Horrifying title, isn’t it?
I’m going to ask you do something very awful, dear reader. Steel yourself—it’s really not going to be fun. I’d like you to think back to 2016. Again—so sorry. I truly hate to make anyone relive that terrible year; however, for some reason, I am wont to provide you with a panoramic review of Donald Trump’s presence in modern media, social or otherwise. And while the media, if our beloved president is to be believed, may lie: images don’t. Even pictures doctored or photo-shopped beyond recognition can offer us glimpses into the psyches of their creators and the cultural impulses that lead to their production. And images of Trump, as we’ll see, are quite telling. So put on your time travel hat and get ready to go back to 2016 and visually remember Trump’s rise to power.
Alright, the first memories I’m going to make you relive are of Trump’s presidential campaign. One of the first images we associated with Mr. Trump was not of the man himself, but rather of his wife, Melania. The image surfaced around March, 2016 and was originally tweeted by Trump next to an unflattering image of Heidi Cruz (wife of alleged Zodiac killer, Ted Cruz). The tweet, captioned “No need to spill the beans/ images are worth a thousand words,” implied that Trump’s wife was more attractive than Cruz’s. Later in 2016, another notable image of Trump appeared on Twitter. The photo showed Trump sitting at his desk with a smile and a thumbs-up getting ready to eat his lunch. Do you remember this particular lunch, dear reader? I’ll give you a hint: the tweet was captioned “I love Hispanics!”
Bear with me folks, we’re halfway through 2016. I bring you now to early November when Trump was officially elected president. One of the first images I remember surfacing after the election was a dual photograph of two election parties: one democrat, one republican. The blue-affiliated side of the photo showed a diverse crowd including women and people of color looking beaten down and morose as they received news of Trump’s victory. The red-affiliated side showed a crowd of almost entirely white men and a few scattered white women in righteous celebration, grinning and celebrating their party’s success.
Even pictures doctored or photo-shopped beyond recognition can offer us glimpses into the psyches of their creators and the cultural impulses that lead to their production.
Alright, we’re done with 2016. Thank God. Now to January of this year when Trump was inaugurated. Several gorgeous memes originated from the event-—most of which I trust you’ll remember—but the most significant is the crowd size meme, now immortalized in meme history. The meme shows an image of the national mall on Trump’s inauguration day juxtaposed with a picture of the mall on the day of the National Women’s March, space in the latter image appearing much more thickly occupied—truly a work of art. So far, we’ve seen images associating Trump negatively and in direct contrast with women and minorities. Does this surprise you, dear reader?
Almost up to present-day now—let’s take a look at the rest of 2017. Trump is now in office, established and getting ready to “drain the swamp!” (Where the Shrek memes are, I’m not sure). I’m going to run through the images a bit quicker here because there are just so many. Ready? A gif of now-president Trump exhibiting his first order of business from his new desk in the oval office, photo-shopped so it appears as if he is displaying a crudely drawn picture of himself captioned “me.” A photo of comedienne Kathy Griffin holding a fake yet realistic Trump head, covered in blood as if she had decapitated him. Screenshots of the “covfefe” tweet. A work of graffiti depicting Trump in a passionate embrace with Russian president Vladimir Putin. A photo of a young girl crying as the president approaches her. Alec Baldwin in a Trump wig on “SNL.” Tiny hands. Need I say more?
These images present us with different realities—some hilarious and absurd, some bitter and pessimistic. All the images, though, are reflective of our culture, our country, and how we, as Americans, are currently interpreting our political situation. So, dear reader, be conscious of the images you are being presented and really think about where they’re coming from, what reality they present, what they mean for our country, and whether or not his hands are really like that. Those have got to be too small for normal human hands, right?