Hipsterdom Invades the White House

It’s official. The dark cloud of Hipsterdom has penetrated new terrain: the White House. Obama has been showered with praise in recent days. It started with Madison Avenue rewarding Obama the much-coveted reward of “Marketer of the Year” for 2008. Polls and media outlets are lauding the first 100 days of the administration, confirming Americans’ satisfaction with the President.

That is, with the President Obama that suavely graces the airwaves, smoothly works the talk-show circuit, and still finds time for the most American of priorities: professional sports. Don’t confuse this being with the actual President Obama, the guy who has been lining the pockets of Wall Street, dropping bombs on civilians in the Middle East, or maneuvering his way out of a legitimate single-payer national health program.

But polls aren’t measuring Americans’ satisfaction with the real President, the policy maker. They’re measuring popular satisfaction with the methodically manufactured media persona-version of the American President, a strange amalgalm of popular sentiments and hip character traits. A vacuous mockery of a genuine human being, glossed over with contemporary strokes of cool.

Poltico reported that “Barack Hussein Obama is the nation’s first hip president…See the body language, the expressions, the clothes. He’s got attitude, rhythm, a sense of humor, contemporary tastes.  Whether dealing with the Wall Street mess, shifting troops from Iraq to Afghanistan or fumbling to fill his Cabinet, Obama leans heavily on personal panache to push political policies…Pure and simple, it’s hip.”

The Presidency has long been tainted with old, traditional, WASP-like vibes…anathema to the hippest of Hipsters.  But Obama is so cool, so smooth, so on it…that he has managed to perform the most Presidential of duties-dropping bombs, cozying up to Wall Street, performing at press conferences-without tranishing his Hip credentials in the least bit.

Thus, “Obama’s hipness reinforces that he’s different, yet he’s comfortingly familiar to Americans who want to revere their presidents as pedestal material while demanding that they be approachable as the guy next door.”

Of course, it’s not all Obama. Michelle doesn’t hurt, scoring the first family major points with America’s elite of Hip. “He is green, open, athletic, tech-savvy, healthy. And his hip image certainly isn’t hurt by his wife, who is so obviously cool — setting trends (Sleeveless! Tending her own garden!), confidently mingling with superstars, gracing magazine covers coast to coast.”

I wasn’t around for Kennedy. And while he undoubtedly mastered the arts of Hollywoodized Washigton power games, and Clinton further refining them with the sax or MTV and Arsenio Hall appearance, Obama is taking it to new heights.

The Politico again…”It’s so hip that school kids in Albany, N.Y., coined a term for it: ‘Baracking’ And it doesn’t stop there. Those in the know at Albany High greet each other by saying: “What’s up, my Obama?” and they respond to a sneeze with “Barack you.” Misbehavior is peer-corrected with the admonition, “Barack’s in the White House,” which translates, “Show some respect.”

“The implication was that if you were not on board, you were not hip — you were square. And who wants to be so uncool as to be on the wrong side of the hip president…”

If the American Empire can permanently convince the people (specifically, the youth) that Obama’s commodified facade is “cool” or “hip”, despite the glaring and discomfiting reality that very little has changed,  then a fresh new language of “hope and change” to ensure social cohesion has been born (or maybe just reborn),  and nothing less than a new electoral/PR/advertising paradigm has emerged out of Obamamania.


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