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Media hyped the first lady at Oscars

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By Carla Roman 
Assistant Opinions Editor 


In case some of you missed it, the Academy Awards this year played host to some very elite guests and entertainment.

We enjoyed the crude, blunt and almost too sexist humor from host Seth Macfarlane, as well as strong performances from the stars of “Chicago”, “Dream Girls” and this year’s nominated musical “Les Miserables”. Yet, as cliché as it sounds, the Academy Awards truly did save it’s best surprise for last.

Two hours into the show, Jack Nicholson walks on stage to present the last award and yes, it’s finally time to announce the winner for Best Picture.

The guests, nominees and you (the viewer) get quiet and wonder who will take the little gold man home. And then, it happens. Nicholson declares that he has a co-presenter and that he/she is live from Washington D.C. So the projector screen roles down and surprise! It is First Lady Michelle Obama in her first Hollywood appearance looking young, happy and very elegant in a silver Naeem Khan gown. How exciting.

My first reaction as a viewer was, “that’s pretty neat. Now tell me who won!” I’m sure that I along with everyone there was honestly more interested in knowing the winner for Best Picture than the fact that Michelle Obama was co-presenting.

For all I care, the presenter could have been Barack Obama himself and I would have thought “hey, that’s cool,” and then focused on who won.

Anyway, Obama does her small speech, and then Jack Nicholson and her get to the moment we’ve been waiting for. Obama gets the envelope and announces the winner. Her whole input in the Academy ends there, the screen rolls up, and the focus shifts towards Ben Affleck and the cast of “Argo”.

I personally was surprised at the headlines the next day reproaching Obama for her appearance. Newspapers, magazines and press were criticizing Michelle for stepping out of her “First Lady role” and doing something so “Hollywood.”

The Daily News ran an article in which the sub headline said “Obama delivering the nights biggest prize was called ‘jarring’ by pundits.” The article also featured quotes by Jenifer Rubin, a political blogger for The Washington Post, in which she says “now the First Lady feels entitled, with military personnel as props, to intrude on other forms of entertaining (this time for the benefit of the Hollywood glitterati who so lavishly paid for her husband’s election).”

Other articles featured in The New York Times were exploring the rising debate of whether it was proper, dignified or awesome for the first lady of the United States to dirty her hands with a motion picture envelope.

Many news sources were also discussing the controversy behind the uniformed military men and woman behind her and how Obama failed to even mention them. According to some news sources it seemed Obama used American military personnel as stage props or a “very safe background set.”

First, to counter that, the show Obama appeared on was called “The Academy Awards” not “Political Agenda: Praising the Military”. Therefore, why would Obama and her writers find it logical to give her a speech in which she discusses and gives thanks to the brave men and woman fighting for our country?

The Academy Awards is centered around the best films of the year and giving the people that took time to make these films recognition. Therefore, Obama’s only task/agenda should have been in praising the filmmaker

Her goal was not to discuss the movies and then turn it into a political stunt, which is why I believe she steered clear from anything not related to the films or the Awards show itself.

On the other hand, I can see where conservatives would come from in believing that political figures shouldn’t be meddling with Hollywood. Politics should be politics and Hollywood should be Hollywood. Bringing in political figures like Michelle Obama could create a sense that Hollywood is left-leaning.

Honestly though, I thought it was very comforting to see our President’s wife taking part in our society’s culture. It shows interest and support along with appreciation for the art of film, screenwriting and directing.

Having Mrs. Obama as a co-presenter created a sense of comfort in knowing that even our political leaders do things we do, like watch and follow the Academy Awards.

Poor Michelle Obama, the woman was having fun, doing something nice and polite [nothing outrageous] and she’s getting slammed for it. She was presenting an award, not crump dancing on live television; people need to give the woman a break.

If you look at the bigger picture, which was the award show itself, hopefully, you can see how insignificant her role actually was. Michelle Obama was approached and asked if she would do the honor of presenting an award, and she said yes. Her role wasn’t to create a political stunt or statement on her end. Her choice in presenting stemmed from her appreciation for film and desire to give back to the industry that captivates our minds on screen.

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