People Are Obsessed with Michelle Obama's 'Not Amused' Face


After Monday’s hubbub about First Lady Michelle Obama’s bitchy resting face at Nelson Mandela’s funeral, the New York Post has lived up to its legacy of wildly offensive covers with this latest, the headline of which implies that FLOTUS was mad at her husband for talking to the “attractive” Prime Minister of Denmark.

On Monday afternoon, the Post put out a piece entitled “Michelle not amused by Obama’s memorial selfie” which was generally in keeping with the internet’s continuation of the Michele Obama Is Not Amused meme. But for many, the joking was a little too repetitive. Of the Post cover today, Judd Legum, the editor of Think Progress, tweeted, “Easier to criticize the NYPost if many other outlets didn’t print slightly more respectable versions of this garbage.” Such publications include, but are not limited to, Yahoo, Huffington Post, the Washington Post, the New York Daily News and the brilliant minds at Fox & Friends.

We should have seen this coming: yesterday there was even speculation that Michelle forced President Obama to switch seats with her so she wouldn’t have to sit next to the Danish PM herself. Many of these articles were just round-ups of people blathering on Twitter, with no analysis or commentary about how they might have no idea what they were talking about. For as Roxane Gay pointed out at Salon, our reaction to Michelle Obama’s face says more about us than it does about her:

…the response to these latest images of Michelle Obama speaks volumes about the expectations placed on black women in the public eye and how a black women’s default emotional state is perceived as angry. The black woman is ever at the ready to aggressively defend her territory. She is making her disapproval known. She never gets to simply be.

Gay notes that yes, some of the response is very much “tongue-in-cheek.” I’d add that much of it is based in our obsession with the Obama relationship, a fascination that the administration has played to in order to galvanize the American public. But as Gay points out, and as many have pointed out before, Michelle gets her own special kind of attention: “…what I’m considering here is not that there is no room for jokes, but that all too often, it is black women or caricatures of black women that serve as the punch line.”

Roberto Schmidt, the AFP photographer of the photo, wrote a blog post he wrote on the topic. In it, he supported both Obama et al for taking the selfie and FLOTUS for her face:

All around me in the stadium, South Africans were dancing, singing and laughing to honour their departed leader. It was more like a carnival atmosphere, not at all morbid.
I later read on social media that Michelle Obama seemed to be rather peeved on seeing the Danish prime minister take the picture. But photos can lie. In reality, just a few seconds earlier the first lady was herself joking with those around her, Cameron and Schmidt included. Her stern look was captured by chance.

Sometimes it feels like being Michelle Obama must be a shitty fucking job, amazing arms and all.

Images via to by Chip Somodevilla/Getty and the New York Post

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