The beautiful thing about living in the United States is that we have the constitutional freedom to say almost anything we want. Which includes our opinions on our country’s leader, either good or bad. I could hypothetically go on live television right now and spew several reasons why I dislike Barack Obama.
As long as I were to present my thoughts in a civil, non-threatening manner, I would have free rein to say why I believe he sucks at his job, and why he should be replaced. Of course I don’t actually feel that way, quite the contrary, so for me, it’s a moot point. But obviously there are some people in the world who do. No national leader has ever been — or will be — universally loved.
Not every other country is like that. In some parts of the world, you could be thrown in jail if you speak ill of your leader. In America, our right to free speech is obviously something many take for granted.
Some may disapprove of Obama’s policies and stances on certain issues, but shoving that aside, there’s no denying that he’s just a cool dude.
Yeah, I know. “It doesn’t matter how cool a president is, it matters how effective they are!” But sometimes people forget that when our president represents himself as “normal guy” with a sense of humor, that it is usually for strategic purposes. Not everybody is going to listen to the State of the Union address, or read the Washington Post, or view his press conferences on CSPAN.
Sometimes it even takes an appearance on a comedic website to raise awareness of an important issue towards a certain group of people.
And that’s exactly what Obama did by appearing on “Between Two Ferns with Zack Galifianakis,” which appeared on the Funny or Die website this morning.
Between Two Ferns is an Internet comedy show that debuted in 2008 hosted by Galifianakis. It features celebrity interviews that take place between two potted ferns where Galifianakis asks absurd, ignorant questions that rarely have any basis in actual fact, intentionally creating tension and awkwardness between him and his celebrity guest. It’s completely scripted, but it still makes for comedy gold.
In the past, the segment has featured guests like Michael Cera, Bradley Cooper, Jennifer Lawrence, Anne Hathaway, Justin Bieber, among others. And now, President Barack Obama can be added to that list.
The 6 minute and 20 second interview is hysterical, as Obama not only flows with Galifianikis’s schtick, but throws some zingers right back at him. When Galifianakis asks him if he’s disappointed he can’t run for a third term, Obama responds, “If I ran a third time, it’d be sort of like doing a third Hangover movie. Didn’t really work out very well, did it?”
And Galifianakis asks his usual silly questions, my personal favorite being, “Will it be hard for you in three years when people stop letting you win at basketball?”
The entire purpose of the interview is so Obama could plug the Affordable Healthcare Act and its corresponding website, healthcare.gov, to young people. He spends about two minutes talking about it, specifically addressing young people, going as far as saying that many of them think of themselves as “invincible” and not needing healthcare. Which is probably true. The deadline to apply is March 21, which is likely why the video was released today.
The entertainment website Vulture interviewed Between Two Ferns Executive Producer Scott Aukerman about how it all went down. Apparently it had been in the works since last July when him and Galifianakis learned that Obama was interested in making a video to promote the healthcare act to address a younger audience. The pair pitched the idea to one of his aides, and finally, it all came together. The episode was filmed inside of the White House.
People will say that he should be taking care of more important tasks rather than appearing on a comedy website, but hey, the video has 8.3 million views in less than 12 hours, so obviously he’s getting the message across. Which is exactly what the plan was. Because now we’re all talking about it.
Well played, Barry O. Well played.