Former president and current salt and pepper zaddy Barack Obama continued his post-White House yearly tradition of releasing his favorite books, movies, and TV shows and flexing on all of us who are still trying to find time to catch up on the final season of Game of Thrones (no spoilers!). The list is chock full of universally acclaimed faves like Stephanie Land’s Maid, Colson Whitehead’s The Nickel Boys, Little Women, and Fleabag (not even Barack Obama is immune to fourth-wall breaking and Hot Priest). But with 37 books (plus the complete works of Toni Morrison), 18 movies (including The Irishman, which is actually still going and has no intention of ending), and three (relatively short) seasons of television shows, and a surely fire music list still to come, it’s Becoming clear (an inside joke between me and Michelle) that the Obamas have far more time for entertainment than the average person and I need a full investigation.
Some casual observations:
- Obama read Sally Rooney on his commute just like the rest of us.
- A lot of rich people enjoying Parasite this year. You… love to see it? That… rocks?
- Confirmed: Obama also bought the Fleabag jumpsuit.
- The Dernaissance continues!
- Barack’s knives? In. Gems? Cut. Truly a scandal.
These aren’t even all the books he read this year and all the movies he saw. These are just his favorites. Obama saw some movies (*cough* Cats) and was like “This is… uh… fine.” And that was that! How? This man is one of the most in-demand speakers in the world, he has to constantly rebuff people who want him to save democracy, and he still had time to watch Large Adam Driver punch a wall in Marriage Story? How, I said! Maybe my tinfoil hat is a little too tight, but I am firmly of the belief that Barack Obama is Dr. Manhattan. That’s the only explanation.
Many on Twitter have countered that he 1) is retired, 2) doesn’t tweet all day like some people (I presume this is about the president and not about me but really the jury is out), 3) has a staff that vets books for him. I will now take these arguments one-by-one like the lawyer in Ford v Ferrari (which I haven’t seen but I assume is the time Henry Ford sued Enzo Ferrari over air rights.)
Barack Obama has plenty of time since he is retired
Look, I admittedly don’t know much about retirement. My 401k has $15 and a couple outstanding Venmo requests in it so I’m not really sure it’s going to be a reality for me. But even I know that when people retire they either get really involved in spending all day commenting on articles on their local newspaper’s website or they find other, meaningful ways of giving back and being productive. Some people take up scrapbooking, Barack Obama started a foundation, a production company, and is building a museum to himself. Sis is busy! He’s not just lazing on the deck, paging through Wolf Hall, okay? He’s on the Acela Express, in the quiet car, cramming like it’s finals week. I’m stressed just thinking about it.
Barack Obama doesn’t tweet all day
We’re now in our third year of putting up with a C-list flop in the White House who insists he’s too busy to watch TV and then live-tweets everything Fox News puts out. It is… not ideal. And it’s true that anybody who steps away from social media finds themselves with more free time to read, write, hike, not undermine democracy, all the good stuff. So, it does stand to reason that any time not spent clapping back at Trump or retweeting Big Little Lies memes is time gained for other pursuits. If I stopped tweeting, I’d probably have enough time to invent time travel or learn how to fold a fitted sheet. But alas!
Barack Obama has a staff that reads for him
I have no evidence for or against this but it just doesn’t seem like something Obama would do. You forget, once upon a time we had a president who actually liked reading and didn’t actively despise literacy and culture. I feel like he wouldn’t deprive himself of the first-hand experience of Aretha Franklin belting in Amazing Grace or the dramatic turn in part two of Trust Exercise. Can you imagine reading the plot of Pachinko in a briefing like the plots of horror movies I pull up on Wikipedia because I am too scared to watch them? Outrageous! No, Barack Obama went down to his local multiplex, bought two tickets to Booksmart, laughed loudly and deeply, and then went home to write Malia and Sasha a long, emoji-filled email about it with the subject line “HIGHLY RECOMMEND! BEANIE FELDSTEIN! FROM DAD!” Then he nestled in the bed, pulled out his copy of The Yellow House and read until way past his bedtime before Barack Obama, the most Hermione Granger of former presidents, pulled out his time-turner and set the clock back 12 hours so he could continue to do more work and take in more culture than anyone else in the world except perhaps the staff of Pop Culture Happy Hour. An inspiration for us all!