Saturday, August 20, 2016


Thursday brought us one of the few delightful moments of the 2016 campaign: Comically grotesque statues of Donald Trump briefly went on display in five U.S. cities. The sculptures bore the title The Emperor Has No Balls.

The buzzkill came yesterday, when art critic Murray Whyte told us in The Guardian that laughing at the sculptures is morally incorrect:
Ageist and body-shaming Trump statue falls short as art and satire

... the stunted member of Trump’s anatomy to which the sculpture means to draw our attention is its undoing.

Emasculation, one can fairly say, is the least notable of Trump’s many shortcomings. No balls? For what presidential candidate in recent memory could that be further from the truth? This is the man who pondered openly how shooting someone on Fifth Avenue might help him poll better. Whatever Trump’s anatomical shortfalls, this is clearly not one of them, and the piece weakens itself with a contradiction to pitch a sophomoric joke.

... The piece, with its slumpy, distended belly, withered buttocks and sagging pectorals, crosses callously into generalized ageism and body-shaming; unlike the attempted caricaturization of Trump’s particular bits, this is no joke, but rather an expression of unmitigated contempt, and whatever else it does, it dissolves satirical intent in an instant.
Oh, please.

Here's why this is a crock: Trump is of the class of men -- rich businessmen -- who are presumed to be alpha males well into senescence. They flaunt their trophy wives and late-life offspring, they continue to issue dominance challenges to those they regard as lesser mortals, and the worst thing about it is that we accept their sense of their own male superiority at face value. Even Whyte, good progressive that he is, accepts it. ("No balls? For what presidential candidate in recent memory could that be further from the truth?")

The reality is that Trump, never a tough or courageous person even in his prime, is now a seventy-year-old man who sure looks as if he has a seventy-year-old's body.

There's no shame in that -- body changes come to us all if we live long enough. But Trump struts around denying the reality, and too many of us let him get away with it, just because he is (or seems to be) rich, and because he tells us he's a superior man.

And as Ruth Marcus notes, we let him get away with describing Hillary Clinton as a lesser being:
Donald Trump -- he who likes to fly home at night in the comfort of his own plane to sleep in the comfort of his own bed -- is at it again on the question of Hillary Clinton’s stamina, or alleged lack thereof.

“To defeat crime and radical Islamic terrorism in our country, to win trade in our country, you need tremendous physical and mental strength and stamina,” he said in Wisconsin. “Hillary Clinton doesn’t have that strength and stamina.”

And a day earlier, in case you missed it, “Importantly, she also lacks the mental and physical stamina to take on ISIS, and all the many adversaries we face.”

It’s obvious what’s going on here. The strength-stamina combo is a gender-age twofer, a double whack at Clinton for the price of one. Strength, what men have and women lack; stamina, with its intimations of go-all-night virility. Clinton, in this depiction, is both a weak girl and a dried-up old crone.

No matter that Trump is a year and four months older -- and, for that matter, endures a far less rigorous schedule.
The Emperor Has No Balls is for everyone who knows that Trump's ubermensch posturing is a huge lie. If that doesn't include Murray Whyte, that's his loss.

(Photo of New York Trump sculpture via Gothamist.)


Feud Turgidson said...

A perfectly disposal grotesquerie of a perfectly useless gross person.

IMO it qualifies as great political editorial cartoon art, just not located where we have come to expect it. WaPo Ann Telaes won the Pulitizer for her animated editorial cartoons. The artist who created No More Mister Any Balls is at right up there with the fellow who brings up Triumph the Insult Comic Dog, and they both deserve nomination this year.

CF2K said...

Trump's lack of moral self-awareness inoculates him against healthy shame regarding his behavior. Ridicule, however, is kryptonite to tyrants. That statue infuriates Trump. By contrast, after being confronted with thirty years of attempts at this sort of bodily ridicule, Hillary laughs it to scorn.

sdhays said...

Well said! The point isn't to critique Trump, it's to mock him where it hurts him the most in a way that having him retaliate (which is his usual response) would only open him to more ridicule. It's delicious!

It's not "body shaming" to portray him with a tiny tallywacker; it's mocking what seriously seems to be a prime motivator for all of his (wretched) behavior. He's a man who was so insecure about his tiny, infant-like hands (and what that implies) 30 years ago that he continued to taunt the person who had noted the smallness of his hands decades later. Who cares about the details of Donald Trump's kibble and bits? Only Donald Trump, and no matter what size his wee-wee is, it's clearly not as big as he would prefer it to be. He was also so insecure about going bald that he raped his wife when he was upset over some disappointing hair-replacement surgery. Portraying him bald would have put a cherry on top.

Ah, to be a fly on the wall when Trump found out about all this...

Ten Bears said...

It's not Trump. It's White America.

As accurate a characteristic as jacked up de-engineered suburban assault vehicles with tires the size of Volkswagens and the hood ornament a perfect rendition of the human female reproductive system.

Victor said...

IMO - there's nothing wrong with mocking a man who mocks others.

Dark Avenger said...

"For he(the Devil) is a proud spirit, and cannot bear scorn." Martin Luther

Philo Vaihinger said...

How do you suppose Hillary would look?

Glennis said...

Philo, though sexist rightwingers have been insulting Hillary's looks and body for years (I suggest you google "cankles"), she herself has not engaged in the kind of body-shaming, sexist, macho-posturing, personal insults that has been Mr. Trump's main tactic. He deserves having it backfire on him.

KenRight said...

On the other hand, what phenomenon explains the fake left's inoculation of Clinton, as expressed by the blogger Xymphora?

"Vote WWIII!
"Vote for the Lying Neoliberal Warmonger: It’s Important". The writer isn't stupid or uninformed or on the take, so the failure to recognize the immensity of the tragedy of a Clinton presidency, a trait riddled through the American 'left', is extremely disturbing, but par for the course for the most evil country in the universe. Even the progressives of an evil empire are blind bastards. It is not the right that defines how rotten you are, it is the left."

John Mendelssohn said...

Well said. Here are my own observations: