President Obama created quite a stir at Nelson Mandela’s memorial service Tuesday when he joined with British Prime Minister David Cameron and Danish Prime Minister Helle Thorning-Schmidt to snap a selfie.
And the reaction to that brief moment of frivolity proves the cult of personality dominates politics still, decorum notwithstanding. But was it appropriate?
“No Selfie Respect,” is the commanding headline on the Drudge Report, which made the story its lead report Tuesday night.
“What do President Obama and a bunch of teenagers have in common?” ABC News asked in the opening line of its report on the Obama selfie.
“It turns out they like to appear in selfies at memorial services.” Ouch.
Meanwhile, first lady Michelle Obama was less than amused at her husbands sophomoric behavior.
ABC News pointed out that selfies at funerals was popularized by a Tumblr site that had since shut down, but the owner couldn’t resist resurrecting it today to add the Obama selfie.
“There is simply nobody bigger in the world that could have taken a selfie at a funeral,” Tumblr’s Jason Feifer said.
The Washington Post begins a report by referencing the controversial story of a woman taking a selfie in front of the Brooklyn Bridge while a man prepares to jump off that raised the question of when and where it’s appropriate to take a photo of yourself.
The Post even added the titillating news of a follow-up photo showing Obama “laughing with Thorning-Schmidt and touching her arm,” while “the first lady looks stern — dare we say disapproving? — throughout.”
For the record, Thorning-Schmidt and Obama have met officially at least twice before, once in Stockholm in September, and Thorning-Schmidt also visited the White House in February.
Across the pond, the Daily Mail’s report on the selfie jeered that “while some reflected on the remarkable life of Nelson Mandela, some world leaders saw it as the perfect opportunity to grab a quick ‘selfie’ with their peers.”
The Independent began it’s report: “They’ll look back on this selfie, years from now, and think ‘what on earth were we doing? We’re world leaders, not a bunch of giggling teenagers. We’re attending the memorial service of Nelson Mandela. Couldn’t we have waited a bit before goofing around?’”
Across the board, the response was not favorable, with the possible exception of Politico’s media columnist Dylan Byers, who tried to shame the media for the mass coverage in a tweet:
You guys know this makes the media look bad, right? http://t.co/Frd7P5K3gT
— Dylan Byers (@DylanByers) December 10, 2013
To be fair, the Christian Science Monitor reported that it was a memorial, not a funeral. An event “meant to celebrate the great life of Mr. Mandela. There was singing, dancing, jumping throughout the crowd.”
But the Monitor may have gone too far when it tried to spin the selfie as “a bit of genuine ad hoc get-togetherness among world leaders,” saying it is “interesting to see that such powerful people can act like three friends at a sporting event.”
Except it wasn’t a sporting event. What are your thoughts, was it appropriate?