Culture Monster’s Christopher Knight thinks Michelle Obama’s attendance at the Met’s ribbon-cutting ceremony for the newly refurbished galleries of American art doesn’t actually demonstrate her “interest in and support for the arts.” Going on to list a variety of missed arts ceremonies across the country as evidence to the contrary, Knight sees her trip as an empty gesture and a photo op.
Not to state the obvious, but so what? Photo ops occur all the time– I don’t see why this one is such a big deal. The following gripe seems particularly problematic:
New York City is the nation’s No. 1 tourist destination. After Times Square, the Metropolitan Museum is the city’s No. 1 tourist attraction. The first lady will be doing what 4.5 million people, mostly out-of-town visitors, did last year. The city’s tourism industry will surely be thrilled at the demonstration of support.
The first lady represents the average person– not an avid museum visitor. Since it’s clear people most frequently travel to experience art at New York’s Metropolitian Museum of Art, Mrs. Obama decides to share in that experience by attending the re-opening of a wing housing the production of American artists. The trip is completely specific to her position and I see absolutely nothing wrong with it. Why not discuss the policy decisions and appointments of the Obama administration — the stuff that actually makes a difference?
The same blog ran three related stories about Rocco Landsman, a theatrical producer and race-track aficionado, recently appointed as head of the National Endowment of the Arts. As a man known for his intellect and sharp witted candor, he will no doubt provide a lot more substantive material for discussion.