Monday, February 25, 2013

Those Adoring Americans

White House photo by Pete Souza
The Academy Awards had a special presenter last night.  Michelle Obama, with the help of Jack Nicholson, announced the award for Best Picture.
It was midnight (White House time) and Mrs. Obama was in a silver Naeem Khan gown and surrounded by members of the military in dress uniform.  It was all quite natural – just your regular midnight Oscar party.

Or was it?  Seth MacFarlane, master of the unexpected, was the host for the Oscar festivities.  He brought a chuckle to the typically somber Tommy Lee Jones and gave a fanciful welcome to Meryl Streep as an actress needing no introduction.  He seemed primed to take on the rich and the powerful.

But did he?

While Mr. MacFarlane poked fun at pretention and phoniness throughout the evening, he had no comment for Mrs. Obama’s time on the national stage.  Her appearance was cast as a natural and appropriate event.

And what was the “event”?  It was the First lady giving a short speech, with uniformed service members in the background.  The men and women of the military displayed a choreographed sense of awe, with their eyes fixed on the back of Mrs. Obama’s head and frozen smiles in place for the cameras.

It was an instance of the “adoring Americans” staging we see so frequently these days.  Whether it is factory workers, first responders, college students or military members, Americans from various identity groups are used as props for political messaging.  They display their adoration as the cameras roll.

We “get it,” but it still seems oddly inappropriate.  Our military service members, in particular, deserve better than to be used as a prop.

What’s the takeaway from the 2013 Oscars?  I think our entertainment industry has exposed a new reality.

In the 21st century, the only thing it holds sacred is the Democratic Party.

Ann Althouse sees the use of military personnel as props inappropriate as well.

UPDATE 2/27/2013:
Joanna Weiss at The Boston Globe fashions herself as one who seeks out the underlying story in the news.  On 2/26/2013, she pens a column on the Oscar presentation by Michelle Obama and discusses the portent and reaction to Mrs. Obama's remarks, but doesn't mention the staging of Those Adoring Americans.  It's as if they are "so right and natural" that no mention need be made...

UPDATE 4/3/2013:
President Obama upstages his wife by casting Denver police officers as his backdrop.  More Adoring Americans...

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