Don’t Waste Your Time with Faux Outrage Over Malia Obama Dancing at Lollapalooza


I will say this now: Malia Obama dancing at Lollapalooza is an absolute non-story. Before you hit me with some form of, “Okay, then, why are you covering it?” do yourself a big favor and remember you’re reading a website that specializes in media critique. I don’t get to decide what other sites and programs cover; I cover their coverage. To my total annoyance, some outlets have chosen to run stories about one of President Barack Obama‘s children having the audacity to dance at a music festival.

See, we talked about this in the office before I sat down to bang this one out. Dana Eisenberg suggested the pieces should be titled something like, “18-Year-Old Girl Attends Party, Dances.” I said “Young Woman Goes to Outdoor Festival in July, Wears Shorts” might be appropriate. Here is a sampling of what other editors and reports thought their headlines should look like:

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“Twerking” is a word that has been overused for years now. When Miley Cyrus gyrated a little bit at the Video Music Awards in 2013, we were subjected to weeks and weeks of thinkpieces written by people who had undoubtedly Googled, “What is twerking?” and then glossed over the dance’s rich, decades-long history in communities of color to focus on the — teehee — butts. What Cyrus did was hardly twerking. What you’ve probably seen on Vine and Facebook is hardly twerking. What Obama did, too, was hardly twerking compared to the dance’s origins. Oh, and PJ Media, is “flashing the crowd” a hill you want to die on? Anyone who watches the video will immediately see that no “flashing” took place. Obama moved a sweatshirt to the side and was wearing shorts underneath. In fact, here’s that video:

After all the hype, you expected it to be at least a little scandalous, right? You might have hoped it would be on par with Jenna Bush and Barbara Bush getting cited for underage drinking one year into their father’s presidency or trying to throw off their security detail all the time. Alice Roosevelt used to drag her pet snake to White House parties; the Obama video could have at least been as interesting as that.

But no. The video of Malia Obama dressed appropriately for an outdoor festival in the middle of July and shaking her hips for a few seconds is so basic that it borders on boring.

Take my advice. Don’t be…whatever this is:

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That is a miserable way to live. Searching for something to get worked up over is such a sad, sad hobby. There is more to life than shrieking into the Internet void about some perceived injustice or humiliation. A young woman attending a music festival and dancing should not upset you.

Whether you’re a reporter, editor, or scandalized consumer, listen up: If you get all worked up about a teenager dancing with her friends, the problem here is you. If you didn’t get equally disgusted at the Bush twins drinking underage in 2001, the problem here is you. If you didn’t dance and get invited to parties at 18, well, the problem was you.

Clicking on or creating articles with headlines about Obama “twerking” or “flashing” or “disrespecting” anything will contribute clicks and ad revenue to the Outrage Machine. There are so many better uses of time and clicks. Buy a ticket to next year’s Lollapalooza and live a little.

[image via screengrab]

Lindsey: Twitter. Facebook.

This is an opinion piece. The views expressed in this article are those of just the author.

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