The most puzzling thing about the presidency of Barack Obama has been how unpopular most of his policies are and how popular he is. At end of the Academy Awards Jack Nicolson trotted out Michelle Obama to make a speech and announce the winner for best picture and then suddenly everything came into focus. The Obamas have become full fledged celebrities in the classic Hollywood tradition. Hollywood was simply having one of their own participate in the industries most important evening and they were rubbing our noses in it.
The Obamas have transcended the pedestrian world of politics and have become part of mythmaking dreamscape of Hollywood where image is everything and substance is irrelevant. Obama isn’t really President in the here and now that real people have to live in. Instead he plays being the President on TV in a reality show that frees him from any blame or responsibility for the crises he sets into motion and the harm they do in the world far away from the fantasy world in southern California.
When we ask ourselves the next time why he is once again manufacturing another crisis, the answer will be that crisis is good drama and drama is interesting and generates great ratings. In short we have entered a kind of Rod Serling like “Twilight Zone” where fiction has become fact and the fact is that Obama is always cast as the hero.
Obama’s main accomplishment is that he talks and then considers that as doing his job. Actors talk and do the same thing. Their purpose is to entertain and make us forget our woes. Obama creates our woes, convinces us otherwise while casting himself as a good and noble superhero who will fight the bad guys and protect and save us. Then he walks off stage after reading his script and goes golfing just like many a good Hollywood celebrity. The act of doing begins and ends with the act of talking and what he has to say is in and of itself …an act.Can you imagine Nancy Reagan being asked to announce the winner for best picture? Both she and Ronald Reagan were actually part of Hollywood. The future President of the United states was first the President of the Screen Actor’s Guild. You couldn’t get more “Hollywood” than that. But those were the days when the left, including the Hollywood left denigrated Reagan as a “B” movie actor with little talent who was unqualified to be president because he had grown to manhood pretending to be someone else for a living. They liked Bonzo better than they liked Ronald Reagan. I always thought they simply had more in common with Bonzo than with Reagan.
America loves her celebrities particularly in times of trouble and anxiety. During the depression Americans from all walks of life went to darkened movie theaters for a poor mans two hour vacation from the misery of the reality they had to live with. Or they sat by their radios and were entertained by the famous for reasons as much connected to their need to hear from a world free of fear as their need to laugh or sing and believe that the bad times would one day end.
The Obamas have become part of Hollywood by virtue of being adopted by the glitterati. Obama more than any other President since JFK, has conquered tinsel town in ways unimaginable for his predecessors. He is one of the Hollywood in crowd not only because he has become a consummate showman but because he has also made heretofore questionable and radical progressive policies and creeds both unquestionable and mainstream. Hollywood has always in the past reflected what was considered the mainstream values of America and now after 40 years of culture war the movies reflect the new values with the nodding approval of Barack Obama superstar! In essence, once Hollywood reflected the traditional values of America…now America is increasingly reflecting the radical values of Hollywood.
One wonders if “Lincoln” lost best picture because Lincoln was a Republican who saved the Constitution or Kathryn Bigelow and Jessica Chastain were punished by the because after having been given unprecedented access from the White House to make “Zero Dark Thirty”, Bigelow went ahead and made the movies she wanted to make and not the one Obama wanted made? Perhaps the great irony of the evening was the Best Picture going to Argo, a film about the government successfully rescuing American diplomats in danger in a hostile environment…something this administration could not accomplish.
As the country lurches toward another manufactured crisis by a man who doesn’t care what the consequences are to real people, we are forced to watch drama after drama unfold to the usual great reviews for Obama as hero and Republicans as villains. After all in the great and powerful Hollywood/ Washington/ New York/ Chicago axis …the play's the thing!