Tuesday, January 12, 2010

# 543. Portrayal of Black POTUS in Film

January 20, 2009, a date which will live with distinction and just pride in the hearts of Black people everywhere. On this momentous day, Mein Obama was sworn into office as the President of the United States, shattering the illusion of white privilege in this nation and showing that anyone can get elected to live in the White House.

HBO did a fantastic job of covering the epic marathon campaign that Zod-Obama started at the Democratic National Convention in 2004, culminating in his victory in November of 2008. This non-threatening half-Black dude with a Kenyon absentee-father represented the most viable option for white people to accept as the Jackie Robinson of the Presidency.

When one considers the historic importance of Barack Obama’s path to the White House, it becomes abundantly clear the important role that fictional Black presidents in popular culture had in “mainstreaming” positive images of a Black commander-in-chief for the general public to rationalize.

The “Mainstreaming” of positive images of Black people at the helm of the United States government has been an on-going phenomenon for the past 30 years. The concept of mainstreaming is important to SBPDL, for it means creating conditioned responses in a population for eventualities to unfold without opposition or resentment:

“A corollary of cultivation theory, the concept of “mainstreaming” implies that heavy television viewing contributes to an erosion of differences in people's perspectives that stem from other factors and influences. It is based on the argument that television serves as the primary common storyteller for an otherwise heterogeneous population.

As the source of the most broadly shared images and messages in history, television represents the mainstream of the common symbolic environment into which children are born and in which we all live out our lives.”

Nightly newscasts reinforce seemingly pre-conditioned response of resentment and prejudicial images of Black people in the majority population, thereby creating a false impression of wanton Black criminality and violence. Utilizing cultivation theory, the heroic images of Black people succeeding at sports leads to improving caustic thoughts of Black people and in turn, creates an environment where Black criminality is excused for the athletic contributions of this adroit people far out-weigh incarceration rates or rising opportunity costs of white flight from major cities.

When considering Mein Obama’s election, one must recall the giants whose shoulders he stood upon to be granted access into the White House: those portrayals by Black actors of Black presidents in popular culture, from television to movies. For, the “mainstreaming” of the notion of a fictional Black president had to be conditioned to the majority population before the reality could occur:

“As writers and directors cast blacks as president in several memorable portrayals, depictions of fictional black presidents may have accustomed Americans to accept a black man as president.[1][2][3] Actor Dennis Haysbert who played a black president on the hit show 24, said the portrayal “may have opened the eyes, the minds and the hearts of people because the character was so well liked."[4] The show also raised the issue of whether television series "like political trial ballons, can ready the populace for change." [5][6][7]

After Barack Obama's election, the television show the Cosby Show was cited for what has been termed the “Huxtable effect” for the influence of its "warmhearted" portrayal, "free of street conflicts and ghetto stereotypes - that broke ground for its depiction of an upwardly mobile black family." The show has even been cited by some observers as a factor in Obama's victory.”

Hollywood has cast some heavyweight Black actors in the role of the United States president, with oddly coincidental thematic undertones. We shall get to this in a moment, but a quick run-down of the fictional Black presidents in film should illustrate the point:

1. Deep Impact (1998)
Actor: Morgan Freeman
POTUS: Tom Beck

Not to be confused with the same year's Armageddon, about astronauts nuking an asteroid on a collision course with the Earth, Deep Impact is about nuking a comet on a collision course with the Earth. It's also about an MSNBC reporter so darling, as played by Téa Leoni, that the president gives her something of a scoop about the comet-nuking mission.

2. The Fifth Element (1997)
Actor: Tommy "Tiny" Lister
POTUS: President Lindberg

Luc Besson's wiggy fantasia tells the story of a planet representing pure evil on a collision course with the Earth in the 23rd century. Instead of nukes, our weapon against it is Milla Jovovich's bandage-attired supernatural sylph, and one President Lindberg oversees her deployment.

3. Idiocracy (2006)
Actor: Terry Crews
POTUS: Dwayne Camacho

Mike Judge's sci-fi satire unfolds in the 26th century in a United States whose degraded citizens habitually deaden themselves with video games and fast food. (The movie is a cult classic, rather than a popular favorite, because its absurdism hits too close to home.) Luke Wilson—playing the "most average" soldier in the Army of 2005—awakes from Rip Van Winkle hibernation to find that he's the smartest guy in the country and soon joins the Cabinet of President Camacho, who entered the political arena via the wrestling arena. While Camacho's skin color is much really less of an issue than, say, the fact that he commands respect at the State of the Union by firing an automatic rifle at the ceiling, his processed hair and street idiom do lend an extra outlandish to the apocalyptic portrait.

Not profiled in this article is a late arriver to the party of fictitious Black presidents is President Thomas Wilson of the recent film 2012, played by Danny Glover (sadly, his Vice President was not Martin Riggs).

In television, the “mainstreaming” of a Black president fell to the good-hands of Dennis Haysbert, as he was cast as the president in 24:

“It's not until the hit series "24" that things start looking up for the black president. Dennis Haysbert's character, David Palmer -- in the first season a senator running for the presidency -- is handsome, composed and ready to lead on Day One. His race is a non-issue as he grapples with modern-day threats such as terrorism, bomb scares and a social-climbing wife.”

The path to the White House for Mein Obama was lined with the horrific “mainstreaming” of end-of-the-world scenarios that Black presidents constantly presided over (Danny Glover was cast in 2012 before the election of Mein Obama for those wondering, meaning Hollywood was prepared to continue to the “mainstreaming” of end-of-the-world scenarios with Black people at the helm of the US Government).

A synthesis of disaster and Black presidents has occurred through the “mainstreaming” of Hollywood films and television shows that showcase Black POTUS being elected at the unlucky moment right before Armageddon strikes. Consider, Deep Impact, a film where most of the United States is destroyed by a rouge comet from Outer space. Morgan Freeman’s Godlike abilities fail to prevent widespread destruction.

2012 shows a world where nearly 99 percent of the population is wiped out thanks to solar flares from the sun melting the earth’s core. The Black POTUS is helpless in stopping the mass murder of the United States population by the remorseless power of nature.

In Idiocracy, a film that dares discusses the verboten topic of inherited intelligence in individuals; a Black person is once again president when the planet is on the verge of a dystopian nightmare reserved for the pages James Watson’s diary.

Thus, an observable pattern develops between Black people in film and television and the end-of-the-world that a few people have noticed, yet completely misdiagnose.

Mein Obama was elected at a time when the United States stands on the verge of collapse and the “mainstreaming” of disastrous scenarios through the medium of film and television conditioned all American’s for this event, and the Black person at the helm of the nation underscores this situation.

Black actors are on speed-dial by Hollywood executives for POTUS roles, as the blame for apocalyptic events in film must always rest on the shoulders of Black people in the role of POTUS. Stuff Black People Don’t Like includes the portrayal of Black presidents in film and television, for Black people as president denotes end-of-the-world scenarios coupled with doom and gloom.


Anonymous said...

I was just watching this humorous fake trailer of an apocalyptic live action movie based on a kids' cartoon, and guess what? Even in a two-minute spoof of armageddon movies, the president is black.

Anonymous said...

Hello. It's good news !