By Peter Grier
Michelle Obama appeared via satellite from the White House, announcing that ‘Argo’ had won. Many Best Picture contenders had political themes.
WASHINGTON — First lady Michelle Obama announced the Best Picture winner at the end of Sunday night’s Oscar telecast, in case you went to bed early and missed it. It was a remote satellite feed from the White House, with Mrs. Obama stepping out of a National Governors Association dinner to open the fabled envelope and tell the world “Argo” had won the Academy Award.
In retrospect her appearance makes sense, given that so many Best Picture contenders had political themes. There was “Lincoln” of course, which wasn’t about Lincoln cars, and the search-for-Osama bin Laden movie “Zero Dark Thirty,” as well as “Argo,” about the escape of US hostages from Iran. (Yes, you know all that, but editors make us fill in the back story, all right?)
But here’s the question of the day: Was this an appropriate mix of real and pretend politics? Or was this a step too far on the part of the White House and the academy?
Lots of people loved it, if Twitter is any guide. Many gushed about the first lady’s gown and her new bangs and the dignity of her little speech.
The nominated movies “made us laugh,” she said. “They made us weep and made us grip our armrests just a little tighter. They taught us that love can endure against all odds and transform our minds in the most surprising ways.”
The first lady has much higher approval ratings than her husband, and there’s a reason for that. She’s great at this kind of stuff and has appeared on everything from “Dr. Oz” to “The View” to “Sesame Street” and now the Oscars. Leading up to the 2012 election, the Obama campaign was much more adroit than the Romney camp at getting its candidate and and his spouse on popular shows and websites. That’s just one aspect of a perceived Democratic lead in dealing with technology that was the subject of a long piece in a recent New York Times Magazine.