The media is gushing again over First Lady Michelle Obama's cool. This time it’s for an awkward Vine video where she channels rapper Lil Jon and his summer hit to promote eating veggies. Let’s face it: She is a mom trying to be cool. This often works out badly.
During a twitter conversation FLOTUS responded to a (planted) question from an impersonator of her husband, who asks how many calories she expends when dancing (or “turning up” in current vernacular). She replied “Turnip for what?” as she danced with a turnip -waving the vegetable in the air. Clever? Okay. Relevant? Appropriate?
Mrs. Obama was parodying a megahit song ‘Turn Down for What?’ which has become a pop culture term, launched a host of hashtags and derivative sayings. It even gave Rock the Vote an anthem being used in an attempt to get young people to turn out for the midterms. However, the video to the original song is aggressive, over-the-top raunchy, and promotes extreme sexualization of young people. When I hear that song, the images that come to my mind are far from kid-friendly.
Being kid-friendly is something that the First Lady’s being healthy campaign struggles to do. The Administration has been hit more often than not lately for introducing nutrition rules that leave students consuming fewer calories than they need, offering choices they don’t like, and forcing schools and school systems to spend money on meals that are going to waste.
A weird, but well-timed video clip, won’t cover up the unintended consequences of her efforts.
The Daily Mail reports:
Michelle Obama really is pulling out all the stops to hammer home her healthy eating message.
In a rather awkward attempt to connect with kids, the first lady has posted a bizarre rap video showing herself dancing with a turnip.
While bopping along to Lil Jon's 'Turn Down for What?' Michelle gives the rap lyrics a vegetable-inspired twist to fit her healthy eating message.
She holds a turnip up to the camera and says 'Turnip for what?' before the music from takes off and Michelle bops along to the urban beats.
The short video was posted to The White House's official Vine website and quickly went viral.
Eating healthy is an important lifestyle choice and admirable pet project for the First Lady. Her strategy and tactics are what’s questionable. As part of her Let's Move! initiative, we've seen her do the Dougie with school kids and harvest food from the White House vegetable garden in photo ops. (By the way, the garden is hardly big enough to grow more than one head of lettuce, one cabbage, one turnip and one onion, but the photo angles fool you into thinking it’s a legitimate garden that feeds the First Family daily.)
Latching on to the ‘Turn Down for What?’ or other supposedly cool manifestations of youth culture is a time-honored tactic parents and adults to try to connect their kids. It generally flops. If you ask them what the terms really mean, or if they’ve seen the videos that promote the messages, they often are clueless and probably would “turn down” the idea.
This tactic aside, there’s a greater issue about government control in our lives. The Let’s Move Campaign has been used as a doorway to allow bureaucrats in Washington to determine what and how much our children should eat while in schools. Yanking discretion from school administrators and concentrating that control in D.C., has put schools in the unenviable position of balancing federal requirements around school lunch and snacks with the needs and wants of the children they're feeding. Pushed out of the equation are parents, families and communities who should be playing an active role in what happens in schools.
Instead of "turning up" the regulations on what our kids eat in school, the White House should encourage parents to turn to the right food behaviors at home and model good habits for their kids. That would be really cool.