UBIQUITOUS [yoo-BIK-wi-tuhs] : to appear seemingly everywhere at the same time

michelle obama

There wasn’t much about the Academy Awards presentation show that I would say I was excited about.  I liked most of the selections, but the show itself was below expectations.

But one moment in the show which was a surprise and a creative insert was the appearance of First Lady Michelle Obama to announce the Best Picture of the Year award.  It was fun.

Of course, the conservative Republicans jumped on it and made it into a negative right away.  It seems that nothing coming from the White House meets the standards imposed by them lately.   In commentary yesterday they indicated that “What we don’t need is an ubiquitous First Lady.”   Really?

What they were criticizing is the fact that this particular First Lady seems to be everywhere these days.   Late night television.  Charity functions.  Children’s hospitals.  Military bases.  Funerals of significant people.  And, of course, announcing one of the awards at the Oscar event (despite the fact that she was in the White House attending a formal event.)  Shame on her for being “out there” seems to be what they were saying.  How misogynous of them.   Maybe the First Lady should stay in the Presidential Suite and knit or do cross-word puzzles.

There have been gazillion  comments over the past months about how the conservative Republicans are out of touch with American society.  Maybe this is one of the more dramatic moments which demonstrates that.  The people love the fact that this attractive, intelligent woman with a social conscience is not afraid to put herself out there in front of the public…and that when she does she seems to have something important to say.  Shades of Eleanor Roosevelt, one might say.  In a television production which seemed to focus (over-focus?) on beauty and fashion is it hard to understand why Michelle Obama might be asked to play a role?  She is a fashion-setter, usually promoting fashion designers from the United States.    Monday night was no exception.

I wonder what the problem is with ubiquitous?  It is from Latin, ubique, meaning “everywhere.“  In modern usage, the term ubiquitous has taken on a meaning of surprise at seeing someone or something wherever you look.  Like cell phones.  And tattoos.  And the Toyota Prius.  And Ryan Seacrest.  And Michelle Obama.  We happen to live in an age where media and social media make it possible for us to see something happening spontaneously anywhere in the world.   That is different from 1955, I suppose.  But most of us have gotten used to it and even embraced it as a factor of life in the 21st century.

I, for one, found Michelle Obama’s presence to be refreshing and welcome in an otherwise stiff, boring, and crude presentation.  This was a year when the content of the big films lent itself to commentary and creative exposure.  Instead, most of the production was either silly, crude, or irrelevant.  Her arrival on the scene added class and creativity.   It would have been inappropriate for her to comment on the content of Argo.   But it was an interesting coincidence that the film chosen by voters was about a highly-sensitive political moment in the recent past.   She was not endorsing its content by her presence, but, what an honor for Ben Affleck and his team to receive the announcement from the First Lady of the United States.


Photo Credit:  Pete Souza, White House photographer

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