I am lucky enough to live in Washington, DC when President Obama was inaugurated for his second term last weekend. While the hordes of people that swarmed into my favorite eateries was certainly an inconvenience (I never have any groceries), being able to stand on the National Mall amongst fellow Americans while the president took the (ceremonial) oath of office was nonetheless exciting.
Thousands of us were standing there huddled in the grass around large screens watching the important government people walk onto the “stage” area at the Capitol before the ceremony. Former President Jimmy Carter walked out. He got some cheers, but people in my age bracket (myself, admittedly included) had to ask the wiser among us who he even was. Sure the other recognizable faces of government got respectable cheers (or jeers); John McCain, John Boehner, Bill and Hilary Clinton, Jill Biden, Vice President Biden, Michelle Obama, and of course for President Obama himself.
Then, Beyoncé and Jay Z walked out and the whole crowd really went wild. Someone near me made the comment of the pop singer couple, “You’d think they were the first family.” And that comment was absolutely right. The feeling I got was the crowd recognized a handful of the politicians, and I would bet many people (again, myself included) wouldn’t even recognize the representatives from their own state. But everybody knew who Beyoncé was.
The experience was a powerful illustration of the wide reach of pop culture; those politicians are no match for Beyoncé (except maybe President Obama himself.)