7 Times Obama Understood Pop Culture For Its Importance & Influence, From 'Between Two Ferns' To 'Late Night'
There are some people who have a great need to know what is going on in the world, and there are some people who fall asleep if forced to watch the news for longer than five minutes tops. Growing up, I was always in the latter category. Our 44th President is the kind of president who was made for youths like me, because Barack Obama understands pop culture, understands its importance, understands its influence. Both he and his wife, Michelle Obama, have not only been prone to slinging pop culture references left and right, but have also appeared on talk shows, in films, and even on TV shows — you know, in all the things that teenagers are usually watching instead of the news. Obama's interview with Marc Manon is just the latest way he has used pop culture to his advantage.
Whether he's giving a serious interview about the benefits of Obamacare or joining in a sketch on a talk show following a serious interview, Obama has proven that he is a president that not only enjoys laughing at himself but enjoys being there to laugh at himself. Far from simply being parodied, or giving stock footage, the Obamas love to make room in their schedule to actually be there on the programming that their young voters — and even their older ones — love to watch.
So here are seven other times that Obama crushed the pop culture game, because he gets teenagers better than teenagers get themselves.
1. The Daily Show With Jon Stewart
In this 2012 appearance on The Daily Show, Obama utilized this opportunity to discuss his recent presidential debate against Mitt Romney. "Obviously, I had an off night. The presentation wasn't the way it needed to be, but the issues haven't changed," he said. "They didn't change after the first debate and they didn't change in the second debate. The stakes in this election are really big." Thus, people who tuned into the debate — or people who didn't — got to see Obama use this as a second chance to express himself and his ideas more clearly.
2. Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen
Not every appearance Obama made was all about the issues. After a chance encounter between Obama and Michael Bay at an airport, Bay decided to add the President's name and likeness into a minor scene in Transformers. The director later spoke of the decision, stating, "The Obama thing? I met him in an airport where he was carrying his bag by himself and we talked about movies and apparently he likes my movies. So I figured we'll just put him in." Landing yourself a minor role in one of the biggest blockbusters of the year? Not bad, Mr. President.
3. Jimmy Kimmel Live!
In this 2015 interview with Jimmy Kimmel, Obama takes the time to dispel (or confirm) some of the notions about the daily life of the President of the United States. Apparently, while he can get up in the middle of the night and make his own sandwich, he's not allowed to drive. (Which is not to say that he doesn't know how, but he literally can't for security reasons. You know how it goes.) These kinds of interviews take the president from being a larger-than-life figure to being human, which is something a lot of people tend to forget that he is.
4. Pitch Perfect 2
In a blink-and-you-miss-it moment that nonetheless has huge repercussions for the rest of the film, Barack and Michelle Obama appear in stock footage watching the Barden Bellas perform at the Kennedy Center. Because, again, landing yourself a minor role in one of the biggest blockbusters of the year is just another day in the life of an Obama.
5. Late Night With Jimmy Fallon
In this 2012 appearance on Late Night, back when Fallon was hosting, Obama not only had this interview but followed it up with the greatest sketch known to man: Slow Jam the News. So, you know, just in case you couldn't sit through listening to him talk about going to the mancave with his dog, you can hear the President of the United States slow jam the news like he's about to put out an album any second. An excellent night for all involved.
6. Between Two Ferns
Obama used his Between Two Ferns appearance to properly explain the virtues, and curtail some of the criticism, of Obamacare, which was done with such great hilarity that half the people watching didn't even realize they were learning at the same time. Combining a controversial policy with Zach Galifianakis? I'm here for it.
7. The Ellen DeGeneres Show
There is absolutely no combination of Ellen DeGeneres and anything that isn't a good idea, so I won't even ruin this interview for you by spoiling it. The fact of the matter is that Obama has always understood the power and influence of pop culture, and his natural charm as a person and as a president shines through just as well on a talk show as it does in a press event. By making himself more relatable through this personal appearances, Obama becomes as much of a celebrity as he is a president. And, for people like me who never grew out of being an apathetic 16-year-old, that's a great thing.