Friday, December 19, 2008

Meet the Obamas!

Thanks to Laura Burke for turning us on to this article in Time.

One of the many keen observations James Poniewozik makes has to do with how popular culture deals with the semiotics of a popular black family and a popular black president--topics that have interested SemiObama from the start:

After Obama won, there was talk of a "Huxtable effect"--the idea that pop-cultural portrayals of African Americans from The Cosby Show to 24's David Palmer readied white America for a black President. But maybe there's an opposite factor at work here too--the 50 Cent effect. The impact of the Obamas comes partly from the unspoken contrast to a decades-old media archive of images of black people as problems or threats, from news to cop shows to hip-hop. Broken families, perp walks, AKs and Cristal.

Suddenly the most photographed black man in America was giving speeches and calling world leaders. Suddenly the most discussed black women in America were two adorable kids and their lawyer mom. Suddenly you had a news story involving a black man and dogs, and it wasn't Michael Vick.

As Obama's profile and presidency matures, it will be fascinating to see how popular culture coverage of him (and his family) also evolves.


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