During Nelson Mandela’s funeral and memorial, world leaders gathered to pay homage to the iconic and inspiring figure. In the midst of the funeral, President Obama was caught taking a selfie with British Prime Minister David Cameron and Denmark’s Prime Minister Helle Thorning Schmidt. The photo sparked outrage because it just seemed uncouth that some of the most powerful people in the world were taking a selfie during the funeral of South Africa’s most notable liberator.
I talked about funeral selfies before, the trend in which obnoxious millennials took photos at funerals with captions like, “lol my grandma died.” The idea that world leaders take stupid selfies is strange enough but I do have to admit this rubbed me the wrong way when I first heard about it.It seemed as though after Obama’s succinct and heartfelt speech about Mandela he runs off to take selfies with the cool kids as the rest of the boring funeral processions continued.
However, the photographer who took the pictures described the funeral as more of a festival and celebration of Mandela’s life and legacy. People were happy, smiling, dancing, so maybe it’s forgivable that in a moment of happiness and gratitude toward a world leader he would want to capture the moment with his “friends.”
Photographer, Roberto Schmidt said, “Suddenly this woman pulled out her mobile phone and took a photo of herself smiling with Cameron and the US president. I captured the scene reflexively. All around me in the stadium, South Africans were dancing, singing and laughing to honour their departed leader. It was more like a carnival atmosphere, not at all morbid. The ceremony had already gone on for two hours and would last another two. The atmosphere was totally relaxed – I didn’t see anything shocking in my viewfinder, president of the US or not.”
So what do you think? Insensitive or not?