How Far Will It Go Before America Realizes Trump Is Not A Laughing Matter
How many Donald Trump memes did you see today?
Maybe they were poking fun at his thin, wispy comb-over, or any one of the thousands- yes, thousands- of ridiculous, moronic statements that make it difficult to discern real news from an Onion article laden with satire. Maybe it’s one of the Melania-Bot or my personal favorite, the image of his two sons, Donald Trump Jr. and Eric Trump bearing a startling, eyebrow raising similarity to the 90’s pop culture icons Beavis and Butthead.
You can’t scroll through any social media timeline without an inevitable Trump lampoon, whether it comes from a comedically clever friend or a cartoonist from the Washington post.
Certainly, it’s hard not to see the asinine comedy in the American President’s insularity tweets, laden with child-like, bullish insults wherein he ridicules everyone from sports figures, journalists, actors and actresses, comedians and even other world leaders. It’s funny, right?
It would be if he wasn’t the President. People don’t follow him or tune into his antics to stay up to date on politics. They do so, instead, to witness the daily absurdity that spills from his fingertips or grab a new soundbyte every time he opens his mouth to remix into something that will go viral. It’s almost as if we’ve forgotten that our fate and future lies in the hands of this Man.
After all, he is a reality star. I get it. And in the past two years, the entire debacle that has been America under Trump has been rife with content more appropriate for a daytime soap. We’ve had pussy grabbing comments, paid off porn stars, lying, backstabbing, cheating, stealing, secret recordings and betrayal. There’s been books by Trump’s ex-Communications Director, Sean Spicer, the former head of the FBI, James Comey, the expose “Fire & Fury,” detailing the psychotic climate within the White House and most recently Trump’s ex-Reality co-star turned White House aide, Omarosa Manigault-Newman infamously dragged from the Oval Office now wordsmithing a dramatic, retaliatory tell-all, “Unhinged.”
The mockery that is the American President and all associated with him make for explosive and controversial headlines… and that’s all. The irony of the outrageous Saturday Night Live spoofs and endless jokes that America has become known globally for is that it’s not a joke at all. The oft-made commentary that it’s “Like a reality show” is appropriate, but alas, it is our reality. Remember?
Indeed, this is real. Sure, it was great fun throughout the campaign to heckle the dim-witted arrogance and repulsive theatrics of a blow-hard billionaire who thought he was qualified to sit in the Nation’s highest seat. It was like watching those terrible American Idol Audition videos on youtube where you laugh and cringe at the same time as those incapable of carrying a solitary note belt their hearts out to a Whitney Houston song. We laugh, we share, we make them into viral sensations. We don’t take them seriously, but we laugh because they do. That’s what makes it hilarious. They don’t go on to run record companies or win Grammy Awards.
Such was not the case in 2016. At some point, Americans have lost sight of the line between comedic entertainment and the reality in which we must thrive. To many people, the case of Donald Trump is still the punchline and not allowed the gravity nor acknowledgement of the severity of our crisis situation. We minimize horrendous examples of our actual situation by continuing to perpetuate it as simple satire. It’s still just a meme; A punt at his misspelled words- “Covfefe” for example became an international vernacular over night. Business insider devoted an entire article to the amusing conundrum that is the miseducation of Trump. People are so devoted to making Trump famous for his stupidity that they have completely forgotten he is our representative. He’s talking for us… his words are received across boundaries as our own.
I, too, enjoyed the back and forth banter for awhile. Along with the rest of the world I consumed it solely for the rubber-necking recklessness that it was. Until it became real. I’m not amused, nor am I shocked anymore.
I’m not laughing at your memes.
I live in a country that is so starved for distraction from the heaviness of our exhaustive reality that it has slipped into a realm of collective ignorance and blatant denial. There is such an willful blindness that has erupted in response to Donald Trump that, whether or not we accept him to be the President rather than a facebook caricature for glib remarks, he still is. We have allowed ourselves to separate from and exist in a delusion. That delusion will allow him to win again as people have rendered themselves incapable of believing he did to begin with. He’s still merely a “Talking Cheeto” or “King Dorito.” People still want it to be… just funny. Not real life.
A great many of my friends live outside the United States. Their opinions of him remain largely the same- let us not forget that when Trump visited the UK, residents in opposition of his leadership managed to organize a larger and significantly louder protest than we in the Divided States have ever conducted. While we laughed at him walking aimlessly in front of the Queen or put bold text on his photos with the Prime Minister likening them to characters in The Hunger Games, citizens across the United Kingdom came together- over 250,000 of them in London alone, to let him know they rebuke his audacity and condemn his leadership that has harmed so many.
But we laugh. Like a bus full of children amused by the baboon at the wheel driving us backward on a highway through oncoming traffic, the sight of it is just too terrifically funny to be bothered with concern for our own well-being. My friends will message me with their reactions to- oh, whatever the latest civil tragedy is- there’s a new one every day.
“Separating families? Children in cages? How can this be?”
“A ban on Trans people serving in Military? Calling them a burden!?”
“Redacting protective rights for LGBT students?”
“Religious freedom laws allowing persecution of non-christian people?”
“A travel ban?”
“Calling Mexicans rapists and drug dealers?”
“Why is he attacking the Mayor of Puerto Rico after hurricane devastation?”
“Did he just call Nazi’s Good People?”
“Your new Secretary of Education is taking away money from underprivileged, predominately black public schools to funnel it toward white, religious private institutions of learning?”
“I just heard about your Tariff war, you’ll be in a Great Depression soon.”
“What kind of President calls a hostile dictator Rocket Man and dares him to make a move? You’ll all die!”
“I heard you’ve pulled out of the United Nations Human Rights Council.”
“Trump threw starbursts at German Chancellor Angela Merkel? This is a grown man!”
And on, and on we go. Round and round as we continue this unending cycle of humiliation before a global public.
So, I see these memes, listen to the jokes… and they’re funny. Michelle Wolf’s brilliant roast of many in the Trump administration was gut busting. Except for the fact that she didn’t have to make anything up. It was the truth, bookended only with witty wording and delivered with the comedians deadpan tone. It wasn’t satire. It wasn’t a roast. She just read the daily headlines. She read our own reality back to us and we laughed because it was so ridiculous. We guffawed at our own cultural reflection as if it was someone else’s image staring back and they were startlingly disfigured.
Someone said to me that we are a nation of Facebook Activists. We’re mad for a minute but just as quickly distracted by the next scandal that we devour to satiate our voyeuristic tendencies. We’re so busy leaning over to listen to the heated conversation at the table next to ours that we don’t realize we’re the topic elsewhere. Our attention is always elsewhere… anywhere but where it should be.
Maybe because it just hurts to much. Or, it’s too bizarre and disturbing to process as a fact of our lives and we’d rather it be “Fake News.” We’re told every single day that it is and we seem to have accepted that.
We take comfort in alternative facts because we prefer them to what is.
It’s easier to manifest a joke than have to face the indignation that it’s at our expense.
That meme is your reality, and if it’s that funny, it’s sad.