During Tuesday's Nelson Mandela memorial, President Barack Obama, United Kingdom Prime Minister David Cameron and Danish Prime Minister Helle Thorning-Schmidt took a three-person selfie:
— Huffington Post (@HuffingtonPost) December 10, 2013
There was plenty of glee on Twitter over the prospect of the leader of the free world acting no different than a bored teen at a funeral, but there was also an uglier undercurrent of racism and sexism in the way Twitter responded to Michelle Obama's reaction to the affair. Because the first lady was not involved in the photo — and because she likely did not know her photo was being taken by others — her lack of a big, camera-friendly smile was interpreted by many as disapproval. And since Obama was jovially interacting with a blond white woman (and because Obama and Michelle eventually switched seats) Twitter rather quickly surmised that President Obama was "in the doghouse" when it came to his relationship with his wife.
— Joe Taw (@kanyemeep) December 10, 2013
— JCWPolitics (@JCWPolitics) December 10, 2013
— Zaheerah Bham-Ismail (@ZeeKNTL) December 10, 2013
— deedee (@deannemacintosh) December 10, 2013
— Olivia Jones (@OliviaJonesFM) December 10, 2013
Some higher-profile conservative tweeters, meanwhile, took the whole manufactured crisis as proof that their stereotype of Michelle Obama as an angry black woman was justified:
Michelle is DEFINITELY not pleased. pic.twitter.com/S0nBM2BAj1
— RB (@RBPundit) December 10, 2013
But do you all see why I made Michelle Obama the lead character in #animatedMerica? She's hysterical without meaning to be.
— Brandon Morse (@TheBrandonMorse) December 10, 2013
All in all, the whole incident reminded of nothing so much as when Obama was "caught" checking out a woman in Brazil. The right and Twitter went crazy over that image, too, until video surfaced showing the president doing nothing of the sort.