When I encounter criticism about President Barack and Michelle Obama, I take it with the proverbial grain of salt. Informed disagreements with his policies notwithstanding, critiques about his background, blackness, or wife with a “huge posterior” are usually dismissed.
But recently, a point of view keeps popping up that I think is worth discussing. I was working for the website at an entertainment network and covering Michelle Obama’s push-ups on “Ellen,” when a colleague remarked that she has made the most television appearances of any First Lady. We live in a society addicted to television, was my quick retort to her. And, I thought, is it her fault people love her so much?
When FLOTUS told People magazine she would trade places with Beyoncé (which was followed by the superstar writing an adoring letter to Mrs. O), my co-worker shot me a smug, disapproving glare. When President Obama name-dropped Young Jeezy at the White House Correspondents Dinner, she behaved as if the Obamas’ knowledge of rap music and famous BFFs were proof that they were dabbling too much in pop culture and not focused enough on politics.
Fox News tastelessly invited beleaguered actress Lindsay Lohan and reality TV star Kim Kardashian to that same dinner, proving that my colleague’s sentiments are held by many.
If the Obamas are celebrity friendly, it’s not necessarily a bad thing. President Obama and Michelle Obama have been compared to the Kennedys ad nauseam, and celebrity is something the couples both share. A charming, attractive, relatively young president (who can hit a note!) and a stylish, beautiful, intelligent First Lady will win fans in the public and on the polls. Is that a crime?
Furthermore, we live in a celebrity-driven culture. The Obamas are smart to leverage their celebrity endorsements to appeal to the fame-obsessed masses. If celebrities can sell everything from clothing to water, can’t they sway voters?
The Obama/Biden re-election campaign hopes so. Beyoncé’s letter of praise to Michelle Obama was recently recorded as a show of support for President Obama’s second term. And Beyoncé’s only one of the celebrities who has taken the Obama campaign on as their passion project. Anna Wintour and Sarah Jessica Parker recently held a fundraising dinner (at Parker’s home, no less) to raise funds for the campaign. Oprah Winfrey, George Clooney, Halle Berry, Kerry Washington, Maxwell, and others have also been open about their support of the president.
What are your thoughts on the Obama/Biden celebrity endorsements, Clutchettes? Are the Obamas too celebrity friendly? Is this just another groundless jab at the first couple?