‘White House Down’ and Black Presidents on Screen

‘White House Down’ and Black Presidents on Screen

The New York Times

Mekado Murphy

At one point in the action thriller “White House Down,” which opens June 28, the president of the United States, played by Jamie Foxx, is trying to thwart a paramilitary group that has overtaken the White House. After swapping his more presidential footwear for basketball shoes, he kicks a bad guy in the face and yells, “Get your hands off my Jordans!”

It’s not a line many Hollywood versions of the leader of the free world would utter: he (it’s usually a he) is often stuffier, a little bland maybe, and most often white. “White House Down,” directed by Roland Emmerich, doesn’t wear the race of its president on its sleeve, but it doesn’t shy away from the fact either. Before President Obama’s election, Dennis Haysbert set the standard for television presidents with his portrayal of David Palmer on “24.” But memorable black commanders in chief have been harder to come by on the big screen. And as with their real-life counterparts, they get their way only some of the time…

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