CHICAGO (AP) — Michelle Obama says it was “absolutely not surprising” to her that her satellite appearance at the Academy Awards ceremony provoked a national conversation about whether it was appropriate, after some conservative critics accused her of selfishly crashing the event in an attempt to upstage it.
She attributed the chatter to a culture shift that has spawned legions of bloggers, tweeters and others who talk about anything and everything all the time.
“Shoot, my bangs set off a national conversation. My shoes can set off a national conversation. That’s just sort of where we are. We’ve got a lot of talking going on,” the first lady said only somewhat jokingly Thursday before an appearance in Chicago, her hometown.
“It’s like everybody’s kitchen-table conversation is now accessible to everybody else so there’s a national conversation about anything.”
In what was not the first-ever Oscar appearance by a first lady, Mrs. Obama was beamed live from the White House into Sunday’s ceremony in Los Angeles to unseal the envelope and announce that the night’s final award, for Best Picture, would go to “Argo.” In 2002, Laura Bush appeared at the ceremony on videotape.
Americans have long been fascinated by their first ladies, scrutinizing everything from their clothes and hair to the issues they promote and how they raise their children.
Mrs. Obama acknowledged that she and President Barack Obama have added appeal, and perhaps sometimes are subject to extra scrutiny, because they are the first black family in the White House but also a young couple (she turned 49 last month; he’s 51) with young children (daughters Sasha, 11, and Malia, 14).
She said she doesn’t give a second thought to critical comments about what she does as first lady.
Her strategy, she said, is to do things that further her larger goals and Oscar night fit with her support for the arts.