Presidents Watching Movies

While the President of the United States of America is one of the most powerful leaders of the free world, it’s important to remember that each and every person who has and will hold that office is a person just like the rest of us. And most people love movies. Therefore, it should come as no surprise to hear of presidents watching movies at the White House to unwind a bit, many times with other world leaders.

And now you can get a little insight into what a couple of America’s leaders were watching during their time in office as the lists of films screened by presidents Ronald Reagan and Jimmy Carter during their tenure have recently been publicized online. Each of them actually watched more movies than you might otherwise have thought.

In an article about Jimmy Carter’s movie habits during his time in the White House, Matt Novak at Gizmodo says:

“Looking at the movie viewing habits of a given president may not provide profound insights about their policies. But it does give us a unique lens through which to see how a president fit into, or even fought against, mainstream American culture during their time in the White House.”

Indeed, the way movies and television depict culture can influence how people see the world. And while you may not be able to link a single movie to a decision in diplomacy or politics, that doesn’t mean they don’t have some kind of impact on how the sitting president sees the world and its people.

The lists are too long to publish in their entirety here, but Carter took time to watch National Lampoon’s Animal House, Diamonds Are Forever, Annie Hall, The Big Sleep, Alien and Rocky, just to name a few. However, he didn’t see Star Wars, at least not in the White House, until 1978.

Funnily enough, Ronald Reagan, who was responsible for a satellite defense initiative named after Star Wars, didn’t watch the original movie during his time in office, nor The Empire Strikes Back. But he did take the time to watch Return of the Jedi at Camp David, as well as Star Trek III: The Search for Spock and Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home. At the same presidential retreat, he also sat down to watch Back to the Future, and it would have been awesome to be in the theater with him when the joke about his presidency came out of Doc Brown’s mouth.

The full list of movies Jimmy Carter watched during his presidency, along with a great write-up about presidents watchingn movies, can be found right here. And the list of movies that Ronald Reagan watched at the White House and Camp David can be found right here.

Are you surprised at any of the movies these presidents chose to watch?

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