Impact of Barack Obama on Pop Culture

There is really no denying that Barack Obama is one of the most popular US presidents of all time, and his popularity is still quite high even after his term. Serving as the fifth-youngest president and also the first African-American president of the United States, many Americans would say that Barack Obama was a relatable president during his term, as he understands the qualms and opinions of the millennials and the younger generation while also being able to have a connection with the older generation because of his knowledge in different fields of governing a country.

Because of his relatability, Barack Obama had a significant impact on pop culture during the late 2000s up to the early 2010s. Most of the pop culture references regarding Obama are mainly positive, as he is seen as a beloved figure not only amongst Americans but people from other countries as well. However, there are also some references that are negative, and these ones usually pertain to Obama’s failures and mistakes in certain projects and actions. But Barack Obama has actually taken these negative references well, which made him much more likable since he is able to poke fun at himself sometimes. To know more about these pop culture references about the first African-American US president, let us get a closer look at some of the most popular Barack Obama pop culture moments.

Obama’s Mic Drop

During Barack Obama’s last White House Correspondents’ Dinner in April 2016, he made a memorable gesture that has been referenced time and time again even after his term as US president ended. The famous gesture happened right after his speech, wherein he said, “I just have two more words to say: Obama out.” After the mic drop, the crowd cheered, and that eventually became one of the best last moments of Obama as the president of the United States.

While many are familiar with Obama’s mic drop, there are only a few who knows that the gesture was actually a reference to another famous person that was also retiring from a job he is famous for. That famous person is Kobe Bryant, who retired from the NBA and the Los Angeles Lakers after a lustrous 20-year career. In Bryant’s last game, he was given a chance to give a speech for his fans and the crowd at the Staples Center, and after he said “Mamba out,” he dropped the mic on the floor of the court. Kobe Bryant retired just a few days before Obama’s infamous mic drop speech.

Obama’s Slow-Jam the News


One of Obama’s most famous TV appearances occurred in The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon, wherein he participated in the “Slow-Jam the News” segment a few months after his term ended. In the segment, Jimmy Fallon, Obama, and several musicians performed a news report that details all the accomplishments done by the Obama administration, but the catch in the segment is that the report sounds like a jazz song because of the background music and occasional singing.

Obama’s appearance in 2016 was the only time he performed in the “Slow-Jam the News,” as he also participated in the same segment in 2012, particularly during his campaign for reelection. As he did win the reelection in the said year, we could say that the “Slow-Jam the News” appearance may have helped boost his popularity amongst voters.

Running Wild with Bear Grylls

In order to raise awareness to climate change, Barack Obama participated as a celebrity guest in Bear Grylls show titled “Running Wild with Bear Grylls.” In the show, Obama stated that his day filming segments with Bear Grylls is one of the best days of his presidency, as he didn’t need to wear a suit and he is not in the office, which is where he is most of the time. 

According to Bear Grylls, Barack Obama was accompanied by a secret service team that monitors where Obama is going and what he is eating, and because of the circumstances, Grylls wasn’t able to ask Obama to do daring stunts or eat exotic food for survival. However, Obama ate a piece of salmon that was half-eaten by a bear, which could be considered as an act of surviving since you would sometimes need to scavenge for food to survive. Despite the restrictions, Grylls did compliment Obama after the show, saying that the president is humble and a straightforward guy.

Going on a Food Trip in Vietnam with Anthony Bourdain

Barack Obama became trending and popular in Vietnam after he went on a food trip with Anthony Bourdain in the said country. The food trip is included as a segment in Bourdain’s show called “Parts Unknown,” wherein the famous TV star tries out different delicacies that are unknown in most parts of the world. In the Obama segment, both Bourdain and Obama tried out a local specialty called “bun cha,” which is a type of meatball that is popular in Hanoi, the capital city of Vietnam.

After the segment aired, the people of Vietnam got to know Obama a little bit better, and the US president suddenly became relatable in the country. In addition to exposing Obama to the Southeast Asian country, a lot of Americans also became familiar with the delicious bun cha and the beautiful country of Vietnam, so the Vietnamese also benefited from Obama’s appearance in Bourdain’s show.

These are four of the most well-known pop culture moments for Barack Obama during his presidential term. Even though his term ended years ago, Barack Obama remains a big pop culture icon, and his philosophy and ideals, which eventually turned into “Obamaism,” are still being followed by many Democratic Party members and voters today.