I bet money that there are hundreds of scripts based on Barack Obama in circulations or being written in Hollywood right now. The current American President’s life is tailor made for Oscar bait that I almost can’t stand to think about the film(s) that don’t actually exist yet.
There are so many parts of President Obama’s life that would translate well to film, but there is one story which I hope Hollywood is brave enough to tell. The story of President Obama and his birth certificate.
Since President Obama’s election in 2008, America has been patting itself on the back and shouting nonsensical phrases like ‘post-racial’. It was almost like Obama’s election had purged a shameful family secret and lifted the guilt off of the nation’s shoulders. This was reflected in Hollywood where the embargo to speak on the issues of race and slavery was in place for years.
The worldwide community seemed to embrace this new America – say what you want, the sight of a black face as the leader of a country with the history such as the United States was a big deal. I even bought into the hype and I believed in the new America even after the highly contentious Healthcare debate. But the bubble burst for me during the 2012 American Presidential Elections.
As a gorger of American political news, the 2012 political season (2010-2012) was a time where the mainstream media, press or television, refused to call a spade a spade (this may have been a bad saying to use at this point).
The dog whistling going on in the Republican Presidential nomination race was just gob-smacking for me, and it wasn’t just the fringe candidates at it. You had Newt Gingrich actually saying in front of air breathing human beings that President Obama could only be understood by people who “understand Kenyan, anti-colonial behaviour”. Michelle Bachmann… ok strike that. Mike Huckabee, someone who I find quite pleasant but disagree with him profoundly on anything political, claimed that Mr Obama was raised in Kenya.
But it was faux presidential candidate, Donald Trump, who pissed me off the most. Here is a guy who flat out questioned the President’s citizenship and therefore authenticity as the leader of the country. Everything that came out of Donald’s mouth during the campaign was a verifiable flat out lie yet he kept being asked on national shows and sought after by press. Importantly, I can’t think of one major political figure from the Republican party that called Trump out on his lies.
Here is the thing, Donald Trump is a very intelligent guy. I agree partly with Lawrence O’Donnell that Trump never intended to run and was just drumming up promotion for his TV show. What Trump was also doing was weakening Obama on an issue that he was vulnerable on – his race. Mr Obama barely talks about the subject for fear that people might just clock on to the fact that, yes, he is black (I kid… kind of). Trump also knew that a lot of people in America were uncomfortable with Obama because of the colour of his skin. Let me be clear, I am not saying everyone that didn’t vote for Obama is a racist.
But there is a reason why John Boehner and Eric Cantor refused to beat back the birthers. These allegations, not any candidate, excited their electorial base.
I for one was heartbroken when President Obama released his birth certificate. I understand that it was causing too much problem but it was giving in to bullies. The GOP didn’t pay for the controversy and the media swept it under the carpet. It has been forgotten.
Days after Obama released his certificate, word came down that Osama Bin Laden had been killed. More people will now remember that period of his presidency for that action rather than the bile abuse he received from his political opposition and the media that enabled them. And rightly so I guess.
But the story of Barack Obama and his birth certificate should not be forgotten – it is an important story to tell. It is a story of how the first non-white President of America was asked to succumb to a standard of proof for citizenship that no other candidate before him has had to go through. It is a story of modern day racism being played out in front of the media but under a hood.