“Parodying Trump is at best a distraction from his real politics; at worst it converts the whole of politics into a gag. The process has nothing to do with the performers or the writers or their choices. Trump built his candidacy on performing as a comic heel — that has been his pop culture persona for decades. It is simply not possible to parody effectively a man who is a conscious self-parody, and who has become president of the United States on the basis of that performance.”1
In my past work, I used a joke, popular among dissidents, from the good old days of Really-Existing Socialism. In the 15th century Russia occupied by Mongols, a farmer and his wife walk along a dusty country road; a Mongol warrior on a horse stops at their side and tells the farmer that he will now rape his wife; he then adds: “But since there is a lot of dust on the ground, you should hold my testicles while I’m raping your wife, so that they would not get dirty!” After the Mongol finishes his job and rides away, the farmer starts to laugh and jump with joy. Surprised, the wife asks him: “How can you be jumping with joy when I was just brutally raped in your presence?” The farmer answers: “But I got him! His balls are full of dust!” Politically incorrect as it sounds, this joke brings out a sad truth. It tells of the predicament of dissidents: they thought they are dealing serious blows to the party nomenklatura, but all they were doing was getting a little bit of dust on the nomenklatura’s testicles, while the nomenklatura went on raping the people… And can we not say exactly the same about Jon Stewart & Co. making fun of Trump? Do they not just dust his balls, or, in the best of cases, scratch them?
[Appeared in The Philosophical Salon on January 15th 2018.]