If you have never been discriminated against, passed over through no fault of your own or felt the subtle sting of rejection, you have no way of understanding the pain that such behaviors inflict.
In watching the movie, “Becoming,” a Netflix documentary focused on Michelle Obama’s book tour, it is painful to feel some of the unfair criticism she received.
During the time before the election and her time as first lady, she was criticized for everything from her gestures to her hairstyle, her sleeve length to the words she used.
Both she and President Barack Obama were painted with the same brush as their former pastor, as being anti-American. Although they conducted themselves with grace and charm, their every move received the maximum scrutiny.
While rather slow moving and in need of some sharper editing, it nevertheless presents an accurate portrayal of an accomplished woman being judged unfairly at every turn.
The counselor at Michelle Obama’s high school told her she was not Yale material even though she was an outstanding student. That stung and it has stayed with her until now. Likely, it will continue to plague her.
Near the end of the movie, she reveals how much she was upset by the failure of the black community to turn out to vote in the mid-term elections. She said it felt like a slap in the face.
She takes these things very seriously.
According to a December 2019 Gallup poll, Michelle Obama is the most influential woman in the world for the second year in a row. She was also the most admired woman in a July 2019 YouGov survey.
This is outstanding when you consider her “competition.”
It is gratifying to see an audience composed of black and white people together standing and cheering a black woman.
Michelle Obama’s philosophy of hope and love shines through when she is on screen.
There are still the detractors. Those diehards who think that Barack Obama’s election was the result of some kind of plot to undermine American democracy or those who feel he is a Muslim plant. There are those who feel the couple still hates America.
The movie seems to be intended for supporters like me and likely will have no effect on the naysayers, except perhaps to inflame them.
Thankfully, the majority of Americans see the Obamas for what they are – decent hard-working American patriots.
The movie itself needs focus. I wanted more of the book tour and less of walking through hallways.
I wanted less chitchat and more emphasis on the advice she was giving young people, as well as additional focus on her interaction with the public on the tour. She is at her best when interacting with individuals.
Her advice to “look each person in the eye, don’t look over them or around them” is right on target. She has mastered those skills.
Her book, “Becoming,” is an excellent portrayal of an accomplished woman in her own right discovering her own voice and finding her place in the process.
Unfortunately, for me, the movie falls short of reaching that same high mark.
MPAA Rating: PG for some thematic elements and brief language.
Director: Nadia Hallgren.
Cast: Michelle Obama; Barack Obama; Phoebe Robinson.
The documentary’s website is here.
A member of First Baptist Church of Charleston, South Carolina, he is the author of “Our Father: Discovering Family.” His writings can also be found at MitchCarnell.com.