So we’re really going to do this, huh? This is really going to be a thing? Apparently, there actually is a school of thought among those opposed to Donald Trump’s offensive campaign for president that laughing at a presumably exaggerated version of his naked figure amounts to “body-shaming.” Yeah, I’m not making that up. It would be wonderfully refreshing to be able to express surprise at this development, but given the left’s farcical propensity for near-suicidal self-flagellation, it’s just not that much of a shock.
If you’ve been anywhere near Facebook over the past 48 hours or so, you’ve seen what’s at the center of this supposed controversy. On Thursday morning, at 8 o’clock Eastern time, five statues went up simultaneously in five cities across the country. Each was the same: It featured a “life-sized” image of Donald Trump, naked and looking, shall we say, less-than-attractive, with veiny, wrinkled skin, a sagging ass and plump belly, a helmet of yellow hair — and a micropenis with no testicles. At the base of each statue was a plaque adorned with the words “The Emperor Has No Balls,” a reference to the fable about an emperor so pompous that he can’t even recognize when he’s being ridiculed. According to The Daily Beast, the statues’ creator, Josh Monroe — amusingly and maybe appropriately, a designer of creatures for horror movies — says the idea, commissioned by the art collective Indecline, was to create a mocking, satirical “tribute” to the “modern day Emperor of Fascism and Bigotry.”
The statues have gone over like gangbusters, not surprising considering that they turned up in places like New York City, Los Angeles and San Francisco. Thousands have taken selfies with them; thousands more, you’d have to imagine, have just pointed and giggled. Hell, even in clearing out the statue at New York’s Union Square the city’s Parks Department took a clever shot at Trump, saying, “NYC Parks stands firmly against any unpermitted erection in city parks, no matter how small.” What the Trump statues have represented is a chance to, just for a little while, take the wind out of an existential threat to the United States, its people and the world by allowing all of us to laugh at it rather than fear it. This little art project has, in the most necessary way, deflated and emasculated a man who thrives on his own inflated ego and the self-made mythology that he’s the most masculine man on the planet. Can they change the course of the election? Not by themselves. But they satirically knock a bully down a few pegs by removing that which protects him — his image — and leaving him both literally and metaphorically naked.
You’d think that this kind of mockery would be a gimme. That Trump is such a contemptible creature, such an unprecedentedly malignant cancer within our culture — an unapologetic racist, misogynist and nativist who’s raised up an army of violent, hate-fueled zombies — that just this once the self-defeating left would let the criticism slide, understanding the greater good being served by it. You would, however, be wrong. Because — ironically, given that the beneficiary of this tedious outrage is a man whose very ascendance is the product of an open campaign of hostility toward “political correctness” — of course there are now a slew of high-profile think-pieces aimed at scolding those of us enjoying the Trump statues for our supposed “body-shaming” of him.
The Guardian sees not just body-shaming but “ageism” at play in the Trump tribute. “Whomever one is talking about, shaming his or her physical self is worse than cruelty for its own sake (though it is that),” pontificates Murray Whyte. “It’s irrelevant.” Meanwhile, Time magazine’s Pauline Campos calls the statues “offensive” and proceeds to tie her reasoning for that opinion back to her personal battle with bulimia. “Shaming Trump as a response to the many offensive comments cited in the media since he announced his run for President doesn’t make us better than him. It puts us on the same level,” she cautions. “Turning the abuser into the victim just makes you the new abuser. I know it’s supposed to be about taking back power, but at what cost?” Yes, for what shall it profit a man if he laughs at a naked, castrated bully and loses his own soul. At the risk of mixing literary metaphors — the horror, the horror.
Bustle‘s Madhuri Sathish, meanwhile, laments the fact that we’re all willing to compromise our “progressive values” to laugh at something “not even remotely funny,” and the potential impact such impertinence will have on the oppressed and disenfranchised (you know, those Trump and his shock-troops seek to oppress and disenfranchise right off the face of the planet). “Laughing at these things — and encouraging others to do so — doesn’t just affect Trump. It also further marginalizes intersex, trans, and fat bodies, and is definitely an act of body-shaming,” she writes. Please feel free to take a few minutes to marvel at how she manages to deftly parkour from ridiculing the singular embodiment of white male privilege to somehow committing social injustice on a grand scale. If leaps-of-logic were an Olympic sport, Sathish would be a gold medalist.
Does insulting Donald Trump’s looks just bring us down to his level? No, of course it doesn’t. It’s difficult to imagine that anyone currently laughing at the statues of naked, ball-less Trump or otherwise mocking his cartoonish appearance goes through his or her life being the kind of narcissistic, pathologically lying, bigoted bully and would-be fascist dictator Trump does. And while it’s easy to make the argument that we should be criticizing Trump’s horrific behavior and the incoherent gibberish that passes for his draconian policy proposals rather than his sagging orange skin, ridiculous hair and parody penis, it’s safe to say there’s room for both — and both are necessary. At all times, serious people should be fighting back against everything he stands for, but make no mistake: you only defeat someone like Trump by pointing and laughing loudly at everything about him that’s a source of his pomposity and braggadocio. And Trump thinks he’s the sexiest man alive.
It’s Trump’s own vanity that’s a huge weakness for him, particularly when paired with his inability to take criticism or ridicule, and it should be exploited at every opportunity — because doing so, laughing at him, usually causes him to react like a child. (Just ask Graydon Carter.) And that’s something you need the world to see over and over again this election season. It’s healthy for us to be able to laugh at that which would otherwise be terrifying and it’s especially healthy for us, in this case, to take a couple of shots at Trump in a language he understands — a language he speaks fluently but which he can’t handle being spoken back to him. Trump is a bully. The only thing a bully understands is to either be bullied back or to be completely emasculated and deflated. The naked Trump statues accomplish the latter half of that equation.
This shouldn’t even need to be said, but here goes: Donald Trump doesn’t deserve your sympathy. He doesn’t deserve to be the impetus for an object lesson or a sanctimonious lecture on the injustice of making fun of someone’s looks. He doesn’t deserve to be on the receiving end of the slightest bit of emotional largess provided by the very political correctness he vows to crush with a freakishly small iron fist. Trump is a puffed-up buffoon who also happens to be one of the most dangerous men in the world right now. What matters now isn’t how hard you hit him or what tactic you use to hit him, only that you hit him — over and over and over again. So mock him. Laugh at him. Criticize him. Take the piss out of him. Because that’s what that motherfucker so richly deserves.
Chez Pazienza was the beating heart of The Daily Banter, sadly passing away on February 25, 2017. His voice remains ever present at the Banter, and his influence as powerful as ever.