Donald Trump has been branded a bigot. Yet his acceptance speech suggests a radical rejection of heteronormativity and an embrace of radical queer identity politics.
By opposing both Islam and heterosexism, and using the phrase LGBTQ, Trump may have positioned himself as a woke nominee. For the sake of the unwoke reader who doesn’t know what woke means, MTV News defines it as “Being aware — specifically in reference to current events and cultural issues.” Urban dictionary says, “Being Woke means being aware. Knowing whats going on in the community. (Relating to Racism and Social Injustice).” If we include– as we must– homophobia in our definition of Social Injustice, we must also frame Trump’s seeming Islamophobia in its rightful woke context.
Trump clearly grounded his Islamophobia in a fierce, even fabulous, commitment to LGBTQ rights as he addressed the RNC Thursday night at Cleveland’s Quicken Loans arena:
Only weeks ago, in Orlando, Florida, 49 wonderful Americans were savagely murdered by an Islamic terrorist. This time, the terrorist targeted our LGBTQ community. As your president, I will do everything in my power to protect our LGBTQ citizens from the violence and oppression of a hateful foreign ideology.
A cursory textual analysis reveals the problematic nature of Trump’s argument. There is no proof that the man who murdered 49 people at the Pulse night club in Orlando was influenced by Islam. And Trump conflates Islam with an inherently violent and hateful ideology. Perhaps most troubling is Trump’s exoneration of the homophobia, violence and hate perpetuated by his own religion, Christianity, and by his very own running-mate, Indiana Governor Mike Pence, who self- identifies as “a Christian, a conservative, and a Republican, in that order.” And yet, despite his intersectional self-definition, Pence’s record, which includes pushing through the “Religious Freedom Restoration Act,” allowing businesses to turn away and corporation to deny health insurance to LGBTQ people, suggests he has not freed himself of the shackles of homophobia.
But Donald Trump, at the very least, is laying bare what we talk about when we talk about intersectional identity politics. And he should be commended for initiating this much needed conversation.
In order to further support his subversive rejection of heteronormativity , we must push Trump even further, empowering him to use his unique voice to give voice to the voiceless. Of course, we must do this in a way that honors his authenticity, uniqueness, and agency. What better way to do this than by turning to Trump’s own words and recasting them in the radical voice he has already discovered. Here is just one example of how he could apply his woke and intersectional framing to things he has already said:
“I will build a great wall safe space– and nobody builds safe spaces better than me, believe me –and I’ll build them very inexpensively. I will build a great, great safe space, and I will make straight, cis, able-bodies, men Mexico pay for that safe space. Mark my words.”
It is incumbent upon us to thoroughly reflect on, process and unpack the potential wokeness of Trump. And yet, we would also be remiss if we failed to interrogate this question. I will be offering more thoughts and sharing some concrete suggestion in a follow-up post.
In the mean time, I urge readers to share their own ideas on Twitter. Please tag me, @kthalps, and use the hashtag #WokeTrump.
Here is how it came to be that Larry David kind of sort of called The Donald a racist. When NBC announced that Trump would be hosting Saturday Night Live, several progressive organizations, 50 cultural and intellectual luminaries, and several members of the Hispanic Congressional Caucus condemned the decision. The National Hispanic Media Coalition teamed up with organizations like Moveon.org and the Justice League to organize a protest outside 30 Rock the night of the show. The DeportRacism.com PAC joined in, offering $5,000 to any audience member who would stand up during the show and call Trump a racist. As organizer Santiago Cejudo put it, “We’re hoping the $5,000 will help people on set or in the studio audience find the bravery to speak out loudly and help focus the national conversation on that we need to deport racism, not people.”
Towards the end of Trump’s painfully flat opening monologue, someone yelled out, “You’re a racist!” An obviously unfazed Trump responded to the clearly staged interruption, by asking, “Who the hell is… Oh, I knew this was going to happen.… Who is that?”
At this point a spotlight revealed that it was Larry David, who had appeared as Bernie Sanders in the opening skit. No longer in costume, David said again, “Trump’s a racist.”
“Why would he do that?” Trump asked.
“I heard if I did that, they’d give me $5,000,” said David with his signature combination of disinterest and distaste. Trump had the last word, saying, “As a businessman, I can fully respect that.”
Many in the media have praised David for his yelling, with some even confusing an obviously prepared exchange with a genuine disruption. Variety magazine said, “Larry David provided one of the few real moments of spontaneity in Saturday’s episode.” Complex magazine praised the “legitimate burn by Larry David (a.k.a. The God),” and described it as “fantastic…something of an Easter egg that none of us could have anticipated but were nonetheless praying for.” The Daily Beast described David’s yelling as one of the episode’s “scathing Trump critiques.”
It seems like every politician and countless celebrities have felt compelled to respond to Donald Trump’s absurd and offensive statements about women, immigrants and Mexicans. But Trump may have also unwittingly caused an anti-Trump creative renaissance by inspiring artists to express their outrage through their media of choice. And there is certainly a market for it.
This month, Funny or Die and George Lopez released a video called Mexican Donald Trump, which has already gotten over 850,000 hits on YouTube and FOD alone. And over the past week, Trump piñatas have been created and bashed all over the country.
Here are some the best creative and artistic responses to Trump to date.
1. The parody rap music video. The New York-based Latino comedy troupe Room 28 joined forces with the nonprofit organization Voto Latino Action Network to create a rap video which turns Big Sean’s hit “I Don’t F— With You,” into an anti-Trump anthem called “I Won’t Vote for You.” In the video, Trump (Jacob Berger) calls his chauffeur, (Jerry Diaz) by the wrong name and orders him to keep his “beady Mexican eyes on the road.” The chauffeur spends the rest of the video explaining, “I won’t vote for you. You keep saying stupid things, I ain’t voting for you. Your running isn’t funny anymore, I ain’t voting for you. There’s millions of Latino voices, Trump you’re through.”
2. The Trump piñata. At a piñata store in the border city of Reynosa, Dalton Avalos Ramirez created a papier-mache piñata of Trump. Ramirez, who displayed his first model in June, explained that the idea was inspired by “the hatred Trump expressed for the Mexican people.” And the feeling seems to be mutual, given that “people want to burn the piñatas, they want to break them.” Various other artists have taken up the craft of the Trump piñata. A quick look at eBay reveals at least 10 different Trump piñatas, ranging in price from from $13.99 to $205. St. Louis celebrated Mexican Independence Day by beating “El Trumpo” over the weekend and Trump piñatas were selling like hotcakes in LA ahead of Wednesday’s GOP debate. And sure enough, a protester showed up outside the Reagan Library with a piñata.
3. The Donald Trump punching bag. For Trump haters with attachment issues, there is a great alternative to the use-once, wham-bam-thank-you-ma’am piñata: the Donald Trump punching bag. As Mexican-born 3D artist Fernando Sosa writes of his creation, “unlike pinatas, this guy collapses for portability and is re-usable unless you puncture him with something sharp.” The punching bags are selling at $59.99.
4. The way-ahead-of-its-time Sesame Street video. Sesame Street has always been at the vanguard of pedagogy and education, so it comes as no surprise that the program was mocking Trump way before it was cool to do so. Back in 2005, the show skewered the real estate tycoon with the character Donald Grump, in an episode called “Grouch Apprentice.” Oscar the Grouch’s “Grump! Grump! Grump!” cheer even foreshadows the cheering crowds that meet the Donald today at his political events. Donald Grump appears from out of a garbage can with bright orange hair and introduces himself as, “’Donald Grump, and I have more trash than any of yous so, na na na na na.” Within less than a minute he cans (pun intended) two characters with his signature, “you’re fired!” line.
5. The Donald Trump circus peanut. Showing his signature empathy, humility and firm grasp on reality, Donald Trump stated, “It’s very hard for them [his female critics] to attack me on looks, because I’m so good-looking.” So, it’s fair to say that Donald would describe himself as looking “good enough to eat.” And he’s not the only one to think that. Brooklyn-based Lauren Garfinkel included Trump in her edible government collection, which she describes as, “a culinary exploration of people and events that shape American politics, and a nod to the old adage, you are what you eat.” Continue reading “8 Most Wildly Creative Responses to Donald Trump Insanity”→
Mexican-American actress Jessica Alba chose to launch her new beauty line at a Trump hotel because not everyone has the radical, separatist, Young Lordsian identity politics of Ricky Martin, Salma Hayek, or Pitbull.
Alba, 34, famous for her roles in Fantastic Four and Sin City, launched her Honest Beauty cosmetics and skincare line on Wednesday night at the Trump SoHo Hotel in Manhattan. Alba co-founded Honest Company, which sells diapers, bath and body products, in 2011. And just last week, that company was hit with a lawsuit over claims that its sunscreen is defective.
But, as far as I know, nobody has brought up a less burning, if you will, but still troubling Jessica-Alba-Business-related question: why would you choose to hold an event for anything at any place associated with Donald Trump? Why would anyone do that? The nice thing about the Donald, is that he is such a renaissance man of hate, you don’t have to be Latino to be offended by him. Indeed, model Chrissy Teigen, actors Jeffrey Wright, Aaron Paul, Rosie O’Donnell, singer Neil Young, and rapper Flo Rida are but a few of the non-Latino celebrities who have condemned the mogul.
But Trump’s sexism and more generalized racism pale in comparison to his anti-immigrant and particularly anti-Latino and even more particularly anti-Mexican vitriol and policy plans. Among Trump’s high profile Latino critics, journalist Jorge Ramos, who has been dubbed the Walter Cronkite of Latino America, is probably the most politically informed and grounded. But you don’t have to be an immigrants-rights advocate-intellectual to be upset by what Trump has to say about Mexicans and Latinos, which is why actors Eva Longoria (Mexican-American), Salma Hayek (Mexican), America Ferrera (Honduran-American), comedian George Lopez (Mexican-American), singers Shakira (Colombian), Ricky Martin (Puerto Rican) and rapper Pitbull (Cuban-American) have criticized Trump.
essica Alba has been accused of distancing herself from her Latina identity (or lack thereof), over comments like,
Alba is my last name and I’m proud of that. But that’s it. My grandparents were born in California, the same as my parents, and though I may be proud of my last name, I’m American.
I had a very American upbringing, I feel American, and I don’t speak Spanish. So, to say that I’m a Latina actress, OK, but it’s not fitting; it would be insincere.
My grandfather was the only Mexican at his college, the only Hispanic person at work and the only one at the all-white country club. He tried to forget his Mexican roots, because he never wanted his kids to be made to feel different in America. He and my grandmother didn’t speak Spanish to their children. Now, as a third-generation American, I feel as if I have finally cut loose.”
As a non-Latina, I’m certainly not in a position to lecture anyone about how to be a good or authentic Latina. And I can’t force anyone to speak out against Donald Trump, though refraining from mocking him would be nearly impossible for me personally. But is it asking too much to hope and expect that celebrities, regardless of their ethnicity, hold their events at the venues that are not owned by Trump?
Bill Maher recently described Donald Trump as “the white Kanye.” But Maher, who’s not known for his in-depth hip-hop knowledge, is a little off with that comparison. If anything, Trump is more like Kanye West’s sometime frenemy 50 Cent. The overlap between the two larger-than-life figures is so far-reaching that it’s a little eerie. Come to think of it, have you ever actually seen 50 Cent and Trump in the same place at the same time? The Nightly Show‘s Mike Yard called Trump “the 50 Cent of the Republican Party” this week. We’ll go even farther: We propose that the Donald and 50 are actually the same person. Here’s our airtight case:
1. They both represent Queens.
Not only did Trump and 50 grow up in the same New York borough – they’re both from Jamaica, Queens. To be fair, the two men are products of very different parts of the neighborhood. Trump was raised in the bucolic Jamaica Estates, a moneyed community founded at the turn of the century, while 50 Cent grew up in working-class South Jamaica.
2. They’re both renaissance men of business.
Trump followed in his wealthy father’s footsteps, working for his old man’s real estate firm, which he eventually took over and expanded. In addition to owning worldwide residential real estate, hotels, resorts and, of course, golf courses, the Donald has developed products and ventures including Trump Restaurants (located in Trump Tower and consisting of Trump Buffet, Trump Catering, Trump Ice Cream Parlor, and Trump Bar), GoTrump (an online travel website), Donald J. Trump Signature Collection (menswear, men’s accessories and watches), Donald Trump the Fragrance, Trump magazine, Trump Golf, Trump Chocolate, Trump home (home furnishings), Trump Productions (a television production company), Trump Institute, Trump the Game (a 1989 board game), Donald Trump’s Real Estate Tycoon (a business simulation game), Trump Books, Trump Model Management, Trump Shuttle (an airline), Trump Ice (bottled water), Trump Vodka and Trump Steaks. And, until recently, The Apprentice on NBC!
50 Cent, meanwhile, followed his late mother into the drug trade around age 12. Beyond his own lucrative rap career, he’s founded G-Unit Records and G-Unit Clothing. Like Trump, he dipped into the beverage business, releasing an enhanced drink called Formula 50 with Vitamin Water. On the olfactory front, he joined forces with Right Guard deodorant to put his name on Pure 50 RGX body spray. He tried, and failed, to penetrate the prophylactic market with Magic Stick Condoms. And he had his own Apprentice-esque show called 50 Cent: The Money and The Power on MTV.
3. They’re both bestselling authors.
Donald Trump has written over a dozen books, including the bestseller Trump: The Art of the Deal. Less well-known but equally transformative titles include Think BIG and Kick Ass in Business and Life, Trump: How to Get Rich and Trump: The Best Golf Advice I Ever Received.
50 Cent launched his own publishing imprint, G-Unit Books, and is the author of successful volumes like The Fiftieth Law, Formula 50: A 6-Week Workout and Nutrition Plan That Will Transform Your Life, and 50 X 50: 50 Cent in His Own Words. Unlike Trump, however, 50 has also branched out into fiction, writing novels like Death Before Dishonor and Harlem Heat.
4. They both love to brag about how rich they are.
It would take all year to compile all of Trump’s boasts, so let’s focus on four gems – all taken from his presidential announcement speech last month. “I’m really rich, I’m really rich,” he observed at one point. “I’ll show you in a second. I’m not saying that in a bragging way.” And: “I’m proud of my net worth. I’ve done an amazing job.” And: “I have the best [golf] courses in the world.” Also: “One of the big banks came to me and said, ‘Donald, you don’t have enough borrowings. Could we loan you $4 billion?’ I said, ‘I don’t need it.’ ”
50 Cent is proud of his net worth, too. Since we stuck to four examples for Trump, we’ll do the same here. From “I Get Money”: “Have a baby by me, baby, be a millionaire!/I’ll write the check before the baby comes, who the fuck cares?” From “Piggy Bank”: “Clickity-clank, clickity-clank/The money goes into my piggy bank.” From “Money”: “I’m eating, I get money…I shit money/It smells like Benjamins, it boosts my adrenaline.” From “Straight to the Bank”: “I’m laughing straight to the bank with this…./I keep nothing but hundred dollar bills in the bankroll/I got the kind of money that the bank can’t hold.”
5. They both declared bankruptcy.
What makes all of this bragging kind of awkward is when you have to declare bankruptcy. Donald Trump’s companies did so four times: Trump’s Taj Mahal casino in Atlantic City in 1991, Trump Plaza Hotel in Atlantic City in 1992, Trump Hotels and Casinos Resorts in 2004 and Trump Entertainment Resorts in 2009. Whoops!
Funnily enough, even though Forbes estimated that 50 Cent had a net worth of $150 million just this May, he had to file for bankruptcy in July. Coincidentally, his financial woes occurred right around the time a jury was determining how much money he would have to pay in damages to a woman whose sex tape he allegedly posted online without her permission. The jury decided on $5 million. In response, 50’s lawyer said his client’s net worth is just 4.4 million! What are the odds? So how could a man worth so relatively little have such a brag-worthy lifestyle? The rapper testified that he borrowed his cars and jewelry. They were lies! All lies!
6. They both have lots of beefs with other famous people.
The lawsuit above was the end result of an old feud between 50 and Rick Ross: The only reason 50 leaked the sex tape at all is because it allegedly featured Ross’ ex. 50 Cent has also had public beefs with rappers from Ja Rule to Fat Joe to Jadakiss to Cam’Ron to Lil Wayne to his own former protégés the Game and Young Buck …and many more.
We’ll never know exactly how many people Trump has picked fights with, but a few of his targets include President Obama, Rosie O’Donnell, Russell Brand, Jay Leno, Cher, Neil Patrick Harris, Lawrence O’Donnell, Arianna Huffington, Jon Stewart – and most recently, John McCain. Last weekend, Trump went after the Arizona Senator for having been a prisoner of war (classy!): “He’s not a war hero… I like people who weren’t captured.” On Tuesday, South Carolina Senator Lindsey Graham responded by calling Trump a jackass. Hours later, Trump gave out Graham’s private phone number during a speech.
Trump is also in a public spat with the entire country of Mexico after his tasteless anti-Latino comments. So, there’s that.
7. They’re both Republicans . . . sort of.
Donald Trump is currently seeking the Republican Party’s 2016 presidential nomination. During a speech delivered from the border at Laredo, Texas, on Thursday, Trump said, “Look, I’m a Republican . . . I’m a conservative. I’m running. I’m in first place by a lot, it seems, according to all the polls. I want to run as a Republican. I think I’ll get the nomination.” But loyalty is a two-way street, as Trump made clear in an interview with The Hill on Wednesday: “The RNC has not been supportive. They were always supportive when I was a contributor. I was their fair-haired boy. The RNC has been, I think, very foolish.” A third-party run is a possibility if he fails to secure the GOP nomination.
50 is also a man of political contradictions, and is probably the only rumored Republican to make a PSA in support of Occupy Wall Street. He also espoused some Jerry Falwell-esque views on Hurricane Katrina in 2005, saying, “The New Orleans disaster was meant to happen. It was an act of God.” But that’s nothing compared to the praise 50 heaped on George W. Bush the same year, calling Bush “incredible . . . a gangsta. I wanna meet George Bush, just shake his hand and tell him how much of me I see in him.”
Republicans are notorious for using artists’ music without their permission, sometimes hijacking songs critical of Republican values. During his 1984 presidential campaign, Ronald Reagan tried to use Bruce Springsteen’s “Born in the U.S.A.” – somehow missing its critique of American exceptionalism and militarism. Springsteen said no, but that didn’t stop Reagan from quoting it in a stump speech.
Cut to 2015, and Donald Trump has set his presidential announcement to Neil Young’s “Rockin’ in the Free World“ – a pretty clear indictment of George Bush the first – prompting the Canadian rocker to chastise the Donald and endorse Bernie Sanders.
To help other Republicans who may be struggling to choose an appropriate campaign song, we’ve put together a list of tracks that would work well for some of the 2016 presidential hopefuls.
Jeb Bush: “Chain Gang,” Sam Cooke
Bush, one of the frontrunners in the crowded GOP field, has this advice for Americans: Work longer hours! Oh, and by the way, don’t ask for overtime. This song seems to embody his ethos, which – as you can imagine – has gone over super well with already overworked voters.
Ben Carson: “Hands,” Jewel
Carson isn’t only a presidential hopeful and Tea Party darling – he’s also a renowned neurosurgeon who wrote a 1996 memoir called Gifted Hands: The Ben Carson Story (which became a made-for-TV movie with Cuba Gooding Jr.). Carson is almost certainly not going to be president, so Gifted Hands might be his most lasting legacy. Play him out, Jewel.
Speaking at a Strafford County Republican Committee meeting in New Hampshire in March, Cruz vilified President Obama and the Democrats – as is his wont – and described the world as being “on fire.” When a three-year-old girl from the audience asked the senator, “The world is on fire?” Cruz responded by surely terrifying her: “Yes!” he exclaimed. “Your world is on fire! But you know what? Your mommy is here and everyone is here to make sure that the world you grow up in is even better.”
“Your World Is on Fire” unfortunately hasn’t been recorded yet, so this will have to do in the meantime.
Carly Fiorina: “Got Your Money,” Ol’ Dirty Bastard Featuring Kelis
With no political experience under her belt, Fiorina likes to sell herself as a good businesswoman. Unfortunately, her track record is so bad, a high-level former campaign staffer once said, “I’d rather go to Iraq than work for Carly Fiorina again.” And a dozen people who worked on Fiorina’s unsuccessful 2010 Senate campaign have said they wouldn’t work for her presidential campaign, because she didn’t pay them. In all fairness, Fiorina, who is worth $120 million, had other financial obligations after her Senate bid: She repaid herself $1.2 million and then bought a $6 million five-acre waterfront estate in Virginia.
Bobby Jindal: “The Exorcist” Theme Song
Plenty of dudes brag about college exploits. Jindal is no different – except the wild time he talks about involves an apparent exorcism. This song will remind people of the Louisiana governor’s healing powers.
George Pataki: “Say My Name,” Destiny’s Child
Pataki is almost as memorable and charismatic as Anne Veal of Arrested Development. (“Who?”) This song may be the former New York governor’s only shot at fixing his name recognition problem.
Rick Perry: “Oops!. . .I Did It Again,” Britney Spears
If there’s anyone this Britney classic would be appropriate for, it’s Perry, who during a 2011 Republican debate couldn’t remember the third government agency he would absolutely, positively, most definitely cut as president. “I will tell you, it’s three agencies of government when I get there that are gone. Commerce, education and the, um, what’s the third one there?” he said. “Oops.”
Donald Trump: “Hot Stepper,” Ini Kamoze
It’s grandiose, inappropriate and awkward – yet undeniably amusing. It’s like it was handcrafted for the Donald’s campaign.
Donald Trump may be asking the FBI for protection against Joaquin Guzman Loera, the notorious Mexican drug lord known as el Chapo, who recently escaped from prison, again. But The Donald has already been attacked by a more formidable adversary who also hails from The Mexico. And his weapon of choice? Not bullets, not machetes, not gruesome torture…… Butt plugs!
Meet Fernando Sosa, the 32-year old 3D artist based in Orlando, Florida, who was born and raised in Puebla Mexico. Sosa, who came to the United States when he was 11, was enraged when he heard Donald Trump spew his racist vitriol about Mexican rapists. So he decided he would turn his anger into a product… a butt plug, made of “fully colored material with a coarse finish and a delicate feel,” more specifically, as his website explains. In case you don’t know, a butt plug is a sex toy that does exactly what it sounds like it does.
In an interview with me on this week’s The Katie Halper Show, Sosa explained that he was initially incredulous that Trump had said what he had about Mexicans.
In case you missed it, the Donald peppered his presidential announcement speech with the following:
When Mexico sends its people, they’re not sending their best. They’re not sending you. They’re not sending you. They’re sending people that have lots of problems, and they’re bringing those problems with us. They’re bringing drugs. They’re bringing crime. They’re rapists.
I asked Sosa how he felt when he heard that and he said, “I was really enraged and I was like, what better way to insult him back than to make a Donald Trump Butt plug.”