Presidential History

The Seven Black Presidents Before Obama

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Sean Higgins has a thoughtful and fun piece in America's Future Foundation's Doublethink about TV and movie versions of black presidents and how such depictions reflect changes in racial attitudes. Here's a snippet:

The notion of a black president has become so non-controversial for white directors that they don't draw attention to it even in political satire. In Mike Judge's 2006 sci-fi comedy Idiocracy, by the year 2505 the world has been decimated by trailer-park types who have been rampantly outbreeding smarter people for centuries. (The scientists were too busy "conquering hair loss and prolonging erections" to notice.) As a result, the entire population has become a bunch of morons.

In Judge's future, the English language has deteriorated into a "hybrid of hillbilly, valley girl, inner-city slang, and various grunts." Anybody accused of acting smart is called a "fag." And yet despite the fact that language is reduced to its most vulgar level, racial epithets are conspicuously absent from the lexicon, implying that racism too has been expunged.

Indeed, the morons elect porn superstar and "five-time ultimate smackdown wrestling champion" Dwayne Elizondo Mountain Dew Herbert Camacho, played by black actor Terry Crews, as their president. At the end of the film, star Luke Wilson becomes the new president. He marries Rita, played by Saturday Night Live regular Maya Rudolph, giving the future world a black First Lady.

By imagining a post-racial future, did Idiocracy and other films such as Deep Impact help lay the groundwork for an Obama victory? Not quite, but the piece is well worth reading.