HE is called the pop culture king—and for good reason. He is the only president in the history of America who has ever done the fist bump (with the first lady during his first presidential campaign) and the mic drop during his last White House Correspondents’ Dinner.
“His two terms played out like a running chronicle of the trends of our times: slow-jamming the news with Jimmy Fallon, reading mean tweets with Jimmy Kimmel, filling out his NCAA (National Collegiate Athletics Association) bracket on ESPN, cruising with Jerry Seinfeld on Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee,” wrote the Associated Press about Barack Obama, now a former president.
Obama turned over the country to President Donald Trump yesterday and Americans turned to social media to thank the Obamas. #ThankYouObama trended in both Twitter and Instagram yesterday.
Celebrities, most of whom lean toward the democratic principles, shared their experiences of having a leader who understood pop culture better than any other politician.
And it’s not just Barack, former first lady Michelle Obama also had her own share of pop culture moments. She did James Corden’s “Carpool Karaoke” segment, making her the first non-singer to do the popular shtick; did “Evolution of Mom Dancing” with Jimmy Fallon twice; went to a grocery store with Billy Eichner for Billy on the Street; and danced off with Ellen DeGeneres.
Both Barack and Michelle have been on DeGeneres’ show multiple times so it’s understandable that the comedienne and talk show host would miss the first couple. She paid tribute to the Obamas in her show yesterday, showing video clips of the times Barack and Michelle had been on Ellen. Bo, the Obamas’ dog, also dropped by once.
“I wanna personally thank him for changing my life. I am a legally married woman because of him, and so is my wife,” DeGeneres, who is married to Portia De Rossi, said. “His courage and compassion created quality for everyone. He moved us forward and made more happen in the past eight years than I ever dreamed possible.”
The Associated Press also noted how Obama embraced hip-hop more than any of his predecessors: “He’s referenced Jay Z’s lyrics and Kanye West in speeches, released playlists on Spotify that included Nas, Chance the Rapper, Mos Def and Method Man, and was caught dancing to Drake’s Hotline Bling at a White House event.”
And in a recent televised concert celebrating the opening of the National Museum of African American History and Culture, Obama was shown rapping along when Public Enemy’s Chuck D performed Fight the Power.
“It will probably be a long time before we see another president do something like this. It was kind of a now-or-never thing,” rapper Ice Cube said.
“Whatever your political affiliation, it’s hard to deny that Americans have gotten to know (or at least feel like they’ve gotten to know) the first family in a way that was unimaginable before the current age of social and viral media,” the LA Times said in a report.
The New York Times wrote: “Pop culture and art aren’t aspects of American life that should dominate a two-term presidency. But Obama has always seemed to understand the importance of culture as mirror, window, escape hatch and haven.”
“The Obamas were open, their hearts were open, their arms were open—to the Willie Nelsons, the Beyonces, the Junot Diazes, to all kinds of excellence.”