Pop culture is a term first used somewhere in the 1960s; however, several movements and personalities greatly impacted how pop culture was adopted or understood. One of these personalities who impacted pop culture is Barack Obama.
It wouldn’t be a lie if we say that Obama is one of the most famous presidents in the history of the US, and the popularity is still quite high, regardless of the fact that Obama is not a president anymore. The reason behind his popularity may be because of him being the first-ever African-American president of the US. However, a major chunk of this popularity comes from his understanding of literally any generation – generation Z, millennials, etc.
In simple words, Barack Obama was a relatable president, and now he is a relatable celebrity (we can undoubtedly call him a celebrity).
Barack Obama and Pop Culture
Barack Obama’s understanding of different fields of governing made him a relatable president. This relatability then became the reason behind his impact on pop culture during the late 2000s.
In and outside America, Obama has had a very positive image, and pop culture references about him are mostly positive. But negativity comes along with positivity, and Obama has dealt with such references very well.
We have gathered some of the iconic pop culture moments that Barack Obama totally nailed. They are as follows:
That Iconic Mic Drop
Mic drop is a gesture that has always been popular among pop artists, rappers, and sometimes comedians. However, it didn’t get much popularity until Obama decided to perform a mic drop at the chat show called Late Night with Jimmy Fallon in 2012.
Soon after his mic drop at Fallon’s show, Obama once again showed off the mic drop attitude at the 2016 White House Correspondents’ Dinner by ending his speech by saying, “Obama out,” and dropped the mic. It was, however, a joke that Obama being an extreme basketball fan, made by copying one of his favorite NBA players Kobe Bryant.
The journey of this iconic mic drop didn’t end here. In 2017, Korean boy band “BTS” released their song “Mic Drop.” The band’s leader, RM (Kim Namjoon), revealed that the song “Mic Drop” that was a part of their extended play “Love Yourself: Her” was inspired by Obama’s historic speech and the mic drop at the correspondents’ dinner.
Another figurative use of this gesture was used in the promotional video of Invictus Games, which featured the British Royal Family and Barack Obama.
Obama Even Knows How to Slow-Jam the News
In the Late Night Show with Jimmy Fallon, Obama showed the world his love for pop culture. Slow-Jam the News is a segment in Jimmy Fallon’s show, in which the host Jimmy joins his house band called “The Roots” and tells a newsworthy topic to his audience in a slow jam style.
In 2012, during the reelection campaign, Obama took part in this segment of Fallon’s show and slow-jammed the news for the first time.
Later in 2016, Obama once again slow-jammed the news, and this time it was Obama recapping the successes he had achieved in the two terms he spent in the office. Yes! It was Obama who said, “In short, climate change is real, healthcare is affordable, and love is love,” to which Jimmy Fallon replied, “Commander-in-Preach!”
At the Zach Galifianakis’ Talk Show and Obama
Obamaism dives deep into pop culture, and it gets quite clear when one watches the episode of Between Two Ferns with then-president Barack Obama as a guest.
The episode was specially produced to enroll young US citizens in Obamacare, as HealthCare.gov was in a disaster and was inaccessible.
In the episode, Zach was quite blunt to shoot a joke saying, “What’s it like to be nation’s last black president?” which was a bummer to remind Obama that he cannot run for president for the third time. To this, Obama replied, “It’d be sort of like doing a third Hangover movie. Didn’t really work out very well, did it?”
It’s hard to forget the savage replies the impactful president gave and proved that he could impact anything, including the pop culture, and of course, savage jokes.
Running Wild with Bear Grylls and Obama
Can you imagine a US president going into the wild to raise awareness about climate change? Well, we can, as Obama really set an example for us to believe that it is possible.
It must be hard to survive, but we know you can come out alive if Bear Grylls is with you. Obama really did enjoy shooting the episode, as according to him, the shooting days with Bear Grylls were the best days of his presidency. He wasn’t wearing a suit and was out of office, as it was where he was almost all the time.
As Obama was the president, there were many restrictions, and for security reasons, he wasn’t allowed to do daring stunts or eat those exotic foods. Whatever the circumstances were, Bear Grylls had a very positive opinion about the then-president. According to Grylls, Obama is a straightforward and very humble guy.
Obama Sharing His Favorite Pop Cultures
Barack Obama, as we mentioned earlier, has always been a great impact on pop culture. Along with appearing in shows and doing all other pop culture stuff, Obama has a list of his favorite TV shows, books, movies, and songs.
In 2019, Obama gave a thumbs up to the TV show Fleabag in the list of his favorite TV shows, books, and movies list. To which, of course, Fleabag’s official Twitter account showed their happiness, saying, “We couldn’t ask for higher praise than this.”
Once again, in 2020, Obama shared his favorite pop culture from the year 2020. The favorite books list included Caste by Isabel Wilkerson, Luster by Raven Leilani, Homeland Elegies by Ayad Akhtar, and more. Along with his favorite movies and TV shows, the list also included the novels, Beanpole, The Queen’s Gambit, etc.
The Diehard Trekkie Obama
Obama has also proved to be a diehard Trekkie (Star Trek fan) after flashing that Vulcan salute with the Star Trek actress Nichelle Nichols in 2012.
Once again, he was sure to show his affection towards Trek films by honoring the death of Leonard Nimoy in 2015. Obama, on this occasion, said, “I loved Spock.” Later in 2016, he again honored the Trek films by listing the original series in his essential sci-fi picks.
There are not many politicians, especially presidents, who have an impact on pop culture; however, Barack Obama is one of those people who changed the image of the US presidents in the eyes of people. He represents who he really is by showing the humor and comfort that he finds in pop culture.
Besides being a former president, Obama’s actions and appraisal of pop culture have been an inspiration for several artists. He is someone who doesn’t mind being a meme template; instead, he would rather be the one who laughs along. We all still have that mic drop meme template hidden somewhere in our mobile galleries, and we can’t lie about it.