Skip Navigation

Close and don't show again.

Your browser is out of date.

You may not get the full experience here on National Journal.

Please upgrade your browser to any of the following supported browsers:

How Osama bin Laden Has Evolved in Pop Culture How Osama bin Laden Has Evolved in Pop Culture

This ad will end in seconds
 
Close X

Not a member? Learn More »

Forget Your Password?

Don't have an account? Register »

Reveal Navigation
 

 

Homepage / national security

How Osama bin Laden Has Evolved in Pop Culture

photo of Julia Edwards
May 2, 2011

Osama bin Laden was not unknown to many Americans before the September 11 terrorist attacks, but afterwards he became a pop culture heavyweight: Terror personified on the one hand and a symbol to be mocked on the other. Looking back on the first images of the al-Qaida leader tracks the changes in public discourse on terrorism. 

Want the news first every morning? Sign up for National Journal’s Need-to-Know Memo. Short items on news that has broken overnight -- or will during the day.

 

 

Comedians cast bin Laden as the arch-nemesis of President George W. Bush. Above, Saturday Night Live's Will Ferrell impersonates the president on October 6, 2001: "Make no mistake, we are coming for you, bin Laden. I’m gonna make you my own personal Where’s Waldo."

Country and novelty singer Ray Stevens was particularly aggressive in lampooning the terrorist. In the title track of his 2002 album Osama-Yo'Mama, Stevens sang, "Osama -- yo' mama didn't raise you right / When you were young, she must have wrapped yo' turban too tight."

Alongside the influx of American flags that waved in a resurgence of patriotism was anti-bin Laden paraphernalia. Above: crosshairs over bin Laden's face as printed on mugs, posters, and T-shirts at the start of the war on terror.

Darryl Worley, seen above with U.S. troops, released Have You Forgotten? in 2003 in part as a response to the backlash against U.S. military action. Worley sang, "Don't you tell me not to worry 'bout bin Laden. Have you forgotten?"

About 24 hours before President Obama would announce the death of Osama bin Laden, Saturday Night Live's Seth Meyers cracks a joke about the terrorist's whereabouts at the White House Correspondents' Association Dinner. Meyers's joke reflects the change in bin Laden's public image in the U.S. from reachable to elusive. Obama, who's seen laughing along, had already authorized the mission to take out the terrorist.

Job Board
Search Jobs
Biomedical Service Internship Position
American Society of Civil Engineers | Flint, MI
Fire Sprinkler Inspector
American Society of Civil Engineers | Charlotte, NC
Professional Development Program Engineer
American Society of Civil Engineers | Farmington Hills, MI
Deputy Director of Transit Operations
American Society of Civil Engineers | San Jose, CA
Transportation Planner
American Society of Civil Engineers | Salinas, CA
Assistant Professor - Water Resources/Ecological Engineering
American Society of Civil Engineers | Auburn, AL
Product Manager - Chemical Development and Supply - Tulsa, OK
American Society of Civil Engineers | Tulsa, OK
Commissioning Intern
American Society of Civil Engineers | Chicago, IL
Assessment and Remediation Team Lead
American Society of Civil Engineers | Regina, SK
Business Development Manager
American Society of Civil Engineers
Sr. Controls Systems Engineer
American Society of Civil Engineers | Grand Island, NE
Senior Project Manager- Transportation
American Society of Civil Engineers | San Antonio, TX
Materials Engineer 2
American Society of Civil Engineers | IL
Land Surveyor
American Society of Civil Engineers
Quality Engineer
American Society of Civil Engineers | Attica, IN
 
Comments
comments powered by Disqus