As we approach the 100 day mark of President Barack Obama’s administration, an army of pundits and the horses they rode in on are assessing the new president’s political successes and failures. Among the residual and nascent conflagrations Obama is addressing are a global recession and financial meltdown, military flashpoints including Iraq and Afghanistan, and a flu outbreak of a particularly swinish variety. And yet, there is much more to this man than politics.
Obama is also a cultural icon who seems to appeal most to those typically politically marginalized but culturally attuned: young people, minorities, creative types. It has been said that Obama is the first “hip” president (though some Clinton people may argue), the first to have an awareness of the nuances of the various strains of popular culture and how they come together and influence each other.
In commemoration of this president’s unique relationship with our culture – dude appears shirtless on a magazine cover, too bad he wasn’t Twittering at the time – over the next few days a scintillating selection of Blogcritics writers unwind the complex thread that Barack Hussein Obama – right after “Mao Saddam Hitler” among least likely U.S. presidential names – has already woven into our national fabric.
Barack Obama, Chia Pet
What do Barack Obama and Mr. T have in common (other than the obvious skin shading and gender)? They are the only two (actual) people that have been made into Chia Pets. What’s a Chia Pet? Thanks for asking. You’ve seen them in late night commercials. They are terra cotta colored clay miniature sculptures of animals and other things, that you cover with a slurry of “chia” seed and water—and viola! Watch them grow. Sheep, bunnies, dinosaurs, puppies, kittens… and now, President Barack Obama.
Of course Obama isn’t the first luminary to have been honored with being Chia-ed. There’s Garfield and Scooby Do. Oh, and two human-ish heads, one of which (called Chia Professor) resembles the frizzy-haired father of modern physics Albert Einstein (if you squint really hard).
It’s a rather seedy way to cash in on the Obama sensation. Even the commercial is cheesier than the usual “Chi-Chi-Chi-Chia!” commercial. To be honest, if you happen to catch one during a late night comedy show, you would swear it had to be a satire advertisement (and not a very good one).
The official “Chia Obama” website, greets you with the banner “Hail to the Chi-chi-chi-Chief” and gives you the choice of ordering serious-looking “Determined Chia Obama” or the grinning “Happy Chia Obama.” Chia Obama grows its chia (reportedly the chia seeds are a very healthy herb, full of Omega-3) into a full-blown (but not blow-dried) ’Fro.