During his trip through Southern California this week, President Obama made a stop at DreamWorks Animation studio, calling Hollywood’s entertainment industry one of the “bright spots” of the economy.
“This is one of America’s economic engines,” he said. “Not just DreamWorks, but this whole cluster of companies that generations have grown up knowing: Disney and Warner, Universal and others.”
The president compared Hollywood’s importance to Southern California to that of Wall Street in New York City and the auto industry in Detroit. “Hundreds of thousands of middle class jobs, they’re not always on the marquee… depend on this incredible industry here in Southern California,” Obama told an audience outside the studio.
He also highlighted the importance of America’s entertainment industry as an economic and diplomatic asset on a global scale. “Entertainment is one of America’s biggest exports.” The president continued, “And believe it or not, entertainment is part of our American diplomacy. It’s part of what makes us exceptional, part of what makes us a world power.”
As an example of entertainment’s global appeal, the president noted that he can go anywhere in the world and say, “May the force be with you” and be understood. He told the employees at DreamWorks that their work allows people who may never visit the United States to experience “a small part of what makes our country special.”
“They’ve learned something about our values. We have shaped a world culture through you.” He noted that, among the values Hollywood helps to celebrate, are tolerance, diversity and overcoming adversity. However, he did remind those DreamWorks employees that the entertainment industry has a “big responsibility” against things like “glorifying” gun violence. “The stories we tell matter.”
During his DreamWorks visit, the president briefly met with actors Jim Parsons and Steve Martin. Noting that he had a cold, Martin opted to playfully bump elbows with the president rather than shake his hand. President Obama also got to see what his voice would look like coming out of a monster dreamed up by the studio’s animators.
The head of DreamWorks Animation–the studio responsible for blockbuster film franchises like Shrek, Kung Fu Panda, and How to Train Your Dragon–Jeffrey Katzenberg helped raised millions for the president’s 2012 re-election campaign and also donated $3 million to the Obama-friendly super PAC, Priorities USA Action.
The president’s trip included at least seven different fundraisers, including one at the home of Marta Kauffman, a co-creator of the NBC comedy “Friends.” Fundraisers were also held at the home of basketball star-turned-entrepreneur Magic Johnson and Haim Saban of the Saban Capital Group. Before visiting Los Angeles, the president made stops in both Seattle and San Francisco.