Photographer Who Captured Obama Selfie Moment Now ‘Ashamed of Mankind’


Last week’s memorial for Nelson Mandela had more than its share of media moments, from the fake sign language interpreter to the handshake heard ’round the world. But nothing caught on quite as tenaciously or curiously as what we’ll dub “The Great Obama Selfie Beatdown.”

It started when Helle Thorning-Schmidt, prime minister of Denmark, pulled out her phone to grab a selfie of her sitting with President Obama and British PM David Cameron. Roberto Schmidt, a photographer for Agence France Press, captured the curiously contemporary moment. And before you could say “meme,” the entire narrative of the event shifted.

Forget about the legacy of one of the most inspiring and influential figures of the past century. Was the selfie a colossal break of etiquette? Did it reveal shocking new levels of self-involvement? Was Michelle Obama as torqued by the whole thing as she looked?

Selfiesatfunerals, a tumblr blog that mainly chronicles teens exercising bad judgement, shut down. “Obama has taken a funeral selfie, so our work here is done,” explained the blog’s final post. “Thank you, world, and good night.”

Photographer Schmidt was appalled at what he hath wrought. “Why do people care about a selfie?” he asked the New Republic. “This is a sad reflection of our society.”

“The AFP team worked hard to display the reaction that South African people had for the passing of someone they consider as a father,” Schmidt continued on an AFP blog. “We moved about 500 pictures, trying to portray their true feelings, and this seemingly trivial image seems to have eclipsed much of this collective work.”

Then it was time to take apart the reaction to the reaction, with Ed Driscoll of PJ Media casting Schmidt’s remarks as part of a lamentable trend of media kowtowing to official power and labeling the photographer “a wannabe court eunuch ashamed that he made the most powerful man in the world look silly.”

And now, of course, it’s your turn to offer the reaction to the reaction to the reaction to the reaction. Feel free to have at it in the comments down below.

(via NewsBusters)

Image credit: Photograph by Roberto Schmidt/AFP-Getty Images/NBC

  • S

    Your not hunter s thompson.
    I am young, very young 21 and no prude/corporate or teen magazine reader but this seems inappropriate? Aren’t these people supposed to be leading countries????


    If a
    picture says a thousand words…then 999 of them are being said for Michelle Obama in this pic. First she is isolated camera right which drives us into the picture of the baffoons. Second her attention is totally deflected in disgust. Moment of thought huh?…..its a moment alright. The president was going home with the newspaper this night…all night long.

  • ElijahRock

    people were dancing at the time. It was not a somber mood by any means

  • superduckz

    It stopped being about reason decades ago but when the world lost it’s mind over a supposedly “fake” turkey being presented while GWB visited the troops over seas I realized that character assassination trumps all. I have no surprise over this, or pity for the parties involved in this meme. Comes with the job.

  • Jim Johnson

    If your problem is with the “selfie” aspect, I get that. It does seem like a very teenager thing to do. I guess that is a societal shift that may seem a little immature (or self involved), and not everyone will find that appealing.

    However, I think the pearl clutching shock and horror most people have expressed is not at all representative of what actually happened at the memorial.

  • Fullstop

    People are going to pick up on this if they didn’t like him before which is fine by me.

  • Tomek

    is your common sense the same as South African common sense?
    are you common in the same way? really?

    would you dance semi-naked and laugh and make jokes at an important figure’s memorial? what’s the common sense telling you now?

  • ZeleniLav

    Would it be better if someone else had taken a photo of three countries’ leaders sitting together? And why is this any different?

  • Dr Betty Schueler

    I am disgusted with media and the public. We have serious life-and-death issues that need to be presented to the public and discussed. This is nonsense that detracts from the serious issues such as the number of soldiers killing themselves because they fought in a fraudulent war that involved the deaths of many innocent people. We also have thousands of people losing their homes every month due to a bunch of criminal bankers who have gotten off Scott free so far. I could go on and on. Get real people.

  • Jim Johnson

    Read up on the presidential election between Adams and Jefferson. This is actually more of a return to an older way.