Tuesday, January 20, 2009

The new Man

The soon-to-be-president doesn't have many role models in the culture. There was Chris Rock (who joked, re: Morgan Freeman in Deep Impact, about black presidents only being around for cinematic asteroid strikes) who ascended to the Oval Office at the tail end of the comedy Head of State. President Obama's predecessors on 24 didn't exactly have much time for good governance, and I trust Michelle Obama will be more supportive than the viperish Sherry was to the first President Palmer on the show. Rosalind Cash played the vice president in the half-prescient, half-terrible 1982 satire Wrong is Right, but the position is below his pay grade.

The 1972 film The Man, with James Earl Jones thrust into the presidency, is available only as a bootleg, a strange circumstance for a movie tailor-made for the occasion. The Manwas based on one of Irving Wallace's ripped-from-the-headlines potboilers, written by the esteemed Rod Serling, and directed by the able journeyman Joseph Sargent (The Taking of Pelham 1-2-3), a promising pedigree. I read most of Wallace's books, and the movie popped up from time to time on TV, but it eluded me in either medium, and it seems to have disappeared.

If the clip below is anything to go by, Obama may have his hands full by the time Sasha and Malia are teens. "How the hell do I get out of this First Family?" indeed; the tabloids would have a field day with that! If nothing else, The Man is a useful reminder of a time, not so long ago, when an African-American president was thought only to be possible by accident. How wonderful it was to hear the cheering throughout Brooklyn when Obama was elected; how wonderful it is to welcome him to the White House.

No comments: