I once read that at one point in world history the two most recognizable figures on the planet were not Jesus Christ and Muhammad, but rather Charlie Chaplin and Mickey Mouse. It said that you could take a picture of Mickey Mouse anywhere on the planet – whether it was India, Chile, Zimbabwe, Siberia or Cambodia – and people would be able to declare the character’s name much easier than any other. That was in the age of silent movies and comic strips… long before the Internet. Today, thanks to advances in the world of communication, information and images are exchanged around the world at the speed of light and that has made a major impact on how we categorize the most recognizable figures on the planet.
Today, based on Google search results, the list looks closer to this:
1. Jesus Christ (665,000,000)
2. Michael Jackson (333,000,000)
3. Madonna (219,000,000)
4. The Beatles (205,000,000)
5. Barack Obama (196,000,000)
6. Muhammad (194,000,000)
7. Elvis Presley (176,000,000)
8. William Shakespeare (128,000,000)
9. Mozart (118,000,000)
10. Walt Disney (115,000,000)
11. Albert Einstein (109,000,000)
12. Buddha (105,000,000)
In modern times, both Mickey Mouse (58,600,000) and Charlie Chaplin (8,620,000) don’t even make it in the Top 20. But what’s fascinating is how a relatively unknown Senator from Illinois in 2007, by the name of Barack Obama, skyrocketed into the Top 5 in the span of just a handful of months.
In fact, Vanity Fair went so far as to release an article in 2009 declaring that Obama was effectively the most famous living person in history (never mind at the time that Michael Jackson, Madonna and most of The Beatles were still alive). The author of the article (and former Clinton Press Secretary), Dee Dee Myers, based her assertion that Obama’s story has international roots and that people all over the world were able to track his journey to the White House.
George W. Bush didn’t have the international roots and even after ten years since he took office, his Google results of 86,900,000 are less than half of what Obama has acquired in a fraction of the time.
The amount of references that exist on the Internet found in Google search results does help gauge the popularity of certain figures throughout the world. That is true. The question is how accurately? Another source revealed some similar search results.
Wikipedia, an online open source Encyclopedia, compiles search results as well. In 2009, the top most searched figures (excludes locations, websites and events) were:
1. The Beatles (111,896)
2. Michael Jackson (79,734)
3. Barack Obama (49,401)
4. Lil Wayne (26,210)
5. Adolf Hitler (25,481)
Again, The Beatles, Michael Jackson and Barack Obama were on the Top 5. George W. Bush was 18th on the list (18,964), right below Farrah Fawcett.
Evidently, Obama’s Cult of Personality has spread far and wide. He’s clearly twice as much of a recognizable figure worldwide as George W. Bush. And that being the case, wouldn’t it be safe to presume that material about Obama would have twice as large of an audience and double the impact than material about George W. Bush? It stands to reason. But missing from the world of entertainment is the lampooning of Barack Obama. Why?
Don’t we remember George W. Bush being the subject of Jay Leno, David Letterman and Jimmy Kimmel’s jokes on a nightly basis? Wasn’t George W. Bush portrayed by Will Ferrell on Saturday Night Live (“SNL”) every single week? Weren’t there several movies and documentaries directly and indirectly about the Bush Presidency during his entire two terms?
I’ve been witness to this in the entertainment industry for over a decade now. When a Republican is in power, its full throttle; however, when a Democrat is in power, it’s time to step on the brakes.
For some reason, after watching several episodes of SNL this season, it finally dawned on me that something – or someone – was missing from their cross-hairs… Obama. Rather, the concentration has been solely on Republicans… whether Republicans in Congress or Republican Presidential hopefuls. And that concentration is consistently negative.
Why would SNL, a show intended to attract the 18-to-34 age demographic, work tirelessly to make George W. Bush, Sarah Palin, Dick Cheney, John McCain and many other Republicans not only stupid, but often evil and go so soft on Barack Obama and the Democrats?
One would think, just for the ratings and success of the show that Obama, more than twice as recognizable world wide than George W. Bush, would be a regular target of the SNL family. Lord knows there is more than enough fodder with Solyndra, Fisker, Fast & Furious, new wars in Libya and Uganda without Congressional approval, Obamacare failures that include increasing healthcare costs, a broken 8% unemployment promise, the terrible economy, record setting food stamps, Obama anti-Israel attitudes, his support of the OWS morons, his taking over of the Internet, his Iraq pull out broken promise, his Guantanamo broken promise, his historic 2012 losses in Congress, his usurping of the Constitution, and the list is incredibly long.
The answer exists in a February 2008 Washington Times article with the creator and executive producer of SNL, Lorne Michaels, in which it was said, “Those impressions leave a mark.” It goes on to say that Lorne Michaels couldn’t be happier if his sketches have an impact on Presidential races. He may be a registered Independent, but the tone of his show is adamantly anti-Republican. And, evidently, he wants his anti-Republican show that leave voters with an impression that hopefully impacts elections.
Just contrast the treatment of George W. Bush in this Will Ferrell sketch to the one of the cool Obama.
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Like Clinton, Obama is portrayed as an intellectual who is likeable and “cool.” In the sketch Obama , played by Fred Armisen, says ,“No matter what the circumstances, I am going to keep it cool”, “if given a choice, I choose cool” and “I never play the fool like politics as usual, I keep it cool.” By contrast, Will Ferrell as George Bush in this Global Warming sketch states, “I have no idea what the hell I am talking about” and “They are making me look bad, using facts.”
Really!?! No, really!?! Really!?! Lorne Michaels?! Really…
Lorne Michaels, who maxed out the amount an individual could contribute to Barack Obama’s Presidential campaign, also said, “You can’t be partisan. If you are, at a certain point you’re going to stop being funny.” Well, people have been declaring SNL unfunny for the last twenty years. If he wants funny, maybe he should stop pushing his political agenda and look back on what initially made his show funny… Cone heads, Samurai Futaba, Nerds, Mr. Roger’s Neighborhood, Buckwheat Dead, Mr. Bill and so on.