Last week, Academic Coach Taylor explored some of the early manifestations of the Obama+Unicorn meme. The unicorn marks Obama’s pre-presidential relationship to hope, paradise, and collective political fantasies, but there’s an inverse to these gleeful images now that Obama hasn’t been able to shower us all with free health care and 0% unemployment rates: so what’s it mean when Obama’s political opponents take jabs at the unicorn?
Because of the unicorn’s fantasy-based set of cultural associations, the beast accompanies a specifically utopian politics — what is a unicorn if not the representative of a politics of Hope? In the past years and recent present, Republicans seem particularly testy about Obama’s unicorn-charming magic. In a 2010 April Fool’s vid, the National Republican Senatorial Committee [NRSC] precisely honed in on the failed promises of the Obama Dream Machine, the unicorn standing in for the audacity of liberal hope and broken faith of low-emission unicorns.
Long the staple of Lisa Frank folders and bad fantasy, the unicorn is associated with all we hold close to our hearts: sandy shores, moody waterfalls, misty woodlands and awesome rainbows. But we can’t ignore the newest historic function of the unicorn: Barack Obama’s noble mount-of-choice. When Obama publicly announced his support for gay marriage, it took the internet all of 10 seconds to photoshop him shooting rainbow lasers of love upon his liberal citizens while proudly riding a unicorn through a field that looks like a Windows 7 background.
But Obama’s affiliation with unicorns has been going on since he “fantastically” nailed his nomination for President in 2008. It’s a phenomenon unique to the late aughts and early 21st-teens — Obama is the first President “of” the truly hatched internet generation. But why unicorns? Follow me on a three-part exploration touring Barack Obama’s greatest unicorn hits, in an attempt to get to the bottom of the mythic creature Obama gets atop, and rein in (just a bit) the wily politics of the unicorn.
The editor of Academic Coach Taylor, a blog of encouragement and ass-kicking for academics based on the main character of Friday Night Lights, is a Ph.D. candidate working in gender studies and media studies. ACT has smart opinions. Here’s one:
Wednesday, May 9, BuzzFeed posted a screenshot aggregation article titled “39 Ways Men Use Pinterest”. What followed was an all-too-obvious collection of boards like “Food I want My wife to Cook” (white chocolate cupcakes with truffle filling!) and “Things I’d like my wife to wear” (Xena-style mini skirt and bra separates!) and one particularly gay-tastic board of drag-queen-worthy pumps, “Shoes I Wish My Wife Would Wear” (srsly, bro?).
Was there ever a clearer indication, the Internet howled, of the piggishness of men?