politicians sell their goods on television. In a society mesmerized by celebrity, who can blame them? But to the best of my knowledge, no other first lady participated in the Oscar awards show...not Jackie Kennedy, adored as the Queen of Camelot...not even Nancy Reagan, married to an actual actor.
On the heels of the inauguration, which in many ways, was the Michelle Obama show (through no fault of her own), we now have a different Michelle Obama show (this one she must accept responsibility for). A first lady's duty is to support her husband, and by default, act as his walking public relations bill board, but enough is enough! Mrs. Obama is dancing over the line (she recently joined Jimmy Fallon in his “Evolution of Mom” dance video). You can laugh at such antics if you want to, but in my opinion, a first lady shouldn't be “shaking her booty” - or whatever its called these days - on viral videos, and shouldn't be blurring the line between Hollywood and Washington by presenting best picture awards.
There is Hollywood, land of fluff, fantasy, and movie stars, and there is Washington, land of import, reality, and politicians, and never the twain should meet.