Once again, well-known Youtubers were allowed to ask the US president their questions. Obama remained calm, as always, and in the end it got almost corny.
Better Han Solo than Yoda: Obama plays the rebel. Screenshot: youtube.com/user/whitehouse
"Which character from Star Wars would you like to be?" – "I guess I’d have to say Han Solo. He’s a rebel." Swoozie aka Adande Thorne gets wide-eyed and turns to the camera. Surprised? It was kind of obvious that President Obama wouldn’t choose Yoda, wasn’t it? It wasn’t until the end of his Q&A session that the Youtuber dared to draw the president out with questions like these.
For the second time, three Youtube stars were allowed to interview the US president directly. The entire appearance is related to the speech to the nation, which Obama gave for the last time last Tuesday before Congress. Anyone who wanted to could post questions tagged with the #YoutubeAsksObama hashtag on social networks in advance. So the Youtubers not only took their own questions to the White House, but also those of their fans.
Swoozie mainly talks about his own everyday life on his channel and illustrates his videos with sequences he animates himself. This is thoroughly entertaining. But on this day, he’s also shed his silliness with his visored cap. He is hardly recognizable. No cool sayings, no slang. Surprisingly serious and well-informed, he asks the president about minimum wage and counterterrorism.
Obama’s opinion of Donald Trump? General, of course. But he makes one thing clear: The hot air surrounding the controversial presidential candidate will quickly evaporate. Voters will no longer be guided by gobbledygook when it comes to making decisions, but by facts.
Something that was already on the table last year is the issue of private gun control. Obama is certain that the U.S. can learn to handle guns conscientiously. But that takes time. Obama is taking that time, at least in answering the questions. Swoozie is doing really well, poking at it, not letting up. But time is running out and the 27-year-old is already pushing his backdrop out of the picture.
Obama’s favorite word
Enter Destin Sandlin. He’s been on YouTube since 2006. His channel "smartereveryday" is a kind of "Sendung mit der Maus" for adults. The rocket engineer is interested in how President Obama gets a little smarter every day. Sweeping answer: listen to people who know more than he does. Because only together can a great nation like the USA remain great.
Yes, cohesion. Obama’s favorite word on this evening. Only together can great projects be realized. As in his State of the Union address, he appealed to Congress, the media and the American people not to split into two camps, but to work together. Everyone must contribute, he said.
Another change of scenery. Ingrid Nilsen is followed by some 3.9 million users on YouTube. She shares makeup and fashion tips there. She wants to know from the president whether the fear of terrorism could become the norm in everyday life in the future and how he plans to advance cancer cures. She also wonders about an Alabama judge’s decision not to recognize same-sex marriage. Obama assures her, however, that no state can overrule the Supreme Court. Everyone is allowed to marry the one he loves. That remains the case.
Then the fluffy conversation comes to a halt, because Nilsen points out something to the president that he himself admits he didn’t know before: namely, that tampons and sanitary towels are taxed as luxury goods in some U.S. states. Why is that? "Probably because men made these laws," says Obama, and he really means it.
The fact that women are disadvantaged in the healthcare system should not be allowed, he says, and takes the opportunity to once again (as he did last year) promote Obamacare. Because in the 2015 Youtuber interview, he also made the argument that insurance for young people doesn’t cost much more than their phone bill each month. Well then.
A heartwarming conclusion
The scheduled air time is coming to an end and Nilsen is trying once again to scratch the facade of the press-trained Obama. Beforehand, she had asked the president to bring a few small objects that represent him personally. But what Barack Obama then pulls out of his bag seems just too kitschy to be true: a rosary from Pope Francis, a small Buddha figurine of a Buddhist monk, a poker chip from a biker from Iowa, a Hindu figurine of the monkey god Hanuman and, last but not least, a Coptic cross from Ethiopia. Why? Ever since he ran for president, strangers kept giving him little things.
He had a whole bowl of them, and every day he would reach in and take out a few, which he would then carry around in his pocket all day. In this way, he always remembers the many people who accompanied him on his way. A heartwarming conclusion – for the evening and also for Obama’s last interview of this kind. After all, he will only be in power for another eleven months.