On Thursday, August 29, 2012, I wrote a blog about selfies, which are personally snapped pictures of oneself. Those can be fun and harmless, but I was focusing on the kind of selfy taken by inexcusably ignorant young people at exceedingly inappropriate places, such as the Holocaust Memorial, Chernobyl, Auschwitz and funerals.
Back then, I never imagined I’d be writing another article about selfies, only this time involving President Obama.
But I guess it makes sense, doesn’t it? I mean, only really immature, really egotistical… ummm… individuals would seriously contemplate documenting themselves smiling and laughing, looking cute or cool, at the site of a personal or global tragedy.
Put like that, I suppose I’m only surprised why I didn’t automatically peg the President for the selfish selfy type. He’s certainly got the arrogance and insensitivity for it.
Now, to be perfectly fair, he wasn’t the one who snapped the picture at Nelson Mandela’s memorial service in Johannesburg, South Africa. That would be Denmark’s Prime Minister Helle Thorning-Schmidt, who posed for her own smartphone camera with a grinning Obama and Great Britain Prime Minister David Cameron leaning in close on either shoulder for the shot.
But like I said, Obama is clearly a willing participant in this private little party. Judging by the pictures taken, he’s not feeling uncomfortable about this pose at all. Non-selfy photos from a reporter’s lens the three of them laughing over the picture like they’re three tipsy college students at a bar instead of three world leaders at a funeral.
Non-selfy photos from a reporter’s lens actually show them being something less than solemn a few times throughout the service, especially President Obama and Thorning-Schmidt.
Also worth noting is how First Lady Michelle Obama sat by in stony silence while these easy exchanges are going on.
Considering her own egotistical outlook on life, I’m going to say she wasn’t disapproving of her husband’s lack of respect per se. At least not towards Mandela and his family.