Emmanuelle Alt, Michelle Obama, Lang Lang | Cultural Diplomacy In Action

HopeTracker| Presumably Oscar de la Renta will skewer Vogue Paris new editor-in-chief-Emmanuelle Alt for wearing Top Shop jeans in her first public interview with Hilary Alexander of Telegraph UK.

Will French manufacturers publicly condemn Emmanuelle Alt for not promoting French denim in a tough global economy as Oscar condemned First Lady Michelle Obama for wearing Alexander McQueen?

President Obama told Americans last night, that we must compete in the tough global marketplace for jobs, based on talent, creativity, and skills, as well as labor cost.

Sorry, Oscar. The world has gone global.

I’m certain that if Mrs. Obama had seen any American designs approaching the perfectly soft and elegant grandeur of the McQueen dress, and especially the print, she would have worked with the designer to adapt it for the State Dinner.

Having visited China many times, Michelle’s dress is a perfect cultural tribute to the People’s Republic of China at the White House.

Few American designers would even produce such a dress, except perhaps Donna Karan at various moments in her career.

State Dinner Musical Brouhaha

The Christian Science Monitor reports that there is also a Conservative movement mounting over pianist Lang Lang’s playing ‘My Motherland’, a song that Conservatives like Glenn Beck say dishonors America.

It is not clear why Lang Lang, who was educated in the United States, lives there half the time, and enjoys star status among his American fans, would spit in the face of his White House hosts. James Fallows, a writer for The Atlantic who sat next to and talked with Lang Lang during the dinner, says he finds it “really hard to believe there was any hidden-dart message in this music.”

The pianist himself has insisted that he chose the piece because he loves the tune. “I only know this piece because it is a beautiful melody,” he told NPR this week. “Once … people use it as a political issue, that makes me really sad.”

On his Chinese blog he said the song shows “China’s strength and Chinese peoples’ unity,” which he was proud to display to the White House guests.

The most recent comment on YouTube sums up the controversy:

I disagree that national pride is scourge to humanity when mass-media propaganda, even in our democracy, aims to demonize a certain culture and socio-politics, the indignation that results should be considered patriotic expression.

BTW… we all know that AMERICAN NATIONALISM is called “patriotism”, while CHINESE PATRIOTISM is called “nationalism. Don’t be mindless hypocrites.

The above comment follows this one:

In reality, western artists who were invited to perform in China had indeed “pulled this kid of shit” in front of audience in China. For example, Bjork who mindlessly screamed for “free Tibet” at the end of her Shanghai concert before the 2008 Olympics, was not arrested as you want people to think; but invited BACK to play at Olympics. Steven Spielberg who declined opening ceremony participation, lashed out at China for Darfur issue, but he STFU about his Israeli crimes in Gaza.

Visiting Lang Lang’s blog, the White House weighs in via ABC News:

White House spokesman Tommy Vietor told ABC News that “any suggestion that this was an insult to the United States is just flat wrong.  As Lang Lang has stated before, he plays this song regularly because it is one of his favorite Chinese melodies, which is very widely known and popular in China for its melody.  Lang Lang played the song without lyrics or reference to any political themes during the entertainment portion of the State Dinner. He simply stated the song’s title and noted it was well known in China.”

ABC News also features the offending song, written for the 1956 Chinese war film “Battle on Shangganling Mountain,” about the Korean War, in which the People’s Republic of China soldiers are the heroes and the bad guys are Americans. You can watch it there.

Lang Lang plays the ‘offending’ piano solo after his Ravel duet with Herbie Hancock:

Lang Lang & Herbie Hancock at White House State Dinner Jan. 19, 2011

On reflection, we believe Mrs. Obama did better with her dress in honoring Chinese culture, than Lang Lang did with his choice of music to play, even if ‘My Motherland’ is a childhood favorite. But for heaven’s sake, let’s stay focused on important matters in our global economic crisis and determination to jumpstart America.

Michelle Obama in Rachel Roy at State of the Union Speech

As for our first class First Lady, Mrs. Obama wore American designer Rachel Roy for President Obama’s State of the Union speech last evening. She looked perfectly elegant and understated, totally appropriate for the occasion. We assume that Oscar approves.

Calling Mrs. Obama a ‘handsome woman’ last week was inspired by Karl Lagerfeld calling Emmanuelle Alt a ‘handsome woman’ upon her Vogue Paris appointment. Take a listen to the opening video interview by Hilary Alexander, after the Chanel couture show in Paris.

Emmanuelle Alt informed Alexander that she is attending the London shows next month, and the Brit fashion writer kisses her on the spot. I don’t remember that she said “God bless you” but Alexander is thrilled that Alt will cover British designers for Vogue Paris. Now that is Détente in action.

Now if we can only get Oscar de la Renta off the First Lady’s back, we can progress forward in our new commitment to human civility and not criticizing everything but the toilet tissue.  Anne

Michelle Obama image via Mrs-O