LectureHop: Obama Girl

Written by

Lecture Hop editor Pierce Stanley reports on a strange visitor in the hallowed halls of American history.

(Hi Daily Intelligencer!)

Recent semesters at Columbia have seen the arrival of some of the world’s brightest and most eloquent speakers at fair Alma, broadening academic discourse on campus in a very fruitful way. Unfortunately, for all of the good speakers that come to Columbia, some bad ones happen to slip through the cracks. Indeed, these years have also been witness to some of the most controversial, questionable, and even disgraceful speakers on campus in recent years.

The appearance this afternoon of Obama Girl (a.k.a. actress Amber Lee Ettinger) in Professor David Eisenbach’s American Presidency history course likely falls into the latter category, with Eisenbach’s choice of speaker being questionable at best.  Amber’s visit this evening to Mike Gravel’s Communications Director’s course (just in case you missed her live-chat on YouTube last night) sparked both interest in the topic at hand–the role of viral videos and the YouTube generation in determining the eventual outcome of the 2008 Presidential election–and it sparked much controversy as to whether a minor actress (who doesn’t even do her own singing, failed to vote in the last election, and claims that she does not even really have a crush on one of Columbia’s favorite alums) should receive such a reception in the hallowed halls of the classroom.  Many Columbia students left the classroom in IAB befuddled by Amber’s appearance and by Professor Eisenbach’s impromptu decision to hold such an event.  Some left not knowing quite what to make of Obama Girl’s appearance on campus.  Overheard: “Are we really paying $40,000 plus a year to line up and take pictures with her like shes Santa?  I feel like a five year old kid again.”

Amber spoke about a total of ten words this evening. This worked out well, because the mastermind behind the website barelypolitical.com, Ben Relles, handled the bulk of the class’s queries quite well, mixing videos from his site with a rather engaging explanation about the nature of his enterprise. Relles argued that hopefully viewers of the Obama Girl video will be able to gain some interest in the candidate and perhaps the political process as a whole. Relles indicated that while he is delighted that candidates are forced to actually watch and respond to these videos, his original intention was not to provoke political events. The video’s main goal, according to Relles, is to create an online culture of humor surrounding the political process.

University of Chicago senior Michael Stevens, the creator of the Barack O’Bollywood gem, characterized Internet video humor as emblematic of the next generation of voters. Eisenbach suggested that perhaps YouTube, viral videos in the vein of Obama Girl (and all of her competitors including the McCain Girls and Hott 4 Hill Girl), and even blogs are the future of American politics. They are one step ahead of traditional media sources and reach the younger generations, all a plus in a country that is increasingly apathetic about politics. But what does this all mean about the American public if the information that they get about politicians comes exclusively from satirical online video shorts?

While Professor Eisenbach’s email to the course last night seemed to indicate that the Obama Girl herself would field many of the questions, the event turned into a montage of all the videos that Relles had made for his website. Later, it became a photo-shoot with the budding young actress. However, most were left wondering whether they had just killed an hour and fifteen minutes watching YouTube videos that they would have come across anyway while they put off writing a paper.

Perhaps it is still far too early to tell the impact of this movement on elections, but Professor Eisenbach may have put it best when he asked a gushing Obama Girl, “What do you think of the prospect that college classes on the Presidency may be watching your very video a hundred years from now to demonstrate its lasting impact?” Obama Girl just smiled and replied coyly, “That’s why you’re a professor.”


Tags: , ,


  1. Alexandra  

    Shout out to Mr. Grumbach

  2. Pierce  

    Jake, this one is a classic for all days to come

  3. ...  

    a stylized t-shirt "it's as real as it gets san francisco general hospital"... i don't get it. is it related to the book with the same title? the book appears to have disappeared into obscurity...

    • Jake  

      And how hard is it to understand my shirt? SF General is a public hospital that treats underserved and uninsured patients, and they thus keep it real over there. That's where the doctors who wanna make a difference go, instead of treating old ladies with headaches on the Upper East Side. And the primary care physicians at public hospitals like SF General make less than a quarter of what the private specialists make.

      As real as it gets.

  4. Ray  

    Her outfit is hideous. You can't wear a sack without a belt.

  5. fashion police

    You would have at lest expected her to look sexy. That was the whole point, if there ever was one. She should have come wearing the same attire that she wore in the Obama flick.

  6. random  

    damn Jake! You look like you are enjoying that picture a little too much. Out of curiosity, where is your right hand at in that picture?

  7. hmmm  

    Hmm I don't pay over 40k per year (scholarships/finaid) so I guess it is ok if I waste time with the Obama Girl!

  8. please

    fire eisenbach. worst professor ever. He seems to be actively trying to discredit himself, from being a Mike Gravel groupie, to hosting his bizarre friendly fire which evolved into a Gravel love fest, to this hilarious if totally wortheless stunt. all eisenbach wants is attention, and he's willing to stoop as low as is necessary to get it. all spectacle, no substance, give the fool the boot, please!

    • please

      dave is the man. his class was probably my favorite one freshman year. one of the reasons i stuck it out for a second.

    • seriously  

      right fucking on. can we get rid of this clown already? does he have tenure? how 'bout we wage an abu-el-haj/MEALAC style public smear campaign? he's a gravel campaign director, he must be somehow associated with some sort of harsh rhetorical attack on the US or israel, right?

  9. ........

    I would have been envious of those in his class if the Obama girl did in class what she did in the video. Then of course, I would have also fallen on the floor laughing. It's a two-edged sword, you see...

  10. wtf?  

    is Eisenbach crazy? how is she relevant at all?

  11. seriously  

    this was the worst thing I ever have sat through in class. It was obvious that every girl in that room was incredibly uncomfortable watching their classmates forsake intellectual enterprise just so they can watch a "hot" girl.

  12. What?  

    This is just ridiculous. Next up: Perez Hilton lecturing at the J-School.

  13. It appears  

    david eisenbach will stop at nothing to receive attention. that is, nothing except actual scholarship or insight.

  14. ...  

    if you don't see the relevance of this, then you are both foolish and narrow minded.

    the democratization of media brought about by widespread adoption of the internet is a fucking sea-change for our culture that is only just getting started. (what the end result of this change will be, and whether it leads out down a desirable path is still an open question...)

    it's her irrelevance that makes her relevant. she might not have any direct insights to add, but now you've seen first hand that anyone can easily participate in the political process regardless of whether they have any power or anything interesting to add. that alone is a very interesting development.

    when he said that she will be in the history books, he was right on the money.

    • IMO  

      I don't really see Obama Girl as being any kind of "sea change". People have been composing pop/folk songs for presidential candidates for quite a while. All that is new is the medium. I would be extremely surprised if Obama Girl is remembered as anything more than an extremely obscure historical footnote; trivia question fodder.

      So far Eisenbach leeched onto the Minuteman/Ahmedinejad controversies with his Friendly Fire forum, made an enormous deal about his Gravel connections and now he pulled this, which is nothing more than a publicity stunt. Eisenbach is the Paris Hilton of academia.

  15. ...  

    ps. if you want to talk about publicity stunts, then why don't we talk about our old friend mahmoud ahmadinejad. there's been hundreds of mahmoud ahmadinejads throughout history. how many "obama girls" have there been?

  16. honestly

    I really like Eisenbach and I agree that the internet is important (to be blunt) but this was a total joke. Even the bros in the class seemed unimpressed.

  17. Dr. Pangloss

    To maintain this as the best of all possible worlds, we must stamp out cutesy. Cutesy is a fatal disease that turns people into caricatures of themselves.

    Eisenbach is indeed the Paris Hilton of academia. He does not belong at Columbia or at any other institution of learning.

    If he is promoting Obama Girl as the face of New Politics, then let him do it elsewhere.

  18. Anonymous

    It's amazing to find out that there are so many dummies who attend such a great school where I have to pay $40,000 a semester. Most of you really missed the whole point of the topic of discussion, maybe because they were too busy staring at the Obama Girl and not focusing. The Obama Girl was really very well spoken and we should appreciate that she took time out of her day to come join us. I think that most of my classmates are just haters and from what I see, I can undrstand why.

  19. Dr. Pangloss

    Hail to anonymous who can see that the emperor is not wearing a stitch of anything worth seeing.

  20. Jake  

    I was trying to get her number. We'll see how it goes between us hahahaha.

    PS: Eisenbach is the man, and that class was relevant, and you all know that. Obama Girl did almost none of the talking...the guy who wrote/produced the video had some interesting things to say.

    And it beats taking notes for an hour and a quarter

  21. Wang

    Barack Obama is the greatest!


    George W. Bush continuously criminally stalked Margie Schoedinger to the point that she could not get away from it, and she committed suicide in desperation to escape: he murdered her.

    “In her suit, Margie Schoedinger states that George W. Bush committed sexual crimes against her, organized harassment and moral pressure on her, her family members and close relatives and friends. As Schoedinger said, she was strongly recommended to keep her mouth shut. . . . Furthermore, she alleges that George Bush ordered to show pressure on her to the point, when she commits suicide” (blog of drizzten).

    “One of those ‘very leasts’ [was] George Bush’s personal complicity in the death (murder to be precise) of my friend Margie Schoedinger in September of 2003. Determining the exact whereabouts and contacts of [then] president-elect George Bush on September 21 thru 22, 2003, should be entirely lacking in difficulty” (Leola McConnell—Nevada Progressive Democratic Candidate for U.S. Senate in 2010).

    Leola McConnell is correct: Bush applying pressure (continuously criminally stalking Margie Schoedinger) purposefully to force Margie Schoedinger to commit suicide does in fact constitute murder.

    BEWARE: If the president of the United States hates one—for whatever reasons—he can continuously criminally stalk one to the point that one cannot get away from it, and one ultimately commits suicide in desperation to escape. He can murder people in this way.

    Bush is getting away with his murder of Margie Schoedinger—with no sheriff, prosecutor, or court willing to uphold the rule of law.

    Bush’s method of murdering Margie Schoedinger cannot exist in a vacuum: he must have murdered other people in the same way.

    Bush should confess, come out with the names of all of the people whom he murdered in the disgusting way he murdered Margie Schoedinger, undergo execution, and accordingly find himself at the intersection where he would be free.

    (There are thousands of copies of the information above on the Internet. It exists very extensively in all major search engines. Please feel free to go to any major search engine, type “George W. Bush continuously criminally stalked Margie Schoedinger to the point that she could not get away from it, and she committed suicide in desperation to escape: he murdered her,” hit “Enter,” and find innumerable results.)
    Andrew Wang
    B.S., Summa Cum Laude, 1996
    Messiah College, Grantham, PA
    Lower Merion High School, Ardmore, PA, 1993

© 2006-2015 Blue and White Publishing Inc.