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Five Quick Thoughts About The Stills From The Barack And Michelle Date Movie

Yesterday, two stills were released from Southside With You, the movie depicting the President and the First Lady’s first date. I have some thoughts about this.

1. A friend and I used to joke about each other being a “big deal.” Sometimes it would happen in conversation (“Waitress at Pamela’s got me extra crispy bacon today. Because I’m a big deal.“). Sometimes it would be a text from her (“A man gave up his seat on the bus for me today. #bigdeal“). It was both self-deprecating and self-important; a way of assuaging our egos while also acknowledging that the big deals we’d cite weren’t really big deals at all.

That said, I do like to think of myself as a big deal. As I repeated to myself in the mirror this morning, I’m the shit and shit.

But then, I saw the stills from a major motion picture. A biopic with millions of dollars invested and dozens of jobs created that thousands (and maybe millions) of people will pay to see. That’s being made about two very important people. But not a full biopic about their entire lives. Or even a Selma-esque look at a very important series of events that happened in a very short period of time. But a movie about a…date. And then I thought about how big of a deal you have to be for a mundane first date with your future spouse to be historically relevant enough to produce an entire movie about it. And then I thought about how comparing that (uppercase) BIG DEAL to my (lowercase) big deal is like comparing a tsunami to a puddle of tears. From a gnat. A puddle of gnat tears. And then I made my own puddle of tears.

2. Do the Right Thing — the movie Barack and Michelle saw on this date — is either one of the best or one of the worst first date movies of all time. I can’t figure out which. It could be one of the best because, well, if you’re a pro-Black person intent on marrying a pro-Black person, taking a date to see that movie that summer would have been the single best vet possible. I can’t imagine anything weeding out pro-Black poseurs better than their reaction to your post-movie vent about Radio Raheem.

But, it could be one of the worst because I can’t imagine transitioning from “Fight the Power!” and “Fuck the Police!” to “So…you wanna come back to my place tonight and Fight the Power…between the sheets?

3. Tika Sumpter looks like someone decided to sculpt a human out of a six foot block of Willy Wonka chocolate. She is a real-life performance art installation; people should pay money to enter galleries to drink wine and Stella Artois and view pictures of Tika Sumpter doing things like “sitting at brunch” and “standing on her porch while deciding whether to order an Uber or just walk because it’s nice out today.”

4. It’s interesting how each of the stills feature Michelle gazing at Barack while Barack looks off to the distance. This gives the impression that she’s completely transfixed by him, and that whatever he’s saying is so profound — and so swoon-worthy — that he can’t even make eye contact with an actual human while saying it.

obama date 2

Her look, btw, is also the look every guy reading this (myself included) hopes his date/girl/wife has when attempting to convince her he could have been a rapper.

5. Jay Pharoah probably does the best Obama impression, but my favorite is Jordan Peele’s. Neither of these men, however, look anything like him. Parker Sawyers does. At least he does in these stills. And this aesthetic similarity should him help disappear into this role. And should also help us forget that his name sounds like a blue blood brunch spot in Annapolis, Maryland.

Damon Young

Damon Young is the editor-in-chief of VSB. He is also a columnist for And he's working on a book of essays to be published by Ecco (HarperCollins). Damon is busy. He lives in Pittsburgh, and he really likes pancakes. Reach him at Or don't. Whatever.

  • CamCamtheGreat

    My first and only thought after seeing the stills: Is this really a movie that needs (or even deserves) to be made? Also, they couldn’t find an actual mixed-race man to play a mixed-race man?

    • Soula Powa

      Mine was, “There’s gotta be more to this movie than the first date. There just has to.” Otherwise, what’s the point? It’ll sound like a VH-1 storyline if they load up the first-date dialogue with the BIG ideas they have had and shared over years.

      Maybe Barack and Michelle as characters are “Too Big To Fail” I doubt it though.

      • laddibugg

        IDK, I can see Barack (not sure about Michelle) trying to subtly ‘show out’ on the first date.

    • Strictly speaking, no movie *needs* to be made. It’s only entertainment after all. But surely this movie is at least as worthy of being created as Ted 2, no?

      Hollywood has yet to cast anyone remotely middle-eastern or even Jewish looking to play Jesus, Moses, Noah, etc. White people have been cast in POC roles for decades (centuries if you count the pre-Hollywood, theater production days). I hardly think that a Black man portraying a half-black man who publicly identifies as Black is an issue. I honestly don’t see the problem here.

      • Cleojonz

        My objection has nothing to do with the subject matter being a person of color. That’s always a good thing. I think there’s more they could tell about Barack Obama’s life though than a love story.

        • See, I kinda like that they are. I mean, I’m a bit biopic’d out, but at the same time, I think it’s cool that the production is taking this tack as opposed to something more “monumental,” for lack of a better term (like his DNC speech or his college years or growing out overseas or what have you).

          I’ve heard this movie described as being in the vein of the Before… movies with Ethan Hawke and Julie Delpy. I tend to like talky movies (and have seen all three Before… movies more than once), so maybe that’s why I’m not so skeptical about this Barack and Michelle date movie.

          • kid video

            +1 for the “Before” series…

            Delpy is sexy without trying to be.


            • I like the Before… series inspite of my annoyance with Ethan Hawke.

          • Tristan

            Thats exactly what i was thinking of, but i guess knowing Barack as being famously slow delivering it would be odd to see a young Barry will all the #bars

          • laddibugg

            AH! I loved those ‘Before’ movies. If it’s like that, cool

        • Question

          Why are they telling the story now? This man is just getting started (ok, not exactly…but you know what I mean). Why now?

        • True, but Pres. Obama is still in his prime, relatively speaking. Folks don’t generally get substantive biopics until their twilight years or death. And I doubt the Obama’s would sign the release for one, so you’d end up with a terrible unauthorized, Aaliyah Lifetime movie version that nobody wants.

          Also, I’m here for a frivolous Black romance movie. I’m good on the struggle films.

          • Siante

            “Also, I’m here for a frivolous Black romance movie. I’m good on the struggle films.”

            Yup, alot of black folk complain:
            “why we always gotta be slaves? Why can’t we be portrayed as we are in everyday life”
            & now we got a simple black love story we can celebrate ^_^

  • cakes_and_pies

    This is going into theatres?
    I thought this was a Lifetime/BET/Centric/BounceTV/OWN/TVOne television movie.

    • Cleojonz

      Please tell me it is. I can’t really see people spending money on this. Barack or not.

      • cakes_and_pies

        I think it’s a theatrical release. The studio that’s producing this produced Hustle & Flow. Black Snake Moan, and Dear White People. This doesn’t have any big screed appeal to me.

        • Tristan

          It has an indie feel

    • It should be a made for TV movie…way too early for this.

    • panamajackson

      It’s definitely gonna be a made for TV joint.

  • Cleojonz

    I like Tika Sumpter and all, but this didn’t need to have existed. I think I’m gonna have to sit this one out. But what you said was spot on. How big a deal are you if a movie about a day in your life, not even your whole life story. More likely though and evidenced by the amount of re-dos coming out in the near future- somebody is just running out of original story ideas.

    • miss t-lee

      And if it’s on lIfetime it’s gonna be straight cheddar.

  • 3. Underrated

    *IN Stefan f4om SNL’s voice*
    Yes, Yes, Yes.

  • Lmao@ “That faraway look ” in shot two…
    Pinky: “Whatcha gonna do tomorrow Bwain?!”
    Brain : “I’m going to take over THE WORLD! “

  • I hope they keep the story trill because Michelle was out here deep into her career and making bank when she met Barack, who, was riding around in a hooptie with holes in the floor. If they don’t highlight that Michelle was the bread winner I will be UPSET.

    • Brass Tacks

      I don’t think they will gloss over the fact that she really held him down while he was
      out-chea advocating for social justice on a social workers salary.

      I actually hope they highlight these moments to show how much they sacrificed in their youth, to become the strong family we see them as today.

    • IJS

      Right! Michelle was Barack’s mentor at the law firm where they first met. She was (is?) the prize in their relationship.

      • shayna61

        I’d so much rather her run for president than Hillary! She won’t do it, but a girl can dream.

    • Tristan

      Powerful black woman humbling herself for a regular dude…feel like we seen that one before

      • Why don’t men ever humble themselves? I’ve never really witnessed men (of any race) date down the way women across the board do.

        • Tristan

          Because societally speaking, men pursue so why would they intentionally reach down. Whereas women are typically pursued so they are subject to best suitor available.

          • Royale W. Cheese

            You hit the nail on the head. I would actually like to see this point expanded into a blog post. I would also like a generous brother to explain to others that he should NEVER ask his lady/ wife “so be honest, did you settle?” That’s like when women (stereotypically) ask “do these pants make me look fat?”

            • LeeLee

              I would also like a generous brother to explain to others that he should NEVER ask his lady/ wife “so be honest, did you settle?”

              So much truth right here!

        • DebraKayeII

          I dont know…i feel like powerful men date down all the time. Give them a sense of more power and security

        • NT

          I actually believe a lot of men date down, intellectually. Tiger Woods, for example, for all intensive, blonde hair, Barbie doll chicks, she was the business. But she had no education and he cheated on her repeatedly. I always said if he has a “Michelle” he’d still be on top of his game and a better man.

          • I never understood why Tiger hated his blackness so much. I guess in the golf world, having a white wife would make him blend in better with his peers….idk

  • Andie

    I can’t believe I’m getting Sophia Webster ads now??? Welp. Time to step away from the computer.

  • Baemie St. Patrick


  • TD

    I think I’ll wait for the bootleg guy on this one. I need something more than just that one summer. IJS

  • Brass Tacks

    “Her look, btw, is also the look every guy reading this (myself included) hopes his date/girl/wife has when attempting to convince her he could have been a rapper.”

    Haha…Sooo true

    • Wild Cougar

      To me it looks like she’s thinking “what is this negro talking about?” Also Tika looks pretty ordinary to me. That looks like my face 20 years ago. Black girl regular. But you all are into regular Black girl now? I’ll make a note of it. I thought the pictures were a little confusing because my impression was that Michelle had to be convinced to go out with that awkward skinny man so I’m pretty sure she wasn’t looking at him with awe on the first date. Maybe the third.

      • Brass Tacks

        The regular Black girl was my first crush; She gave me my first kiss. She has been a helped me pass my classes.

      • Brass Tacks

        When has Black girl regular not been the thing to be into? My first crush, kiss, and every dynamic afterward, were with the Black girl regular. So y’all were never not in style to me.

        Secondly, I disagree. That look to me says she sees his potential better than he does. Go ahead and be in awe of our future greatness boo!

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