This Trumpzilla Cartoon Won’t Fix a Thing
Politics is hard, and we need some straightforward and literal way to handily process the ever-shifting alliances of power in an election season. To that end, The Baffler has employed expert comic mind David Rees to give a visual rendering of the day’s signature political controversies. The only problem is that David can’t draw, so his cartoons are word pictures—which is to say, words. He does, however, warmly urge Baffler readers to submit their own visual interpretations of the scenes he describes, so that we can get away with calling this a cartoon feature, and meet our quota of user-generated content on the Baffler website.
Image submissions from our previous cartoon: Scalia at the Pearly Gates.
Donald Trump was the big winner of the Republican Super Tuesday primary. This poses an artistic challenge for political cartoonists, since most newspapers won’t publish images of huge piles of manure giving a thumbs-up; or images of KKK Grand Wizards masturbating to exit polls; or images of bald eagles covered in swastikas vomiting into the ready, open mouths of white voters who are simultaneously huffing cans of paint labeled “Politics of Resentment” while shitting on the Pope.
And so we are a left with a problem of representation: What images are available to convey this electoral outcome without offending decent citizens, or haunting the dreams of children?
We must tread lightly. We must employ subtlety. We must be sophisticated adults.
Oh, fuck it. You are looking at a Godzilla-like monster with a white hood and a two-inch dick gleefully destroying a city. Buildings are exploding; planes are falling from the sky; trains are upside down and torn apart. There are fires in the distance. Citizens with NPR tote bags are screaming and bleeding.
And though it took you a moment because you were so distracted by the trauma of the ash-sullied tote bags, you finally notice a second population—a second movement—a wave of people running toward the monster. These people are mostly white and poorly educated. (You can confirm this because they are helpfully labeled as such.) Ah! You’ve heard of these people, but rarely see them. I certainly don’t know what the hell they look like.
The monster is yelling, “I love the poorly educated—they’re delicious!” You’d think he’d be shoving fistfuls of these people into his mouth, in order to draw power from their rageful enthusiasm. But this poor monster has short, stubby fingers. In fact, his fingers are so short, they can’t perform the basic monster-fingers-function of enclosing terrified victims inside an iron grip. This only makes the monster angrier, as his physical and intellectual shortcomings have been a lifelong source of resentment and crazed overcompensation. This, indeed, is probably why he’s so skilled at plucking the strings of those particular instruments for the crazed enjoyment of his supporters—supporters whose collective shortcoming merely stems from the sad fact that they occupy a demographic that has been systematically exploited for political gain by people who don’t respect them and are actually a little afraid of them, and have been for decades.
Oh! I should mention the monster’s fingers look like soggy Cheetos, which is probably why Chris Christie is sucking on them. (Also: Chris Christie is wearing a diaper made out of incriminating Bridge-gate emails.)
The tableau of destruction also includes a stupid fucking wall that will never get built (labeled as such); Secret Service agents removing people from a public rally because they’re black; random Mussolini quotes flying through the air; and Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio pretending to be insult comics at the world’s saddest open-mic night, staged on the ancient burial ground of the Lincoln-Douglas debates.
As you look at this cartoon, you are overcome with a cold, knowing dread. Not because the imagery is horrific—although the sight of Chris Christie’s mouth covered in Cheetos slime has permanently damaged your retinas—but because you realize the imagery is pointless. Perhaps it gave you a few moments of sharp satisfaction, like a John Oliver monologue, or provoked a knowing chortle, like an anti-Trump tweet you almost hurt your finger fav-ing, but that’s all it can do. In the end, this cartoon—any cartoon—is as impotent as a baby in the bottom of a well. It won’t change anything. The people who “need to see it” never will, and even if they did, it would only solidify their sense of umbrage and persecution at the hands of the elite. Plus, it’s not all that funny.
And this is dreadful because you realize (as your dear cartoonist recently has, despite months of denial) that if you want to prevent this stupid, racist, authoritarian, know-nothing, bloviating, self-satisfied monster from ruining whatever glimmers of hope were left for a grand nation in decline, you can’t count on a fatal unforced error, or a miraculous, organized, party-wide “What the heck were we thinking?” or a spontaneous renaissance of common human decency in the face of profound economic stress. No, if you want to prevent this political cartoon from jumping the wall from speculative fiction to reality, you will probably need to turn off your computer, march out of your comfort zone, and go convince somebody you have nothing in common with—and are actually a little afraid of—to vote for (God help me) Hillary Clinton instead of Donald Trump. And that is a dreadful and preposterous and pathetic state of affairs, and (incidentally) the most compelling reason to believe in the existence of extraterrestrial life, because if this is the only planet with sentient beings, that means we are literally the dumbest things in the history of the universe.
Can someone please draw this cartoon for me? I would do it myself, but I injured myself in a bathtub.
Submit your illustrations—gratuitous as they may be—to [email protected].
Update: The results are in! Thanks to Catie West, Peter Hannan, and Rob Boyle for showing us the windy face of bloviation: