Visiting a studio run by one of his most ardent political supporters, President Obama today praised Hollywood as a driver of economic growth, calling the entertainment industry "one of the bright spots of our economy.
"This is one of America's economic engines," the president said during a visit to the Glendale campus of DreamWorks Animation. "Entertainment is one of America's biggest exports. And every day you sell a product that's made in America to the rest of the world.
"You can go anywhere on the planet, and you'll see a kid wearing a Madagascar T-shirt. You can say, 'May the Force be with you,' they know what you're talking about. Hundreds of millions of people may never set foot in the United States, but thanks to you, they've experienced 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 said.
The president cautioned, however, that the industry's legacy to the world comes with "a big responsibility."
"When it comes to issues like gun violence, we've got to make sure that we're not glorifying it, because the stories you tell shape our children's outlook and their lives," he said. "The stories we tell matter, and you tell stories more powerfully than anybody else on the earth."
Before addressing the large crowd of young employees, the president met with entertainment executives and got a tour of the studio from DreamWorks Animation Chief Executive Jeffrey Katzenberg, who is one of Obama's biggest fundraisers.
"I would like to work here," the president later joked.
During his tour the president watched as two actors, wearing motion capture sensors, acted out a scene for the upcoming sequel "How To Train Your Dragon 2."
The president, grinning like a kid, gave the demonstration a rave review. "That was wonderful," he said, clearly entertained. "Coming to a theater near you!" he exclaimed.
Next, the president stopped by a sound recording studio where Steve Martin and Jim Parsons voiced a scene for the upcoming film "Home." To explain how the voice over works, the director showed the president a clip of his own voice booming from the mouth of an animated alien. "Now that's great. I gotta get that clip. That will impress the girls," the president said after watching it.
After three days of fundraising and official events on the West Coast, the president is now on his way back to Washington, where he will spend the Thanksgiving holiday with his family.