White House Down might not seem the most culturally significant of films. It’s the second Die-Hard-in-Washington thriller we’ve seen this year, following Olympus Has Fallen in April, so you might well argue that its only distinction is to make a Gerard Butler action movie seem plausible in comparison. But wait. Film historians may yet have to include Roland Emmerich’s goofy explosion-fest in their footnotes. Starring Channing Tatum as an aspiring secret service agent, and Jamie Foxx as the president he dreams of protecting, it’s the first Hollywood blockbuster to put a Barack Obama substitute in the White House.
We’ve had black presidents in the movies before, of course. Morgan Freeman seemed so well-suited to the job of commander-in-chief in Deep Impact that it was a shock when he was demoted to speaker in Olympus Has Fallen.