STUDIO:  Paramount
MSRP: $19.99
RUNNING TIME: 240 Minutes
-    Public Speeches
-    Never-before-seen footage

The Pitch

We all know it was momentous and historical. But does it make for good viewing?

“Don’t check for my wallet as I leave, don’t check for my wallet as I leave, don’t check…”

The Humans

President Obama, First Lady Obama, The First Children Obama, Old 60 Minutes Guy, 1.2 seconds of BLAGOJEVICH.

Wherever Rod went, his Frankie Muniz look-a-like sex slave wasn’t far behind.

The Nutshell

Obama’s unprecedented run right into the Oval Office during the 2008 presidential campaign was a beautiful and energizing moment for a country that had been stuck in eight years of Bush-related torpor and desperately needed some sign that America could still live up to its lofty ideals. And regardless of where this leads to by the end of his first term, Obama’s 2008 election victory was a nice shot in the arm for the American ideal. This DVD tries to capture the lightning in the bottle that was Obama’s ascension from fledgling senator to president elect.

Wherever Oprah went, Jerry Mathers and his delightfully comforting clavicle weren’t far behind.

The Lowdown

Now that the furor has died down and people have begun to realize President Barack Obama is a human being and not simply a symbol of hope in the face of great hardships it would seem we’re back to business as usual in the US. Partially because the rhetoric about the collapsing economy has now become a reality that a large part of the country is dealing with has made hope more audacious than ever before for many people, and partially because our 24/7 news cycles are quickly closing in on the event horizon* it seems as if the fact that we elected a man of color to our highest office is ancient history. However his presidency shakes out (still too soon to say, although there’s been pros and cons) it has to be said that the path that took him there (if there’s a better descriptor than meteoric this side of Tea Leoni being swallowed by a tidal wave for his rise, I sure as hell can’t think of it) makes for a hell of a story. 

Gary tried to ignore for as long as he could, but there it was staring him in the face: four guys sitting around a table, five lovely ceramic tea cups.  WHAT WERE THEY HIDING?

And not just the personal story of Barack Obama, but the political story of how all of these events converged to make him the Democratic nominee when nobody would’ve bet on it months earlier. Even me, the person who optimistically created this  MSPaint edit when Bush won re-election in ’04 to cheer up my left-leaning friends didn’t see so quick a rise for the eloquent Illinois senator. So I was looking forward to a DVD that reflected on the events that led to our current President Elect and told the naturally fascinating story of his rise to prominence.

“Is it still behind me?  Oh god, don’t look, don’t look.  It’s been following me around for weeks.  Don’t even ask me how the fuck a giant storybook got on the subway.”

Unfortunately what this DVD offers mostly comes in the form of fluff. Entertaining fluff, but fluff nonetheless. If you want to see the President Elect hanging out with his family or giving a little background to his upbringing and political life in Chicago that led to his meteoric rise, than this will be wholly satisfying to you. However, the really interesting story of the election was the actual political gamesmanship that went on, allowing for Obama to make a historic rally to take the nomination from Hilary Clinton which then led to a contentious presidential race with John McCain.  It’s unfortunate that so little attention is paid to the actual campaign on this disc, as I feel the most interesting story that will be told about this election is how the Obama campaign broadsided most of the old politicos with its combination of energizing the base as well as capturing those on the fringes through it’s powerful usage of new media and unprecedented internet campaigning, combined with a rigorous campaign schedule that left no place untouched, even those long considered to be Republican strongholds. So while statistically there wasn’t much of an increase in the youth vote, the Democratic base was activated like fucking Voltron in the way they were shoveling money into the Obama campaign and taking to the street to stump for the man. 

“Oh, I see there’s two girls.  Oh nice, kissing.  Wait, what’s with the cup?  Now wait a minute, that’s just a little – Oh jesus christ, what the fuck?  Oh god, why on Earth – OH JESUS, WHAT IS THIS?  Oh god….you’ve got to send that to Rooney.”

However, this isn’t what you’re going to be treated to on this DVD package. This is strictly for people who want to know what Obama cooks for the kids, and need affirmation that it’s okay to leave the keys to the country with someone superficially different from them. You get little emotional tidbits here and there and a brief glimpse into his family life, but there isn’t a lot of substance to dig into here.  There will undoubtedly be better DVD’s about the historic ’08 election and the events that led to it to come out in the future (unless you’re the “impending Obamalypse” camp, in which case kindly drink the Kool Aid and hop on the nearest shooting star) so there’s no need to go out and get this one.

The United Nations under G.W. Bush operated slightly differently than in its previous iterations.

The Package

The cover art is fine, but nothing impressive. Knowing that 60 Minutes transitioned to HD cameras in the field in fall of last year, some of the transfers on here should really be of a higher quality than what we get. As for extras, the whole DVD is sort of a catch-all of tidbits so it’s hard to say what would exactly constitute an extra. For example, the real meat of the disc is contained in all of the speeches collected here ranging from the announcement of his candidacy to inauguration day. All of them put together are longer than the edited together 60 Minutes segments that otherwise would be considered the main event of the disc. You also get a little extra footage of the Obama family, some of it candid, some of it not, all of which didn’t make it into the TV edits of the Obama-centric pieces. This isn’t a must have by any means, as I’m sure there are countless other discs coming out with the political speeches that are the real treat on here with additional material from the campaign. But it is a cheap option available to you if you want to have an easily accessible piece of American history. If so, I also have a collection of delightful Obama ceramic plates that I’d like to interest you in.

“…Don’t check for my wallet as I leave…Don’t check for my wallet as I leave…Don’t check..”

5.0 out of 10

*A small theory: There will never be a president who is able to stand up to the constant media scrutiny and over-analysis of the 24/7 news cycle ever again. It’s just physically impossible, like pitching a season’s worth of perfect games.