Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Yes We Can

When you’re wrong, you’re wrong.

Yesterday, we called Madame Tussauds the most over priced tourist attraction in London.

Today, we spent an amazing hour at Madame Tussauds kicking off the inauguration of Barack Obama.

It began as a publicity stunt. Madame Tussauds, to promote its new wax representation of Barack Obama in the Oval Office announces that on inauguration day, all Americans get in free. We decide to go, despite our cynicism about the place. We’ve always thought of Madame Tussauds as scraping the bottom of the tourist barrel. Too cheesy, too dumb, too celebrity-driven but hey, free entry (day tickets cost £25/$34.75) is always a temptation.

When we arrive at 9:15 in the morning, the line stretches down the street. We meet lots of excited Americans clutching their passports. At 9:30, we’re in and begin the long march past Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie, past Madonna and Elvis, past Camilla and Diana until we finally arrive at the Oval Office. The press is there eager to ask Americans what this day means to them. We talk to a security guard who wishes some American optimism would infect the UK. We talk to a man with a son in Iraq who has a very personal interest in change. An American Dad has brought his children in their school uniforms. A group of young people with balloons arrive. They cheer and pose. We all cheer. We’re a long way from Washington but it’s really exciting. Its fun. Its inspiring. Pinch me. This is Madame Tussauds!

On the way out, we watched tons of people having a great time: kissing Spider Man, playing rugby with Jonny Wilkinson, dancing with High School Musical, having their picture taken with the Queen.

And then we get a Facebook message from Eloise:

“Anyway, I heard that Obama is now in the wax museum. Dad told me. How was it? Can I go there one day?”

We thought about the high prices, the stupidity of worshipping celebrities, the derision we have always felt for the place. And then we thought of all the people who were having tons of fun at Madame Tussauds and the energy, excitement and optimism we saw in the faux Oval Office today so we fired back

Yes we can. Eloise. Yes we can.

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