The Iconic Obama, 2007–2009

Essays on Media Representations of the Candidate and New President

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About the Book

How is Barack Obama represented in popular culture? More than the United States’ 44th president, he is also a lens through which we can examine politics, art, comics, and music in various contexts. The essays in this collection focus on the buildup to the 2008 election as well as Obama’s first year as president, a brief historical moment in which “Obama” was synonymous with possibility. The contributors represent a variety of scholarly fields such as film, journalism, mass communication, popular culture and African American studies, each adding a unique perspective on Obama’s relationship to American culture.

About the Author(s)

Nicholas A. Yanes is a Ph.D. graduate candidate (ABD) in the University of Iowa’s Department of American Studies and a Dean’s Graduate Fellow. He has published multiple pieces on popular culture. He lives in Iowa City, Iowa.
Derrais Carter is an American Studies doctoral candidate at The University of Iowa where he also teaches rhetoric. He has previously published essays on black masculinity and feminism. He lives in Iowa City, Iowa.

Bibliographic Details

Edited by Nicholas A. Yanes and Derrais Carter
Format: softcover (6 x 9)
Pages: 272
Bibliographic Info: 2 photos, bibliography, index
Copyright Date: 2012
pISBN: 978-0-7864-4602-5
eISBN: 978-0-7864-9269-5
Imprint: McFarland

Table of Contents

Acknowledgments      xi
Introduction
DERRAIS CARTER      1

ONE—Forging a Brand: Introducing Obama-Mania
Popular Culture in the Age of Obama
ANGELA NELSON      9
The Modern E Pluribus Unum Man: How Obama Constructed His American Identity from His Global Background
ETSE SIKANKU AND NICHOLAS A. YANES      16
Myth, Symbol, and the Branding of an American Presidency
PATRICK B. ORAY      28

TWO—Film and Television: Change Televised
Character-in-Chief: Barack Obama and His Pop Culture Predecessors
JUSTIN S. VAUGHN      45
Barack Obama or B. Hussein? The Post-Racial Debate in Boston Legal
JENNY BANH      63

THREE—Hip-Hop Culture: Remixed Response to Obama’s Popularity
“The Audacity of Dope”: Rap Music, Race, and the Obama Presidency
TRAVIS L. GOSA      85
The Politics of Tagging: Shepard Fairey’s Obama
ERIKA SCHNEIDER      97

FOUR—Comic Books: Obama’s Popularity and the Original Superhero Medium
Obama and Spider-Man: A Meta-Data Media Analysis of an Unlikely Pairing
ROBERT G. WEINER AND SHELLEY E. BARBA      113
Comics and Politics: An Interview with Larry Hama, Creator of Barack the Barbarian
NICHOLAS A. YANES      128

FIVE—News Media and New Media: The Impact of Presidential News Politics and Digital Social Networks
Change That Couldn’t Happen: News Media’s Commitment to Hegemonic Masculinity through Collective Memory in the 2008 Presidential Election
ROBERT E. GUTSCHE, JR., JAMES CARVIOU, AND RAUF ARIF      133
The President Speaks to America’s Schoolchildren: Outline of a Brouhaha
JOHN T. “JACK” BECKER      151
Obama Jungle Fever: Interracial Desire on the Campaign Trail
CAROLINE A. STREETER      167
How to Understand Obama’s Election News Coverage: An Interview with Daniel Berkowitz
NICHOLAS A. YANES, WITH DERRAIS CARTER AND ROBERT E. GUTSCHE, JR.      184
New Media’s Impact on Elections: An Interview with Obama Girl Creator Ben Relles
JAMES CARVIOU      189

SIX—International Responses: Obama’s Popularity Goes Global
Obama for Obama: Barack Obama in Japanese Popular Culture
YUYA KIUCHI      197
Obama-Mania in Turkey: Popular Culture and the Forty-Fourth President of the United States in a Secular Muslim Nation
ZAFER PARLAK AND TANFER EMIN TUNC      213
France’s News Media and Obama’s French Popularity: Interview with Sébastian Compagnon
NICHOLAS A. YANES      231

Conclusion: What Happened to Obama-Mania?
NICHOLAS A. YANES      236
Appendix: A Bibliography of Obama in Comics
NICHOLAS A. YANES      245
About the Contributors      251
Index      255

Book Reviews & Awards

“fascinating text”—Journal of American Culture; “fascinating”—American Studies; “a well-done project”—Journal of Communication Inquiry.