Sunday, November 16, 2008

Mocking Obama

I think I've made it fairly clear recently that I'm completely over Barack Obama. I'm not saying that I no longer support him. I'm thrilled that he won and think he will do a drastically better job than the previous administration, but the high has worn off, and being a member of Generation X (although inhabiting that vague space where it ends and another generation begins), I find it a little difficult to keep anything sacred for very long. My cynicism and sense of irony are too much a part of my basic character for me to have remained in hero worship mode very long (and even then I mocked myself to make it clear that I at least recognized the silliness of my fanaticism).

I also think my cynical attitude is healthy. I think it's dangerous to take any leader (political, religious or any other type) too seriously. I think it's all too easy to fall into the trap of thinking that person is infallible and letting them get away with too much. Camille Paglia writes a fairly interesting article from a similar point of view on this, although I don't subscribe entirely to some of her concerns. I do, however, agree entirely that a skeptical press corps is essential to the functioning of a democracy. As much criticism as the Bush administration has received, I also think they've gotten way too much leeway from the press. There's a lot of stuff that floated under the radar and instances where the presidential press release was taken as fact until it was too late to do anything about it. I may love Obama, but I also want him to be skewered by the media and I want him to let them skewer him.

I think the key to keeping us willing to criticize a president (especially when he's our guy and not the guy we're against) is getting us to laugh at him. A little satire keeps us level-headed and willing to stand up for ourselves against the charismatic few. So here are a few ideas for ways to make fun of a guy who is admittedly really hard to make fun of.

1. Obama seems a little too cool and unflappable. Perhaps he's a robot controlled by the sinister Senator Clinton. Seriously, this plays well into the essence of both Obama as being emotionless and Clinton as the megalomaniacal political being. Every skit with could feature Amy Poehler as Clinton hiding in some corner or item of furniture with a remote control and a fiendish grin and giggle.

2. For that same reason we could portray Obama as an alien imposter intent on using his position to take over the world by paying off the populace with government handouts and requiring everyone be both gay and have regular abortions. We could find some politician really known for his public hatred of immigrants and portray him as the Men in Black style alien hunter trying to stop Obama from achieving his master plan. Perhaps we could even have someone playing David Duke trying to be said Politician in Black's side kick, only to be rebuffed because the alien hunter doesn't want to be seen as racist. This skit could really satirize a whole slew of modern political trends. Politician in Black could have the catch phrase "But I'm not a racist!"

3. Again with the unflappable thing. The first two required Obama to be played as a buffoon. This idea has Obama played straight (much in the same way that Fred Armisen has been playing him) with various foreign leaders trying to get Obama to break his cool. Nicolas Sarkozy keeps farting in Obama's general direction during joint press conferences. Gordon Brown keeps implying that he'd like to have sex with Obama. Silvio Berlusconi keeps making racist comments, and Stephen Harper intentionally takes something Obama says the wrong way just so that he can threaten to invade the US, going so far as actually mobilizing the Canadian military to the US border (and all of them dressed in Dudley Do-Right Mountie gear). Kim Jong-Il tries to get in on the action and things just fall apart from there.

4. Maybe it turns out that Obama is secretly a big dork. It turns out that this cool and collected thing is just a great big put-on and all of Obama's decisions are all driven by his desire for people to love him. The Secret Service catches Obama playing Magic: The Gathering dressed as an elf with Kim Jong-Il. At one point Obama gets jealous of Bush's "guy I'd like to have a beer with" thing and ends up developing cirrhosis of the liver trying to actually have a beer with all of the white men who voted for McCain.

5. In another skit, we could have an older Obama, with oxygen tank in tow, coming back in time to stop the young Obama from running for president in the first place. It turns out that the stresses of the job intensified Obama's smoking habit and led to emphysema and lung cancer. Obama does a spectacular job to win re-election in 2012 only to ruin the country in forcing through extravagant funding for time travel research just so he could go back in time to stop his own meteoric rise to power. The contrast between the Terminator and old, hacking Obama would be funny by itself.

6. Obama seems to be really interested in sports. He was interviewed on ESPN's Mike and Mike in the Morning and on Monday night football. He even gave a special interview where he and the interviewer played basketball. After pushing through legislation requiring an eight-team playoff in college football, Obama resigns from the presidency to take over as GM for da Chicago Bulls. Queue a remake of the Chicago sports fans skits.

And did anyone thing that Berlusconi calling Obama "suntanned" was hardly the sort of comment to draw the criticism it did? I'm not sure I can see why it would have been offensive. Of course it could be a matter of the fact that Berlusconi has no idea where the line of propriety is and that comment was assumed to be horrible because everything else he says is misogynistic.


Sarah D said...

A related issue is Obama’s membership in Generation Jones (between the Boomers and Generation X). I’ve seen quite a few very credible experts emphatically insist that Obama is part of GenJones; if Obama’s generational identity is of interest to you, you should definitely click this link…it goes to a page filled with lots of articles and video of famous people arguing that Obama is a GenJoneser:

Courtney said...

I like the "Obama as dork" idea.

Don't worry; there are plenty of people who will give Obama plenty of criticism, in the press and out. It's a good thing -- keeps him honest.

My post-election high had worn off too, but I just saw the Obamas on 60 Minutes talking about how much they want to retain their normalcy for the sake of their kids, and my love for them was born again. I'm not ashamed of it. There's nothing wrong with hope, and I know better than to believe anyone is infallible.

Mickey said...

I'm with Courtney. #4 is where it's at. It's the most original of the lot and has "can't miss" comic potential.

Now deliver a script.

I'm serious. You're so good at pitching ideas, now follow through.

Mickey said...

Oh, yeah- I knew I'd first seen that "Banana Man" song on somebody's blog, but I couldn't remember where exactly. You're right, it was you.

Chris said...

I actually like #3 quite a bit. We love to laugh at badly done French and Italian accents. I could see some good joke potential in the leaders of our ally nations trying to sort initiate or haze Obama as a new president -- through the kind of pranks you suggested.

Julie said...

Or, we could not laugh at our president so much as we could feel free to challenge his decisions.

Jacob said...

Julie: I'm really not sure why you wouldn't want to make fun of your president at least a little bit.