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Tuesday, June 25, 2024

Starting Wednesday, President Barack Obama must live up to his celebrated image.

On top of saving the world and renewing hope in humanity, Obama must regain control over his sublimely powerful and visible position on the cusp of a worldwide wave of optimism.

Inauguration celebrations that cost $170 million do not applaud those who lack power, and our bailed-out circumstances have charged the new president with spending a sum of money that even mathmagicians find difficult to fathom. Teetering on a super majority in Congress, Obama spearheads a Democratic machine set to rule absolutely.

America may be crippled with debt and paralyzed by wars against nations and nouns, but we remain the shining light on the hill. America, translated into any language, still means that a more perfect union is possible. America is an ideal - but it is a reality as well. Heck, this is "where wings take dream," as outgoing President George W. Bush so eloquently put it.

Obama is a one-man economic revival kit who now stands as the most successful campaign fundraiser in the history of politics. The man oozes charisma and has a decent jump shot, but bootlegged T-shirts and commemorative plates only go so far. Obama may find it imperative to beat back the desperate and hungry minions of the media in order to separate the man from the myth and actually govern this country.

Everybody wants a slice of Obama's shine, but none more so than the corporate media industry. Television and print media have completely hitched their fading fortunes to an iconic image of Obama that no man can reasonably sustain. Television executives are calling this inauguration a "second Super Bowl" because of the exorbitant rates charged for advertising.

Such an over-dependence on advertising, however, is the addiction that has placed our media in its current sorry state. Nobody in corporate media has figured out a way to make any money off the Internet as of yet, and newspapers are less economically solvent than your average crack dealer. Fawning over Obama means advertising revenue right now, and perhaps favorable terms in the inevitable newspaper bailout conundrum looming in our immediate future.

Even without the cloying media orgy, Obama's image is of critical commercial interest across the world. Shepard Fairey created the now-famous red, white and blue "Hope" image associated with Obama's campaign after becoming legendary for making pseudo-propaganda under the equally powerful slogan "Obey." Pepsi spent millions of dollars re-engineering their logo to be more similar to the iconic Obama campaign "O," and synced it with the launch of a huge ad campaign touting "Optimism" alongside their corn-syrup concoctions. Ideally, one need not obey in order to have hope and optimism.

Perhaps these views are more cynical than such a celebratory moment deserves, and for that, I apologize. Today's inauguration may very well be the greatest day in the history of our American union, but as we move forward, a man ­­- not a symbol - shall lead the nation.

Tommy Maple is an international communications graduate student. His column appears on Tuesdays.

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