When celebrities suddenly start endorsing products, people get excited. When the President of the United States of America appears in an advertisement, videos go viral and people get feverish with the excitement (*sorry for the bad joke*).
On Thursday, a video sponsored by the popular site Buzzfeed went viral on the internet- it has Obama waiting for a (very good-looking) reporter to turn up at the White House, to interview him on the new Obama HealthCare Plan and encourage people to enroll by the February 15th deadline. To get out of his boredom, Obama is practicing his speech in front of the mirror and also you know, posing with Biden’s shades and shooting imaginary hoops and playing around with a selfie stick- things people do when they’re bored- those things. (Yeah, the video is called Things Everybody Does but Doesn’t Talk About. Or something of that sort. I swear the title is the least interesting thing about the video).
What is ObamaCare? The official name for the act is the Patients Protection and Affordable Care Act. It aims to provide affordable and quality health insurance to the people. According to the official ObamaCare website, 87% of those who applied for market place health care were provided with cheaper health insurance. This plan does not replace private insurance, mediclaim etc, instead it seeks to reform health insurance policies. What Obama and the buzzfeed video do is to encourage people to enrol for ObamaCare before its 15th February deadline, before enrolment closes again for almost a year.
Why is Obama trying to play the cool-dude approachable just-another-guy? The people they want to appeal to are you and I, obviously. I mean our American versions of voters, aged between 18 and 35-young and smart and cool. The people who are affected by net videos. It’s not a new thing. Obama has been a pretty ‘fun’ President so far-appearing on talk shows and online chats and quoting DDLJ. So a video to promote a healthcare policy shouldn’t be so unimaginable.
And the video got some 1.6 million likes in one hour. So clearly he’s doing something right. It also managed to make Facebook and Twitter go crazy, though the reactions were mixed, some claiming it was hilarious while others realizing that it was overrated and hyped and rather pointless when Mr. President could probably have been doing more world-changing stuff. Like taking decisions. (Such a cool thing to do. I can’t decide what I want for dinner. And man… World-Changing Decisions! How does he sleep at night?)
Someone said that it was good to see a celebrity being ‘normal’ and everyday once in a while. Guys! This was in front of a camera. This is neither normal nor everyday because there is not only an implied audience here but a required audience, an audience for whom this whole drama is performed in the first place. It is an act.
Was it fun to watch? Of course. Was it funny? Sure. Will it help ObamaCare? I suppose so. It definitely got it a whole lot of publicity. Will it help win Obama an election? I’m no soothsayer. But there’s no denying that the internet is an extremely important source of news and it can’t be ignored if you’re going to try to reach out to more and more people. It has to embraced.
So everyone who’s said that the ad is undignified and unpresidential needs to stop. It’s a conscious decision and it’s sure got him a lot of attention. And if he doesn’t mind, I don’t see why anyone else should.
Mostly, let’s just enjoy it because it’s a fun ad to watch. Because who doesn’t like seeing a world leader clowning around without looking completely moronic.
Because we are ultimately, as a nation, right from Modiji, all obsessed with Obama.
By Shreemayee Das