First Lady Says She's Not Surprised by Oscar Appearance Backlash

By DARLENE SUPERVILLE
Associated Press
CHICAGO
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.

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. She recently invited the director and cast members from the Oscar-nominated film “Beasts of the Southern Wild” to the White House to participate in a question-and-answer session with students from Washington and New Orleans who had seen the film at the executive mansion.

She said she was astounded by the buzz about cutting her hair to add bangs, which she unveiled on her birthday, just before inauguration weekend.

Asked if she was surprised that the bangs made the news, Mrs. Obama said: “I was, I have to say. I’m like, `it’s a haircut.'”

In the interview, Mrs. Obama also revealed that she used a lot of salty language as a 10-year-old, which she said she didn’t realize until the year it cost her the title of “best camper” at the day camp she and her brother, Craig, attended every summer. The experience taught her a lesson, she said.

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Follow Darlene Superville on Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/dsupervilleap

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