Barack Obama is getting older. It’s no secret that being the President of the United States is a job so stressful that it ages (traditionally) men beyond their years, carving premature wrinkles into their faces and streaking their hair with gray. While this is nothing new, it is something the Obama campaign must consider. In 2008, candidate Obama ran on a platform of “change”. His vigor and youth—at 47, he was relatively young for a presidential candidate—complimented his message perfectly. This young, progressive, African American candidate was just the change that a generation disillusioned with the rich, old WASP’s on Capitol Hill wanted. Young voters rallied around Obama, who received 66% of the vote from citizens aged 18-29 in stark contrast to his 53% nationwide. This time around, with the unemployment rate still over 8% and job creation relatively stagnant, President Obama needs as many groups to rally around him as possible. He is no longer the avant-garde young presidential hopeful, but a mainstream political figure whom many have accused of selling out by accepting large corporate donations this election season. His story is no longer that of an unlikely underdog, but of an elite politician who knows how to throw his weight around on Capitol Hill.
With his image increasingly entwined with the mainstream political elite, how can President Obama appeal to the demographics that elected him for the exact opposite reason four years ago?
Luckily, President Obama doesn’t need to worry, because Samuel L. Jackson has got it covered. On September 27th, the now famous advertisement entitled “Wake the F*** Up”, sponsored by the super-PAC Jewish Council for Education and Research and unaffiliated with the Obama campaign, surfaced on YouTube. The R-rated spoof of a classic children’s story is narrated by Jackson, and stars a young girl talking to her family about the dangers of electing Mitt Romney. As any good campaign ad should be, it’s funny, sweet, charming and edgy. On Facebook this video spread like wildfire. People posted, liked, commented and shared. #WTFU is trending on Twitter as the video continues to make its way across the Web. Generation Internet loves this edgy but informative clip, which evokes nostalgia for when Barack Obama himself ran on a platform of rejecting the mainstream.
The Obama campaign should be ecstatic that someone unaffiliated with the campaign took the initiative to remind young Americans why they loved the candidate to begin with. He’s the child of a single mother who worked hard for everything they had. He’s the guy who was infamous among his high school friends for intercepting joints out of turn. He went by “Barry” and sported a ‘fro when he studied in the very same library and walked down the very same Quad as the students in this class. President Obama, Jackson is reminding us, is far from the “out of touch millionaire” who he claims has declared war on the nation. President Obama is still the young, progressive man who won the America’s hearts four years ago.
To my knowledge, the Obama campaign hasn’t yet released any statement regarding the video. Maybe keeping their distance from a controversial advertisement laced with profanity, sexuality, and racial and gender stereotypes is the right move for the President’s public relations team. But whether or not Obama chooses to associate himself with this ad, the message still resonates with the generation that elected him to begin with. President Obama is not your typical uptight, out-of-touch politician. He’s still just Barry, and he’s just like you and me.
– Claire Douglas