Surprise! No one will be shocked to learn that many didn’t like First Lady Michelle Obama’s satellite appearance at the Oscars last night. Obama, surrounded by military members, helped Jack Nicholson announce that Argo had won Best Picture. Nicholson remarked afterwards, “Well, nobody is going to mess around with that, are they?”
False. In no time at all, there were hateful tweets about the appearance and anger at conflating politics with Hollywood celebrity. The Washington Post wrote: “It is not enough that President Obama pops up at every sporting event in the nation. 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). I’m sure the left will holler that once again conservatives are being grouchy and have it in for the Obamas.”
But while viewers are entitled to their opinions about the appearance, the oft-reported statement that it was the first time a First Lady (or even a President) had been part of the Oscars is wrong. In 2002, Laura Bush was part of a pre-taped segment, “What Do Movies Mean To You?” President Roosevelt spoke by radio at the Oscars in 1941, and Ronald Reagan (a former actor) taped an Oscar greeting as well during his Presidency. And, while not quite the same thing, former President Bill Clinton showed up in person to present Lincoln at the Golden Globes this year.
The real surprise coming out of the White House is that announcing the Best Picture winner at the Oscars was only the second coolest thing Michelle Obama did this weekend. Number one? “Mom dancing” with an in-drag Jimmy Fallon.