March 4, 2013

B-Leaguered Kim Jong Un-Rodman Match Up: Where are the Out-of-Bounds Lines of Political Celebrity?

Though the trend is nothing new, I think it might be time to take pause and consider the pitfalls of politicians continuing to ingratiate, humanize or just de-stigmatize themselves with the public by associating with pop culture icons. Of course, the media is the eager enabler.

Of course, nobody has been more artful at the practice than President Obama, the freshest examples being Michelle Obama presenting the best picture award at the Academy Awards by televideo and the inauguration featuring Beyonce (and Kelly Clarkson).

Beyonce Paul Ryan inauguration

…Besides the pics of politicians snapping Beyonce and JayZ at the lectern, this is my favorite pic from the inauguration. It’s not just “VP candidate who??” but the fact that you don’t even need Obama in the picture, so pervasively do the E-world and certain celebrities (in the right settings) throw off glow as proxies.

It’s not a matter of shoulder rubbing, however, but the media allusion (illusion?) that celebrities and politicians (if they’ve got the right stuff) are one in the same. If Obama successfully dispelled the fallacious attack in ’08 that he was little more than a celebrity, you can’t say (with his active encouragement) he hasn’t been just as much of one.

Thus, to the extent that the third Kim thinks he’s more in Disneyland (or the heart of the Onion), there is plenty to model after celebrity-wise.

Kim Jong Un horse

Putin horse

But then, where does it end? Or, where are the limits of indulging this morphing? (I should even ask, right?)

Maybe, even after folks like Schwarzenegger have crashed and burned, there is no end. I’d just hate to look back after barely surviving a nuke attack to recall how the dominant musings about a particular photo op was that it was just as smart for KJU as it was for Rodman. Like we’re not political and media consumers there to call bullshit but enlisted soldiers in the PR narrative.

(photo 1: photo 2: Rob Carr/Getty Images. caption: Jay-Z and Beyonce exit the public ceremonial inauguration for U.S. President Barack Obama on the West Front of the U.S. Capitol January 21, 2013 in Washington, DC. Barack Obama was re-elected for a second term as President of the United States. photo 3: Ralph Barrera/Austin American-Statesman. caption: Hundreds were able to get an upclose glimpse of Obama using their small cameras and phones to make a historical snapshot of the President. UT Austin visitphoto 4 & 5: Reuters. photo-illustration: ROB VERHORST / REDFERNS / GETTY IMAGES)

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Michael Shaw
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