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The Obama Effect

Entertainment Weekly examines what pop culture will look like in an age of Obama — and the conclusion is well, pretty much inconclusive.

“Six months from now, which movie will best connect with the national mood?

“Three weeks after the election of Barack Obama as President of the United States, a lot of folks in Hollywood are
asking themselves that kind of question. Never mind the change Obama’s
about to bring to Washington; what’s his presidency going to mean to
entertainment? Most Commanders-in-Chief leave big footprints on the
culture. JFK launched America into the New Frontier amid visions of
Camelot and cheery fare like “The Dick Van Dyke Show.” Reagan made it morning in America with a patriotic surge that produced Tom Cruise in “Top Gun” and the sweet excesses of “Dynasty.” George W. Bush set the world stage for jittery, paranoid dramas brimming with government conspiracies (even the Dark Knight
violated wiretapping laws). And now there’s a new guy moving into the
West Wing — elected on a platform of hope — with the potential to plant
Sasquatch-size tracks all over the zeitgeist. ”The idea of change and
hope has permeated the country, regardless of politics, and that
includes Hollywood,” says Kevin Feige, president of production at
Marvel Studios, home to “Iron Man” and the soon-to-be-launched “Captain America.” ”Discussions in all our development meetings include the zeitgeist and
how it’s changed in the last two weeks. Things are being adjusted.”

I don’t doubt that there will be a shift in what comes out of Hollywood in the coming years. The whole idea that Marvel would make a “Captain America” with an eye for a worldwide release was considered a joke not too long ago. Warner Bros. even refrained from using the phrase “truth, justice and the American way” when it released “Superman Returns” a few years back. 

But it still seems way too early to predict a cultural shift, or even whether it would be motivated by Obama’s presidency. The collapsing economy could have just as much impact — or even the same impact. Moviegoers and TV viewers may need to watch anything that carries a message of hope as they struggle with lost jobs and depleted savings accounts.

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