Correspondences between the Story of Othello and the Presidency of Barack Obama

The correspondences between the character of Othello and presidnet Obama are simply to obvious for me to have missed in my initial draft of the movie review. Nevertheless, the idea escapes my mind and I wish to address them now.

Barack Obama is chosen by the country to be the commander-in-chief, essentially the same position for which Othello is chosen. Although Obama is not from another country, he was virtually unknown to most Americans when he came to prominence in 2008. He has a distinctly Muslim name and is suspected of being a "secret Muslim" in league with the modern Ottoman counterparts, Al Qaeda, ISIS, and the rest of the worldwide Islamic terrorist networks, and this in spite of the fact that he personally directed the assassination of two leading Islamic terrorists leaders, Anwar al-Awlaki, an operative of Al Qaeda, and Osama binLaden. In this modern American Othello tale, the dual roles of both Iago and Desdemona are assumed by the Republican Party whose affection he seeks and who demonize him for his negritude.

I actually had the CHUTSPAH to think that I had come up with this analagy on my own as if no one else had ever thought of it. Oh no! It is quite an obvious comparison.

In the British newspaper, The Spectator, there is an article from 2008. OBAMA IS AN OTHELLO FOR OUR TIMES. []. The author, Venetia Thompson, points out: "White men only pretend to admire the presidential contender. Beneath their supposed approval lurk primeval racist fears of the black ‘super-male’."

In his article, RETHINKING 'OTHELLO' IN THE AGE OF OBAMA, [], NEAL CONAN informs us: "In New York City, there's a new production of Shakespeare's 'Othello' directed by Peter Sellars. The cast includes Philip Seymour Hoffman and John Ortiz. Sellars said that, quote, 'In the age of Obama, this play needs to yield new meanings.' He starts with both time and place. Sellars sets the play in Washington, D.C., rethinks and reinterprets the principal relationship of Shakespeare's play, and he casts a Latino as Othello."

In the theater blog: MEMO TO THE RSC: OBAMA IS NOT OTHELLO [], Andrew Haydon writes, "Shortly before the inauguration of Barack Obama, I received a press release from the Royal Shakespeare Company with the subject line: 'Obama: Is he an Othello for our times?' To the best of my knowledge, the 44th president of the United States has never once murdered his wife in a jealous rage before taking his own life. So, no, President Obama is not 'an Othello for our times'. But why on earth would the RSC want to suggest a parallel? It turns out that this discussion was inspired by an article by Venetia Thompson in the Spectator last year. Written before Obama had even become the Democratic nominee, let alone president, its depressingly pessimistic thesis draws a parallel between Desdemona's father Brabantio and white male American voters, arguing 'white men' have a barely concealed fear of black men. Her evidence for these claims are largely supposition, guesswork and innuendo, mixed with what looks very much like personal anecdote dressed up as hypothetical scenario.

The analagy has even spawned a satire of the play: OTHELLO REVISED STARRING BARACK OBAMA AS THE MOOR AND HILLARY CLINTON AS IAGO by Roger Freed []

At this writing, Obama isno longer president and the analogy never went very far. But I couldn't not write a review of the movie and not mention that some people had thought about it.

Return To The Othello Review