In hindsight, it’s now abundantly clear that politics was but a means to end of the Obamas. What they truly wanted were wealth and fame. While occupying the White House for eight years, they hobnobbed with Hollywood elites in an effort to elevate themselves from the First Family to Tinsel Town celebrities.
In 2018, Netflix signed the Obamas’ Higher Ground Productions company to a mega-deal to take the wide-reaching narratives of the streaming giant and give them a hard, liberal slant. But the largest problem the politicians-turned-storytellers struggled with is they have little more to offer than tired old platitudes.
Michelle Obama took $65 million from Penguin Random House to publish her memoirs only to flip her autobiographical “Becoming” into a bland documentary by the same name. Now out on Netflix, Becoming is nothing more than a self-congratulatory portrait in hero worship. Even Obama cult followers appear to be unable to call the film “good,” as liberal media outlets praise the former First Lady while sidestepping criticism of a poorly conceived narrative.
“Even in her more unguarded moments — spending time with family, backstage at an arena full of people who’ve come to hear her speak — she’s still visibly aware that there’s a camera nearby, recording everything she says and does,” left-leaning Vox writes in a review. Naturally, the liberally biased media outlet quickly catches itself from going off-script into facts by recovering with, “But that doesn’t detract from her charisma or the authority she commands.”
Not every critic has the strength of will to subvert the truth about Becoming. In reality, it’s Michelle taking a page out of her husband’s playbook and reminding idolaters that she is rich, famous, and above the rest of you plebeians.
Despite two terms of defending Obama policy, even the New York Times couldn’t give the documentary a thumbs up or avoid noticing the self-aggrandizing nature of the fan film.
“It hits all the notes of a megastar choosing to share her life with the public,” critic Lovia Gyarkye wrote, adding that the movie “is not the candid Michelle Obama film that people might have been waiting for.”
Pop culture film reviews, such as Vulture’s, have been less delicate about choosing their words, calling Becoming a “self-celebratory affair.”
“Becoming is an act of legacy burnishing, no doubt, but it doesn’t feel like it’s laying the groundwork for a future campaign from its subject, no matter how adored it makes her look,” Vulture film critic Alison Willmore reportedly wrote.
Straight-up film review outlets such as Indie Wire handed Michelle a C+. Noting that the documentary following Michelle’s book tour is highly “sanitized.” Even when others in her orbit are brought into focus, they are there only to push the former First Lady’s greatness.
“And yet even those interviews remain firmly centered on their own (glowing, understandably) interpretations of their employer and friend,” Indie Wire notes. “The disjointed nature of the film does have one upside in that it hints at what might become of Obama’s life now.”
Unless you are a hard-charging liberal, does anyone really care about the future of the Obamas’ celebrity status? Hardly. But they are likely to remind Netflix viewers of their own wonder, again, and again. The only good news is that subscribers have hundreds of other options on any given night.