Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Dart Adams presents Journey Into Mystery: Investigating America's Fear Of A Black President

Here we are, America. Yet another presidential primary is being held in Philadelphia this week. After Barack Obama made yet another pretty straightforward statement his words got spun and twisted into offensive remarks directed towards the denizens of Western Pennsylvania by different media outlets (Fox News). Are some of those people “bitter”? Yes. Do they, in fact cleave unto guns and the Holy Bible in these trying times? Yes, they do (so do hella other people in other regions of the country).

Have we as a nation become so used to having George W. Bush address the people that when a man speaks to the people who live in this nation from the heart and treats us like grownups (remember his speech following his pastor’s “racist” remarks?) they can’t handle it or process it correctly? Hilary Clinton then immediately declared how much she loved Jesus and how her Grandpappy used to take her out to shoot guns back when she was knee high to a swamp possum (insert hambone solo and fiddlin’ here).

It’s pretty much a forgone conclusion that Barack Obama will end up getting the Democratic Party nomination but Hilary wants to fight it out. I’m not mad at that but her tactics are making her look bad and they might come back to haunt her after Obama’s first term as president ends and she wants to run for office again. I wonder exactly what is scaring some Americans about the concept of a Black president. Is it racism? Is it prejudice? Or is it just a subconscious, deep seeded fear implanted by media outlets and other external sources?

That drove me to do this blog that started out as a rant but soon turned into an investigative report after I uncovered some interesting facts. In the past 36 years there have been five films made that depicted the President as being a Black man and one popular television series. Let’s dissect those and get to the heart of the matter to determine why people would possibly be so apprehensive of having a Black man in office. Read below:

In 1972, Shirley Chisolm, a Black woman ran for president. That inspired the creation of an independent film called “The Man”. Rod Serling adapted a Irving Wallace novel and told the story of Douglas Dilman, the token Black in the President’s cabinet. In a freak accident both the President and the Speaker Of The House are killed. The Vice President is old and he suffered a recent stroke so the office of President Of The United States Of America falls to the Senate President pro tempore...Douglas Dilman (played by the incomparable James Earl Jones).

The country was not very happy about it but after some trying times things managed to pan out for the man who had serious reservations and anxieties about occupying the office. This film is not available on DVD but there are some spots you can acquire it from on VHS and transfer it to VCD. Just think that back in 1972, the only way a Black man could’ve been President is if damn near everyone else in the cabinet died. That’s a damn shame (then again, isn’t that how President Roslin got the job on Battlestar Galactica?). Moving on...

It would be 25 years (1997 for the mathematically impaired) before anyone would think to make a film where the President was a Black man. This film, “The Fifth Element”, was written and directed by progressive French director Luc Besson (Leon: The Professional) and it featured Tiny Lister ("Deebo" from "Friday") in the role of Galactic President Lindberg.

This was good and bad because while it was great that a Black man was depicted as not only the President Of The United States but the entire universe, his great obstacle is that a huge fireball 1200 miles in diameter is sucking up everything in space and headed directly for Earth. What does our huge, muscular president do? Call Bruce Willis to save the day (Korben Dallas), that’s what! In “Independence Day”, the President was an ace fighter pilot. Go figure. I remember saying to myself “It figures the one time a brother becomes President in a movie it’s the damn Apocalypse!”. Oh well.

The next year I remember seeing this (pictured above) promotional poster for a film called “Deep Impact” in the theater near my apartment and saying to my brother sarcastically “I bet you the President’s a Black dude”. Back then, E! Entertainment television had a show where they premiered new trailers and after I saw it my jaw dropped. Oh shit, a Black dude IS the President Of The United States. Not only that, but it was Morgan Freeman!

Morgan Freeman played President Tom Beck (directors, please refrain from naming any Black man in a position of power “Tom” in the future!) and he was asked to make some incredibly difficult decisions that affected all of humankind including instituting a lottery for 800,000 Americans to be saved after the comet hits Earth and causes an Extinction Level Event (no Busta Rhymes) in which the dust from the impact would block out the Sun for years, killing all plant and animal life on the planet (hence the 200,000 smarty art scientist motherfuckers that get to live automatically).

When you go to IMDb to look up “Deep Impact” the first and last plot keywords are “Black President” and “The End Of The World”. If that doesn’t subconsciously put doubt in some peoples mind on some black jellybeans and black licorice shit then you tell me what’s up. At least Morgan Freeman got to play God, too (but so did Alanis Morrisette). Let’s continue on, shall we?

Chris Rock wrote the 2003 film “Head Of State” in which a straight talking young Black politician named Mays Gilliam runs for President Of The United States. He starts gaining supporters slowly and steadily until he badgered the Republican candidate into a tide turning debate that gives him the edge he needs to ultimately become the Commander In Chief at the conclusion of the film.

The world wasn’t about to come to an end or anything but some of the scenes in this film made me beg for the Wolf-Beiderman a couple of times to prevent shit like this from ever being made again in the future. Yeah, I know it was a comedy and that’s my other issue with it. Sure a brother can be President...provided it’s an obvious fantasy. Next!

The long running, popular television series “24” is based on the events surrounding the life and exploits of counter terrorism agent Jack Bauer as played by Kiefer Sutherland. During the run of the show, Bauer ends up protecting Presidential candidate and Maryland senator David Palmer (played by Dennis Haysbert) and saves him from several assassination attempts during his candidacy. In the end, David Palmer wins the election and becomes the next President Of The United States.

After quite an eventful presidency in which he made some tough decisions and put his life on the line for the American people time and time again David Palmer loses his position and is later killed by a sniper’s bullet. It turns out that the sniper that killed him was ordered by the acting President Of The United States. The one person who was there when David Palmer was killed? His brother, former Marine and member of the Presidential cabinet Wayne Palmer (played by D.B. Woodside).

Wayne Palmer would go on to win the following presidential election after the arrest of the previous President who ordered hits on several others to protect his secrets and succeed his brother. There is a school of thought that argues that the show “24” has made it so that Americans are more accepting of the concept of a Black President Of The United States. I say thee nay...

I argue that the only reason that these same really people feel comfortable with the “concept” of a Black President (or multiple ones) is in a fantasy world where a sub superhuman protector like Jack Bauer (pictured below) exists to save everyone from boogeymen like the ones that permeate this program.

In the time line/alternate reality that the Wayne brothers come to power the United States is under constant attack by dissidents, moles, malcontents and terrorist cells. There seems to be a nonstop string of assassination attempts, bombs and international espionage. Remove Bauer from the equation and I wonder how viewers would feel then?

Finally, Mike Judge (Beavis & Butthead, Office Space) created a social commentary film where the continuing dumbing down of America results in a future where everyone is borderline retarded. In this alternate reality the President Of The United States is a Black man that’s an ex wrestler turned porn star named President Camacho (pictured below). Americans have gotten so stupid that they don’t know that water makes crops grow or even how to properly dispose of trash.

President Camacho (played by Terry Crews) places the new arrivals to the future in charge of fixing all the mounting problems because even though the members of the Presidential cabinet are the smartest people in the entire country, they’re still all complete dickheads. I know this film is satire but it still goes to show you that the only way for a brother to be President in the future is for the entire nation to have a damn lobotomy. *Rolls eyes*

It’s funny when you think about it, but there are several reasons that Americans would be wary of having a Black man be Commander In Chief. Think about all of the shit that happened to Hill Valley (Back To The Future) under Mayor Goldie Wilson, Libyans rode into town with AK47’s and rocket launchers! Look at Detroit under the leadership of Mayor Kuzak in “Robocop 2”, the entire city was in financial dire straits and the whole damn police force went on strike except for RoboCop! Imagine if these dudes were President...everything would’ve gone to shit!

To sum it all up, from films and television the American public has learned that if a Black man is to be the Leader Of The Free World it either has to happen only in the event that everyone else that is a viable option dies in a freak accident or if it’s the distant future or a fantasy/comedy. A Black man can also be President Of The United States but that means that we’ll be under threat of constant terrorist attacks. Either that or a huge comet/evil fireball is coming to wipe out all of human civilization as we know it shortly after he gets sworn in.

In my estimation, Barack Obama isn’t an “elitist”, he’s a realist. We can’t bring this nation together without real open adult dialogue between all of it’s constituents from sea to shining sea about all of the issues that we as Americans face together. That’s why Barack Obama has my endorsement for President in ‘08. I have trust in him answering the phone at 3 AM to handle whatever the issue on the other end of the phone may be...even if it’s an impending alien attack (come on...a Black President in the White House? It can happen!)



Anonymous said...

yo Dart.... awesome post!!!!

if the media would present a black president who didn't need white anywhere to "save the day" the world would go apeshit.

Obama is definitely the man to encourage a change!

Anonymous said...

I would say as an avid "24" diehard (surprise surprise The Rap Jack Bauer), David Palmer is/was the greatest president I've ever seen ANYWHERE--in real life, in sci-fi, on TV, in books, etc. Granted, he did have Jack do all the dirty work, but David Palmer ALWAYS made the right decision regardless of the heat he would catch from the media, his advisors, his bloodsucking wife, foreign nations, and the American people.

If Dennis Haysbert ran for president tomorrow, I would NO DOUBT vote for him just off the strength of a fictional character he played for 4 years.

In related news, Haysbert is not on speaking terms with the producers of "24" who assassinated him at the beginning of season 5. I heard him on a radio interview last year spill his guts on the topic.

He was leaving "24" to join "The Unit" but was EXTREMELY proud of the David Palmer character as a black president full of integrity and character and felt he was dealt an unfair hand by being assassinated like other famous black leaders.

He went on to say it was the biggest regret of his career to go along with the storyline.

Dart Adams said...

@ Zilla:

Yeah, I know about the issues between Haysbert and the producers of "24" and while you're right about Haysbert's role as David Palmer the way he was taken off the show was pretty lame because everyone saw it coming. When it finally went down eyes rolled and teeth were sucked all across this great nation of ours.


Mr. B. said...

now that's how you write a blog. great effin' post Dart!!! bravo.

Anonymous said...

Thats interesting about the disaster correlation. I never put it together that theres a consistent relationship between impending disaster and black presidents in the movies. I wanna find that JEJ movie The Man. That will be very interesting. BTW we need to make our own movies ala The Spook Who Sat By The Door. Good and poignant research.