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people actually watch this show?
March 11, 2014 4:39 AM   Subscribe

Between Two Ferns [previously] welcomes President Barack Obama.
posted by Potomac Avenue (131 comments total) 39 users marked this as a favorite

 
I mean, I'm exactly the target demo for this and I love it, so they got that part taken care of. But the majority of people will not like this and possibly hate it actively, I think.
posted by dogwalker at 4:49 AM on March 11 [1 favorite]


Nice surprise. Though after Obama did a reddit AMA, I shouldn't be surprised with him showing up just about anywhere. Too bad he can't act.
posted by zardoz at 4:49 AM on March 11


That's actually the first time I have watched a "Between Two Ferns" episode. It gave me very strong "Space Ghost Coast to Coast" flashbacks.
posted by AlonzoMosleyFBI at 4:50 AM on March 11 [8 favorites]


I'm Optamystic, and I approve of this episode.
posted by Optamystic at 4:51 AM on March 11


It was pretty good. Obama held his own. And hey, I did watch the whole thing and learned a bit.
posted by k8t at 4:51 AM on March 11


Obama may actually be too cool.
posted by BrotherCaine at 4:51 AM on March 11 [16 favorites]


Until it happened, I never knew how deeply I wanted this.
posted by Ducks or monkeys at 4:51 AM on March 11 [18 favorites]


That's... a pretty good get.
posted by painquale at 4:52 AM on March 11 [27 favorites]


Europe needs a president like this.
posted by ouke at 5:03 AM on March 11 [3 favorites]


Brilliant.
posted by Going To Maine at 5:04 AM on March 11


Is that actually Obama?
That's actually Obama.
posted by pracowity at 5:07 AM on March 11 [1 favorite]


Why would you want another president? Stop wasting your time with elections. Extend his term indefinitely.
posted by pracowity at 5:10 AM on March 11 [7 favorites]


That felt incredibly surreal.
posted by liquorice at 5:16 AM on March 11 [1 favorite]


ZG + buddy:

"You know who we should invite next to the show? Barack Obama"
"Haha! actually you know what we should send him an email or something and publish the form letter that the White House sends us back, it might be worth a chuckle"

*ZG sends joke email to the white house*

10 minutes later, BO + MO:

"Hey Michelle you know that show 'between two ferns'?"
"Yup, it's allright."
"Well these guys sent the white house an email jokingly asking me to come on the show"
"Haha! actually you know what you should say yes, it might be worth a chuckle"

*BO accepts invitation*

5 minutes later, ZG + buddy:

"uhm man you know that email I sent to the white house?"
posted by Riton at 5:22 AM on March 11 [31 favorites]


holy shit
posted by mullacc at 5:27 AM on March 11


Ha. Pretty good.
posted by turbid dahlia at 5:30 AM on March 11


Man, the overbite on that guy
posted by Reasonably Everything Happens at 5:30 AM on March 11


You're going to miss him so bad.
posted by fullerine at 5:35 AM on March 11 [14 favorites]


Actually, I'm more curious what the White House was saying.

"We gotta get young people talking about health care. What do young people like to watch?"
"They're really into this pretend talk show hosted by a 40-something fat actor who treats his guests like shit."
"Really?"
"Yeah."
"Really?"
"Yeah."
"Okay, book it."
posted by fungible at 5:38 AM on March 11 [33 favorites]


"We gotta get young people talking about health care. What do young people like to watch?"
"They're really into this pretend talk show hosted by a 40-something fat actor who treats his guests like shit."
"Really?"
"Yeah."
"Really?"
"Yeah."
"Okay, book it."


*cue West Wing intro*
posted by chrominance at 5:44 AM on March 11 [62 favorites]


Sock it to me?
posted by sonascope at 5:45 AM on March 11 [29 favorites]


Michelle would totally marry that nerd.
posted by angrycat at 5:52 AM on March 11 [2 favorites]


[Couple of comments deleted. Look, I'm not going to blame you for wanting to talk about Obama in a broader sense, what with this being a silly one-note comedy video and him being the president of the U.S. and all. But maybe word your appraisal of the leader of the free world with *slightly* more nuance than simply proclaiming his suckitude? Context-free up/down referendum on POTUS -> misunderstandings and utter mayhem is a well-documented blueprint for discussion here, just a tad more effort makes a brighter day for you and me and all of America. Thanks.]
posted by goodnewsfortheinsane at 5:54 AM on March 11 [31 favorites]


I'm guessing that the White House contacted BTF themselves as a way to plug healthcare.gov to that sweet sweet youth demo.
posted by Think_Long at 5:57 AM on March 11 [1 favorite]


GNFTI: what happened to your mod tag?
posted by leotrotsky at 5:58 AM on March 11


We're only allowed to comment upon his awesomeness?
posted by codswallop at 5:58 AM on March 11 [14 favorites]


I'm guessing that the White House contacted BTF themselves as a way to plug healthcare.gov to that sweet sweet youth demo.

Galifrinakis demo proven to be final slackers who sign up at the last minute.
posted by Ironmouth at 6:03 AM on March 11 [7 favorites]


[Staff tags are only in MeTa. Sorry to be a stickler for protocol, and absolutely comment as you like, but "Obama rules/sucks" on its own is maybe less than ideal is all I'm saying. Further metacommentary should really go to the contact form / MetaTalk.]
posted by goodnewsfortheinsane at 6:03 AM on March 11 [1 favorite]


It must be nice for the president to finally talk to someone who isn't insane.
posted by srboisvert at 6:04 AM on March 11 [20 favorites]


Wow. This is the first time I've seen Obama be legitimately good doing anything funny.

...though I suspect acting curt towards idiots must come naturally to any President with more than two days' experience.
posted by graphnerd at 6:06 AM on March 11 [4 favorites]


The reveal at the end is excellent. Well done.
posted by notme at 6:07 AM on March 11 [2 favorites]


Obama doesn't suck but omfg does he need better writers. Why won't Michelle share? Bet her crew has a talk show lined up for the day after they leave office.
posted by sammyo at 6:08 AM on March 11


I would pay one million dollars to see the first lady on BTF. She would take Zach to all kinds of schools.
posted by lrobertjones at 6:10 AM on March 11 [11 favorites]


here's an article that talks a bit more about how this came together.
posted by nadawi at 6:15 AM on March 11 [7 favorites]


I, too, would throw in some millions to see Michelle Obama on this show.
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 6:27 AM on March 11


"Community Organizer Barack Obama (sp?)"

I love Between Two Ferns. I thought this went really, really well and it was clear that Obama gets the humor.

I would have liked to see the first lady come in at the very end and...something.
posted by Room 641-A at 6:34 AM on March 11 [3 favorites]


Given that Scott Aukerman co-runs this show and he now has an in with Obama, I hope to see Obama on an upcoming Comedy Bang Bang. Preferably playing a character.
posted by painquale at 6:35 AM on March 11 [11 favorites]


When anti-capitalism is selling, the capitalists are happy to sell anti-capitalism (i.e. Hot Topic, the film Avatar, etc.). When iconoclastic messages are reaching people, we get this.

Yes, I did love this short, but I feel kind of weird about it, too. Like, maybe I'm not as fringe as I think I am.
posted by GrumpyDan at 6:36 AM on March 11 [3 favorites]


Nobody is as fringe as they think they are. Besides, The Daily Show is considered to be a major cultural institution and its share is about two million viewers. While making a one-off comparison between TV and web series isn't great, the fact that some episodes of Between Two Ferns have gotten 30 million views means that it's probably A Thing, and not a niche product.
posted by Going To Maine at 6:48 AM on March 11 [2 favorites]


1. Bad set
2. Actor, bad actor
3. President, bad actor
4. Uncomfortable script.
5. Profit ??????

I'm probably too old to find the humor in this....
posted by HuronBob at 6:49 AM on March 11


That was fab. Obama is a little square, like all presidents, but it's striking to see how natively he gets the humor of BTF---not just the treating the host badly, but also the awkward pauses, the sunken body language, the sullen exchanges. By way of comparison, imagine Mitt Romney, or Bernie Sanders, trying to do a show like this.
posted by ThatFuzzyBastard at 6:52 AM on March 11 [14 favorites]


galifianakis is a goddamned treasure and him being a "bad actor" is part of the whole schtick.
posted by nadawi at 7:00 AM on March 11 [37 favorites]


I'm so jealous that the US gets to have Obama as your Head Guy! I think he pulled that off really well. I can't imagine any of our leaders in the same position not making me want to poke my eyes out with a sharp stick.
posted by billiebee at 7:11 AM on March 11 [3 favorites]


I'm probably too old to find the humor in this....

Did you go back and watch any of the other episodes? That might help put it in context a little. Galifnaikis is passive-aggressively ill-prepared and maybe a little bitter at his more-sucessful guest, and the antagonized guest gets frustrated and angry. Now, that may not be your cup of tea, but what I thought made this so good is that they didn't dumb it down of soften it up for the president, and the president played along all the way.

(I did think they missed the mark with the Bush joke at the end. BTF clearly has Biden's fingerprints all over it.)
posted by Room 641-A at 7:18 AM on March 11 [7 favorites]


I kind of hoped that when Obama pressed the button, Zach would get tackled by a bunch of secret service.
posted by fatbird at 7:20 AM on March 11 [7 favorites]


I couldn't stop obsessing over whether they would push the button, to see if it would say "That was easy." That was totally a Staples button.
posted by Mchelly at 7:25 AM on March 11 [2 favorites]


I think this is a fake. It's implausible that a film set would go unnoticed in the Diplomatic Reception Room for so long.
posted by gilrain at 7:25 AM on March 11 [41 favorites]


When they got to the healthcare.gov part I was a little dejected. I mean, I know the president is too busy to do hilarious things for no reason, but I wanted him to.
posted by something something at 7:32 AM on March 11 [6 favorites]


I'm almost willing to forgive funny or die for the hoverboard hoax after this.


Almost.
posted by smackwich at 7:34 AM on March 11


Too bad he can't act.

Careful what you wish for.

Actually, some of the bits he pulled off well, some were a bit wooden, but the writing was brilliant, as was Galifianakis.
posted by Mental Wimp at 7:37 AM on March 11 [1 favorite]


I thought this was going to be awkward "dad trying to be funny with the hip kids" but it was actually hilarious.
posted by Ghostride The Whip at 7:39 AM on March 11 [2 favorites]


I'm not disappointed that the point was to plug healthcare.gov, but I am disappointed that the plug wasn't a little more solid. Isn't it his job to sell that thing? I get that he sort of did it in the tone of BTF, but it still seemed like he was doing an unpleasant chore.
posted by Xalf at 7:47 AM on March 11 [1 favorite]


I couldn't stop obsessing over whether they would push the button, to see if it would say "That was easy." That was totally a Staples button.

It is and they've done that joke before. Though I can't remember which episode.
posted by mullacc at 7:47 AM on March 11 [1 favorite]


I'm pretty sure that the loathing in Obama's eyes was actually acting. Sure he's wooden but you could also see that behind the loathing there was the hint of a laugh as well.

I don't think that Obama would use this as a medium for reaching audiences if he didn't actually kinda like the little troll.
posted by vuron at 7:50 AM on March 11 [1 favorite]


Anybody know what the theme song is? I love old easy listening trumpet music, and I just don't know enough of about the genre or where to find some great music like this...
posted by symbioid at 7:53 AM on March 11


This was actually pretty funny if a little forced sometimes. So basically like any other episode of Between Two Ferns.
posted by mroben at 7:53 AM on March 11 [3 favorites]


It's implausible that a film set would go unnoticed in the Diplomatic Reception Room for so long.

Not if you're pretty dependent on diplomacy by... other means. They couldn't hide that set in the drone room for very long.

"Honey, have you seen my golf hat?"
"Check the drone room."

posted by pracowity at 8:03 AM on March 11 [1 favorite]


I was like "No way are the President's people going to allow him to push the big red button during the Ukraine/Russia conflict." BUZZ
posted by infinitewindow at 8:04 AM on March 11 [2 favorites]


I think this is a fake. It's implausible that a film set would go unnoticed in the Diplomatic Reception Room for so long.

Yeah, and his "mouse pad broke" but he doesn't own a computer? *rolls eyes*
posted by hydrophonic at 8:05 AM on March 11 [7 favorites]


Anybody know what the theme song is? I love old easy listening trumpet music, and I just don't know enough of about the genre or where to find some great music like this...

It's probably included as a preset in the freeware version of a video production software program.
posted by ultraviolet catastrophe at 8:13 AM on March 11 [2 favorites]


"They're really into this pretend talk show hosted by a 40-something fat actor who treats his guests like shit."

People always say I look just like him. :(
posted by josher71 at 8:26 AM on March 11 [5 favorites]


That's ok, josher71 - I've gotten "Penn Jilette" a couple times (including from a mefite, once). :\
posted by symbioid at 8:30 AM on March 11 [3 favorites]


I loved Due Date Because I actually saw a character in Galifianakis' performance.

Everything else he does (IN PARTICULAR B2F) is pure schtick of the makes-me-want-to-strike-him-with-a-bamboo-cane variety. Didn't watch.

But then, I'm an old fart whose wife has a job w/ health insurance, so I'm not the target audience.
posted by Pirate-Bartender-Zombie-Monkey at 8:33 AM on March 11


Yeah, the woodenness and "bad acting" is an integral part of Two Ferns. Not to say that Obama will be the lead in Ocean's Fourteen in a few years, but he is *supposed* to seem off here, it's the idea of the show.
posted by Chrysostom at 8:34 AM on March 11 [1 favorite]


That reminds me, I should probably watch Live at the Purple Onion for the nth time.
posted by entropicamericana at 8:36 AM on March 11 [3 favorites]


I'm sortof embarassed that the President just participated in a funny internet thing before I had even heard of it.
posted by likeatoaster at 8:36 AM on March 11 [13 favorites]


Although i liked it a great deal, I had a hard time believing O watched all three Hangover movies. I expect better movie choices in their household.
posted by angrycat at 8:37 AM on March 11 [3 favorites]


Well, he lives with teenagers...

The movies my son subjected me to has put me off movies for almost a decade now.
posted by Pogo_Fuzzybutt at 8:39 AM on March 11 [2 favorites]


entropicamericana: "That reminds me, I should probably watch Live at the Purple Onion for the nth time."

"MY BEARD HUWTS..."
posted by symbioid at 8:44 AM on March 11 [3 favorites]


Now I want to see him show up in a Luther segment on Key & Peele.
posted by jason_steakums at 8:53 AM on March 11 [25 favorites]


From the times: “You can’t put a president on ‘Keeping Up With the Kardashians,’” she said, perhaps hopefully.

Yep the WH does not get social/celeb media, have Kim fire up a campaign that pushes fans through the system, say if a million new ADA subscribers then the K's get a whitehouse sleepover broadcast live on E.

Imagine the wackiness, the senate botox revelations, the ratings!
posted by sammyo at 8:56 AM on March 11


wow. the president is getting this.
posted by Ironmouth at 8:58 AM on March 11


"Today on Check It Out with Dr. Steve Brule we're gonna learn about politics, ya dungis. Now watch me politic with Mister Bobbies Jindals."
posted by robocop is bleeding at 9:00 AM on March 11 [7 favorites]


I really like the writing in that Times article.

Aides said Mr. Obama’s immediate reason for subjecting himself to Mr. Galifianakis is to urge young people to sign up for health insurance....
posted by IAmUnaware at 9:02 AM on March 11 [3 favorites]


For those who haven't seen it: this is Australia's then Prime Minister Kevin Rudd on a comedy news show "Good News Week":
posted by Jerub at 9:38 AM on March 11


I am disappointed that the plug wasn't a little more solid. Isn't it his job to sell that thing?

The theory in marketing to younger people these days is that they automatically discount the hard sell as BS--which is why you get so much oblique, viral advertising for stuff aimed at the younger end of the demo.
posted by yoink at 9:44 AM on March 11 [2 favorites]


Symbioid: Anybody know what the theme song is? I love old easy listening trumpet music, and I just don't know enough of about the genre or where to find some great music like this...

Presumably you're already turned on to Herb Alpert's complete back catalog?
posted by Joey Buttafoucault at 9:49 AM on March 11 [3 favorites]


This is like when Nixon did "Laugh In."
posted by steinsaltz at 9:52 AM on March 11


This is like when Nixon did "Laugh In."

Yes. Just like that.
posted by Mental Wimp at 9:55 AM on March 11


Heh, Joey... Well - not the entire catalog, but some :)
posted by symbioid at 10:03 AM on March 11 [1 favorite]


I thought this was going to be awkward "dad trying to be funny with the hip kids" but it was actually hilarious.

I think part of Obama's charm -- and I mean this as when he is playing the role of president for pop culture moments like this -- is that he IS an awkward dad trying to be funny with the hip kids but steers into the skid to own that position completely. By not fighting against his, frankly, dorkiness he makes that dorkiness seem far cooler than it should.

I can also see why this type of things drives people who don't like him (and some who do like him) crazy, because there's really no way to fight against it.
posted by MCMikeNamara at 10:13 AM on March 11 [16 favorites]


I'm guessing that the White House contacted BTF themselves as a way to plug healthcare.gov to that sweet sweet youth demo.

Galifrinakis demo proven to be final slackers who sign up at the last minute.

I'm not disappointed that the point was to plug healthcare.gov, but I am disappointed that the plug wasn't a little more solid. Isn't it his job to sell that thing? I get that he sort of did it in the tone of BTF, but it still seemed like he was doing an unpleasant chore.


FWIW, the senior WH communications advisor for health care tweeted that FOD is the #1 source of referrals to HealthCare.gov today, so something's working.
posted by zombieflanders at 10:16 AM on March 11 [5 favorites]


FWIW, the senior WH communications advisor for health care tweeted that FOD is the #1 source of referrals to HealthCare.gov today, so something's working.

That "or die" part of their name seems a lot more literally a propos than it normally does.
posted by yoink at 10:19 AM on March 11 [3 favorites]


HEALTHCARE OR DIE, KIDS
posted by drlith at 10:19 AM on March 11 [9 favorites]


Also hilarious: the wingnuts losing their shit over this interview. And apparently some dumbass actually asked Jay Carney--in all seriousness--if "the presidency [was] in any way damaged or did it lose dignity because of this?" Your modern WH press corps, everyone!
posted by zombieflanders at 10:22 AM on March 11 [5 favorites]


Also hilarious: the wingnuts losing their shit over this interview.

If they were "losing" their shit it would be funny, but when their shit has been permanently lost for the past six years it's just wearying.
posted by yoink at 10:31 AM on March 11 [9 favorites]


Rumor has it Obama's going to guest-star on the season finale of "Girls" as Hannah's weird uncle Bart.
posted by oulipian at 10:34 AM on March 11 [3 favorites]


Bill O'Reilly doesn't know how the moon works. Was the office of the President damaged when Obama talked to him?

Seems to be working. Funny or Die is the #1 referrer to healthcare.gov right now
posted by fifteen schnitzengruben is my limit at 10:40 AM on March 11 [4 favorites]


That Happening Now screengrab from the Media Matters piece is the definition of smug, entitled, upper-class white people (who presumably have never wanted for health insurance).
posted by mroben at 10:50 AM on March 11


Seems to be working. Funny or Die is the #1 referrer to healthcare.gov right now

Again: brilliant.
posted by Going To Maine at 11:14 AM on March 11


I really hope someone will write an article on how internet comedy series are the 2014 version of radio fireside chats because, all kidding aside, you could probably really clearly make that argument.

As for the theme music:

The series' theme music is Dave Blume's arrangement of Bernard Herrmann's Theme from Taxi Driver, which is on the original Taxi Driver soundtrack album but was not included in the film.


(I have no idea if this is what was played for this particular episode as I'm just barely familiar with it. As likeatoaster said above, mostly this whole event has just made me realize how I'm increasingly a demographic that isn't being courted, even by politicians.)
posted by MCMikeNamara at 11:27 AM on March 11 [4 favorites]


Anybody know what the theme song is?

symbioid, you talking to me?
posted by Room 641-A at 11:34 AM on March 11 [2 favorites]


dammit.
posted by Room 641-A at 11:39 AM on March 11 [4 favorites]


(The worst thing about me getting it in first is that I only knew the answer because I went to Wikipedia because I wasn't sure how to classify Between Two Ferns - web series, internet skit show - and decided to use whatever term the Wiki did, and then found the answer there as well. I am the worst.)
posted by MCMikeNamara at 11:47 AM on March 11


I thought that Obama did much better than I expected him to, he didn't break character. The only complaint I might have is that his punches always landed and Galifianakis's mostly didn't.
posted by Ivan Fyodorovich at 11:57 AM on March 11


The only complaint I might have is that his punches always landed and Galifianakis's mostly didn't.

That's reasonably common for Two Ferns, isn't it? Galifianakis usually plays a clown, not a jester.
posted by fatbird at 12:05 PM on March 11 [2 favorites]


Watched it.

Obama: funny

People actually going to Healthcare.gov: awesome

Galifianakis: I just don't go in for annoying-is-funny
posted by Pirate-Bartender-Zombie-Monkey at 12:13 PM on March 11 [1 favorite]


mostly this whole event has just made me realize how I'm increasingly a demographic that isn't being courted, even by politicians.

Oh, no, now you'll be courted for campaign donations, and to actually vote. Just not to, you know, watch YouTube shows or buy clothes from Forever 21. #inthatdemographic #robocalled
posted by PandaMomentum at 12:27 PM on March 11


"That's reasonably common for Two Ferns, isn't it? Galifianakis usually plays a clown, not a jester."

Yeah. It's been a while since I watched all of the available episodes, but IIRC there were plenty of times when Galifianakis says legitimately insulting things that the guests really don't know quite how to respond to. He's rude to Obama, but I think within the context of the show he's actually being "respectful" in the way that people speculated he might be. Those media observers don't see it, because by normal standards Galifianakis is far more rude to the President than we usually see anywhere. But by the show's standards, Galifianakis pulls his punches.

You're right that he's not funny, and not a jester — his insults are just rude or hurtful and that's the point. They don't have any redeeming value, they just make everyone uncomfortable. The ones that are funny are the ones that are buffoonish and misaimed, that's where we get some relief from the tension that accumulates from the "he's just behaving very badly" stuff.

The closest he comes is the the nerd thing and that's actually sort of weird in this day and age and Obama reveals his age (which is mine) in that he takes it as an insult when, in the real today's universe of this show (though not the character that Galifianakis is playing on the show), being called a nerd isn't really an insult. So Obama's offense at it is interesting because I'm pretty sure that no small part of the audience took a bit of offense when Obama asked skeptically if Galifianakis thinks that Michelle would ever have married a nerd.

All of that truly did tread on uncomfortable territory that deals with truths that people don't like talking about, even when it's ostensibly ironic as part of a fake interview show, which is often the kinds of things that Galifianakis says to his guests. His nerd accusation goes right to a friction in Obama's character, between the studious and community-minded striver who goes to Harvard Law and the pothead surfer, trash-talking pick-up basketball player. I think the former is more "authentic", whatever that might mean, than the latter. I'm that way, I have a whole lot of things in my history that are 180 degrees in the opposite direction to my bookish, nerdy core character and although I think all that stuff is "authentic", it's also somewhat cultivated. Or it was, once upon a time. And to people of my generation, about fifty, "nerd" is still an insult and I have no doubt that a significant part of Obama's self-image is invested in his skill on the basketball court. So Galifianakis is really attacking something that's real in that comment, he's poking something that very well could be a sensitive area.

He does that a lot, but that's pretty much the exception in this specific episode.

I can't really complain, though, because the man is President, after all, and while I don't much care about the "dignity of the office", I am aware that there are real limits in this stuff, what people would stand for. I'd like to see a world in which Galifianakis truly succeeds in making Obama uncomfortable, as he sometimes manages with his guests, but we don't live in that world, I think.
posted by Ivan Fyodorovich at 12:35 PM on March 11 [8 favorites]


I'd like to see a world in which Galifianakis truly succeeds in making Obama uncomfortable, as he sometimes manages with his guests, but we don't live in that world, I think.

There's always Colbert v. Bush.
posted by Beardman at 12:40 PM on March 11 [4 favorites]


Yeah. It's been a while since I watched all of the available episodes, but IIRC there were plenty of times when Galifianakis says legitimately insulting things that the guests really don't know quite how to respond to.

Not likely, as the show is scripted and all the content would have been vetted by the actors and PR people before anybody set foot in front of a camera, and even more so for this piece.

I do think at a certain point they realized that the richest vein of humor was in making Zach the brunt of most of the insults rather than the other way around.

Of course just when I was slightly impressed that the right wing media wasn't just reading the show as a completely straight interview, they still didn't quite get it:

"the president shows he doesn't at all understand the point of the show--the guest is not supposed to get in good zingers; he's supposed to be taken down a peg" [The Washington Free Beacon, 3/11/14]
posted by anazgnos at 12:50 PM on March 11 [4 favorites]


"Seriously?"
posted by absalom at 1:00 PM on March 11


Ben Beaumont-Thomas of the tv and radio blog at theguardian.com wonders if this latest courting of a niche demographic might backfire:

Between Two Ferns is a funny, buzzy way to promote his healthcare reforms, but arguably he's just preaching to the hipster choir – finally, he needs to start targeting the silent majority.

There's a gallery of other Obama media moments at the link. Missing is The Colbert Report. If Obama remembers what happened to Bush at the 2006 Correspondent's Dinner, I doubt he'll make that appearance anytime soon.

Just last week NPR reported on the missteps of the administration's outreach to Latinos, who constitute a majority (60%) of the uninsured in CA and tend to be suspicious of the government and insurance itself.

One of those missteps: "Simply translating ads developed in English into Spanish."

It sounds like the success of the program in the most populous state depends on persuading healthy young Latinos to sign up for insurance to pay for the care of older citizens. I hope he gives them some time too. I doubt many of them will watch the Latino tv event he plans to appear on. It's a demographic I don't know much about, and it doesn't appear Obama's team does either.
posted by vincele at 2:57 PM on March 11 [1 favorite]


"Between Two Ferns is a funny, buzzy way to promote his healthcare reforms, but arguably he's just preaching to the hipster choir – finally, he needs to start targeting the silent majority."

What "silent majority"? I can only guess what he means, as he doesn't explain himself in the article, but if he is referring to the ACA, it's only a minority who are opposed to it as being too much (as opposed to it being not enough), about 40%. That's a minority, not a majority. And they're certainly not "silent", as about 3/4 of that 40% are the Tea Party folk who are extremely outspoken against the ACA and will not support it under any circumstances.

Obama wasn't attempting to charm his critics in this appearance, he was attempting to specifically reach the younger adults who need to know about the ACA and the exchanges. Apparently, this was successful.
posted by Ivan Fyodorovich at 3:19 PM on March 11 [5 favorites]


There's a gallery of other Obama media moments at the link. Missing is The Colbert Report. If Obama remembers what happened to Bush at the 2006 Correspondent's Dinner, I doubt he'll make that appearance anytime soon.

Colbert has interviewed both Obamas before (Barack in 2009 and Michelle in 2012), and they tend to get on fabulously, as do Colbert and the Bidens. Plus, IIRC Colbert has been invited to all of Obama's Correspondent's Dinners, including the most recent one, which he seemed quite happy about attending. Somehow I doubt that there's anything keeping Barack from going on the show if invited.

Just last week NPR reported on the missteps of the administration's outreach to Latinos, who constitute a majority (60%) of the uninsured in CA

Apparently you didn't read the article, which is all about the state of California's outreach, not the administration's. That doesn't mean that there aren't issues, but it's a bit more complicated than LOLSPANGLISH.

[Latinos] tend to be suspicious of the government and insurance itself[...]It's a demographic I don't know much about

Yes, that's pretty clear, since your claim to know that they distrust government isn't true (in fact they're one of the demographics most in favor of more government), and neither are they particularly critical of the ACA (another case where they rate it higher than the American public at large).

and it doesn't appear Obama's team does either

And yet they managed to win two of the highest margins among Latino voters ever. Odd, that. That's not to say they haven't made missteps in outreach, but compared to a mass of angry, largely white people who want to deny them even the chance to get health care (to say nothing of "self-deportation" and machine gun emplacements on the border with Mexico), that doesn't seem to be a big deal for them.
posted by zombieflanders at 3:43 PM on March 11 [16 favorites]


I assumed that pressing the button would launch the drone strike they mentioned on NSA on TV.
posted by homunculus at 4:22 PM on March 11 [1 favorite]


I am constantly conflicted about Obama. I am deeply disappointed in what he's actually become as American president and the things he has and hasn't done, and the stark contrast to the marketing campaign he ran as candidate. I am also aware of how much much worse it could be.

In terms of this kind of thing, though, it bothers me even given all that how incredibly charismatic and trustworthy I find him just watching him and listening to him talk, particularly when I recall how deeply I distrusted George Bush precisely because so many people saw him as charismatic and trustworthy and he made my skin crawl.

I just don't know.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 4:42 PM on March 11 [9 favorites]


Obama, Zach Galifianakis, and the Presidential Dignity Fetish
posted by homunculus at 5:32 PM on March 11 [1 favorite]


Apparently you didn't read the article, which is all about the state of California's outreach, not the administration's.

As you can see from reading the articles I read and linked to, the articles conflate state and federal efforts, and the federal government funds California’s community outreach programs.

The Obama administration is reaching out to Latinos nationwide, including through a Spanish-language site, cuidadodesalud.gov. Federal officials also have allocated $150 million for community clinics serving urban and rural areas to help enroll uninsured patients. More than 60% of the roughly 3 million patients using such centers in California are Latino.


Yes, that's pretty clear, since your claim to know that they distrust government isn't true

This point was made at the npr link. I found it interesting when I listened to it last week. So I linked to it to support my point that Obama is not making outreach efforts where they are needed. Here it is from the linked article above:

Officials expect outreach workers to encounter resistance over the cost of insurance, which could be hundreds of dollars a month for some families, as well as a general distrust of government. Complicating the education and enrollment efforts will be families in which children are eligible but parents are not because of their immigration status.

"You get all these immigration statuses in one family," said David Hayes-Bautista, who heads UCLA's Center for the Study of Latino Health and Culture. "It's a very confusing picture.... They are going to be reluctant to enroll."

That doesn't mean that there aren't issues

Well, yes. That’s why I linked to two articles describing the issues.

(in fact they're one of the demographics most in favor of more government), and neither are they particularly critical of the ACA (another case where they rate it higher than the American public at large).

At a glance it looks like the Pew survey methodologies capture the sentiments of a very different group of people from those who community outreach workers… reach out to.

Perhaps the issue is we have different ideas about who the articles are talking about. I’m thinking about people like my brother in law’s family. They are recently naturalized Mexican workers. Or, I read this and think about the people I see doing yard work in Texas. Like I said I’m not an expert but I do not think these are the people who answer when pollers call.

Colbert has interviewed both Obamas before (Barack in 2009 and Michelle in 2012), and they tend to get on fabulously

I apologize for mischaracterizing their relationship and overestimating Colbert’s political courage.

LOLSPANGLISH

I assume that this isn't directed at me, but at Roberto Orci, CEO of the Hispanic market-oriented ad agency, who analyzed the problems with the ad campaign in the npr article I shared above.
posted by vincele at 6:26 PM on March 11


As you can see from reading the articles I read and linked to, the articles conflate state and federal efforts, and the federal government funds California’s community outreach programs.

The NPR article doesn't even mention the federal government, for one, and the LA Times article clearly delineates the efforts of the two. In any case, the federal government funds a lot of state efforts, as well as private ventures. That's how the grants system works in the US. It doesn't mean the federal government is responsible for what those programs do.

This point was made at the npr link. I found it interesting when I listened to it last week. So I linked to it to support my point that Obama is not making outreach efforts where they are needed.

Actually, it was from the second page of the LA Times article, where it wasn't clear it applied to either the federal government or health care (the context make it seem like it's distrust of California's government), or even to Latinos vs the population at large. It certainly didn't say that the Obama administration wasn't making outreach efforts. It didn't really support your point, and a bit of research would have told you that.

At a glance it looks like the Pew survey methodologies capture the sentiments of a very different group of people from those who community outreach workers… reach out to.

Maybe, but we don't really have anything that says what you claim. One of the articles never makes that point, the other doesn't seem to, and both articles pointed out a number of different factors, including the relative health of Latinos and their views on insurance, not the government. Meanwhile, the Pew studies included a wide range of demographics, including ages and incomes, and stated their methodologies clearly.

Perhaps the issue is we have different ideas about who the articles are talking about. I’m thinking about people like my brother in law’s family. They are recently naturalized Mexican workers. Or, I read this and think about the people I see doing yard work in Texas. Like I said I’m not an expert but I do not think these are the people who answer when pollers call.

You're welcome to believe that, but (a) anecdotes are not the plural of data, and (b) the Pew studies do discuss their methodologies. I'm unaware of any analysis that Pew (or many other polling groups) has done on this that turned out wildly different than voting patterns.
posted by zombieflanders at 7:07 PM on March 11


[Maybe we can leave aside the nuts and bolts of the how-appropriate-has-his-outreach-to-Latinos-been question?]
posted by LobsterMitten at 9:25 PM on March 11 [1 favorite]


Sorry, but this is nothing. Sober me up when Obama shows up on an episode of Drunk History.
posted by Apocryphon at 10:39 PM on March 11 [2 favorites]


No, on My Drunk Kitchen!
posted by obiwanwasabi at 12:41 AM on March 12


O'Reilly Slams Obama's 'Ferns' Spot: Lincoln Wouldn't Do Comedy!
O'Reilly said he didn't have a problem "overall" with the parody interview, so it's safe to say he doesn't think "the dignity of the office" was too badly damaged. But the timing was botched, he said, given the economic climate and the situation in Ukraine. He did throw the President a bone and pointed out that Russia hadn't yet invaded Crimea when he taped the interview.

"All I can tell you is Abe Lincoln wouldn't have done it," he said. "There comes a point when serious times come for serious action."

O'Reilly should know. His book on the Lincoln assassination spent over a year on the New York Times best-seller list, despite the fact that the National Park Service refused to sell it at Ford's Theatre due to factual errors and lack of documentation.
Obviously he's not a believer in Abraham Lincoln: Filthy Joker.
posted by zombieflanders at 6:19 AM on March 12 [1 favorite]


Well, thank god O'Reilly weighed in on this so we can all know how to feel about it.
posted by getawaysticks at 6:50 AM on March 12 [1 favorite]


Ah yes, Bill O'Reilly, famously the go-to guy for commenting on the intersection of politics and dignity.
posted by jason_steakums at 7:13 AM on March 12 [2 favorites]


"All I can tell you is Abe Lincoln wouldn't have done it," he said. "There comes a point when serious times come for serious action."

Lincoln didn't have time. Between vampire hunting and presidenting, he was pretty booked.
posted by nooneyouknow at 7:15 AM on March 12 [1 favorite]


I saw this last night, and it was very funny. Someone remarked somewhere that Obama, by all accounts, has a pretty cutting sense of humor, so in a way BTF is a perfect fit for him.

Also worth reading: Scott Aukerman of ‘Between Two Ferns’ on How They Got President Obama to Play Along
posted by Cash4Lead at 7:20 AM on March 12 [4 favorites]


This came off better than I expected, being familiar with BTF (though I'm definitely not in their demo, I'm sure). If it makes young people aware that they do indeed need health insurance and shows them where they can go to get it, that's fine by me. I'm grateful that when I was young, I had health insurance covering me when I learned that I was not invincible.

As for Bill O'Reilly, really? And when Nixon went on Laugh-In back in 1969, I suppose that was just a cheeky bit of fun, then? Of course not, he was trying to appeal to young people. I swear, this "getting worked up for ratings" schtick is becoming utterly tiresome. Bill O'Reilly is just an actor, and a really bad actor, in all senses of the term.
posted by droplet at 7:56 AM on March 12


When I think of human dignity, I always think of Bill O'Reilly, who encapsulates it in two words: Mackris. Loofah.
posted by fifteen schnitzengruben is my limit at 10:53 AM on March 12 [2 favorites]


The worst thing about me getting it in first is that I only knew the answer because I went to Wikipedia because I wasn't sure how to classify Between Two Ferns - web series, internet skit show - and decided to use whatever term the Wiki did, and then found the answer there as well. I am the worst.

I Shazam'd it!
posted by Room 641-A at 11:31 AM on March 12 [1 favorite]


The Obama team has their finger on the pulse of millenials in a very frightening way. They know Reagan is unpopular and the old strategy of painting leftist opposition as unpatriotic is too vulnerable to irony. So what better way to neuter the anti-imperialist left than painting them as buzzkills? Not to mention the lucrative right-wing outrage machine producing daily inanities to refute.

Drone strikes, antidemocratic coups, torture chambers - these may as well be TV cliches under America's coolest president. Asking how many children LBJ killed today offended traditional American values; asking the same of Obama is simply gauche.
posted by gorbweaver at 8:13 PM on March 12 [1 favorite]


If it was possible to harangue LBJ about Vietnam while at the same time praising him for the Great Society, surely we can do the same now.
posted by Going To Maine at 8:24 PM on March 12 [5 favorites]


Sam Kriss: First as funny, then as die
posted by RogerB at 8:53 PM on March 12


Martin Mull on ‘Fernwood 2Night,’ the original ‘Anchorman’ and ‘Between Two Ferns’
posted by homunculus at 12:27 PM on March 13


Yes, Lincoln Would Have Done ‘Between Two Ferns’
posted by homunculus at 12:39 PM on March 13 [1 favorite]


Yes, Lincoln Would Have Done ‘Between Two Ferns’

But can we make Bill-O sit down and actually read that history? I doubt it. Bill is never wrong.
posted by Mental Wimp at 2:31 PM on March 13


"Is this what they mean by drones?"

Galifianakis missed a great opportunity to ask Obama about the classic drone he's restoring in his garage.
posted by homunculus at 2:32 PM on March 13


And it worked.
posted by Obscure Reference at 5:01 PM on March 13


O'Reilly Slams Obama's 'Ferns' Spot: Lincoln Wouldn't Do Comedy!

OReilly should remember where he came from---tabloid TV show. A real journalist wouldn't come from a tabloid TV show.

God I hate him. Why does his opinion even matter?
posted by stormpooper at 7:28 AM on March 14


"God I hate him. Why does his opinion even matter?"

If you're asking sincerely, it's because he's seen as, well, sort of the way that McCain was seen. He will occasionally go off the conservative reservation (barely), and that is understood as validating his credentials as being serious, and not a hack. In combination with his everyman persona, he therefore is very appealing to a demographic that aligns with Fox News but is not entirely comfortable with the idea of conformance, and is very appealing to the Beltway media crowd for the same reasons, but for different purposes.

Frankly, I viscerally dislike him but, after some careful deliberation, I realize that he's no more an ignorant hack (which I especially hold against him) than a large number of his peers; it's just that his everyman persona plays into my own biases about ignorant hacks and many of his peers generally try to accommodate those kinds of biases and present their similar levels of ignorance and hackitude under a veneer of erudition and thoughtfulness. Probably, we should be more concerned with the scope of his influence than anything else and, indeed, it's fairly large but could fade away relatively quickly. And then someone else would take his place.
posted by Ivan Fyodorovich at 9:51 AM on March 14 [1 favorite]


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