Thanks to the power of mass marketing, even Toronto fans can buy into the spirit of Barack Obama’s inauguration.

Yes you can.

Folks don’t have to be in Washington to invest in a T-shirt emblazoned with the swearing-in date, dress the baby in a “Barack-a-bye baby” onesie, wrap themselves in an Obama blanket or cook dinner in oven mitts that honour the occasion.

Judging from the vast quantities of loot now bearing the U.S. president-elect’s face and campaign slogan, his pop culture clout rivals that of Princess Di, Bratz dolls and MTV rolled into one.

“It’s unprecedented,” says Megan Boler, associate chair of theory and policy studies at the U of T’s Ontario Institute for Studies in Education.

So is this politics as a fashion statement? Ideology reduced to cheesy trinkets? Boler says it’s not that simple.

At a time of bleak economic headlines and crisis in the Middle East, “there’s a desperation for hope,” she says.

“The cultural mood is that when you wear Obama, you’re not just wearing the face of the next president, you’re also projecting this need for hope.”
Obama’s inauguration ceremony takes place on Jan. 20.

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