Naked Trump public art not so funny
Well, darn it, I’d like to avoid sounding humorless just because I’m not laughing at something that so many others find hilarious.
Most of the time, I don’t care about such verdicts on my gift for mirth. I’m a liberal columnist in the heartland. I’m a living punch line.
However, we are in interesting times, my friends – a milestone year in which one of the two major presidential candidates is a woman. I tend to note this on occasion, which is making my reader mail and Twitter feed a fascinating endeavor. I hear from many other female columnists and pundits that this latest wave of misogyny is our new normal – which is a lot like our old normal, but with more pictures.
I have noted an uptick in certain proclivities here and there. For example, never before have so many scared little men felt the need to share their fantasies about what is and isn’t going on in my sex life.
Many of them are young enough to be my sons. Lovely. I once, and only once, responded to one of them after his last name looked familiar. I did a quick search on social media and asked whether his mother knew he was writing such things to a columnist she not only follows on Facebook but also engages with in public discussion threads on her wall.
“No,” he wrote, “but I just told her and she said she would love to meet you.”
So, OK. I’m a little touchy maybe. Let’s plow ahead, shall we?
Last week, Cleveland Heights – my long-ago neighborhood that is a 15-minute drive from my neighborhood now in Cleveland – was one of five lucky cities to briefly host an oh-so-public sculpture by an artist known as “Ginger.”
That’s how I first heard about it: Public art! So far, so good. I love public art.
Not always, I now want to stress.
Ginger had molded 300 pounds of clay and silicone into a life-size caricature of a naked Donald Trump.
Trump is this year’s other major presidential candidate. Someday I’m going to be able to say that out loud without grasping for the nearest chair back to keep me upright.
Anyway, this statue – copies of which also debuted in New York, San Francisco, Los Angeles and Seattle – was blotchy and veiny and potbellied. It also was missing a body part or two that most likely made many a man wince and check his zipper, much like the way some men do upon delivering their male puppies to the vet for neutering. I’m told it’s involuntary and instinctual, and I’m all for ending that conversation right there.
Washington Post reporter Peter Holley, who interviewed Ginger, wrote that the Las Vegas-based artist “has a long history of designing monsters for haunted houses and horror movies.” After seeing Ginger’s Trump, I believe him.
More from reporter Holley:
“For much of the past year, Donald Trump proved uniquely untouchable, a political force of such mind-boggling invulnerability that he even bragged about attracting voters after hypothetically shooting someone on Fifth Avenue.
“Hoping to strip away the Teflon Don’s legendary confidence to reveal the fleshy mortal beneath the expensive suits and long ties, members of the anarchist collective INDECLINE decided they would showcase the aspirant president in the most humiliating way they could imagine: without his clothes.”
So there you go.
The life-size naked Trump is protected speech and an exercise of artistic license. Judging by media coverage and social media posts, it was also quite the attraction while it lasted. Countless passers-by took selfies or posed for others holding the camera so they could use their hands to cup its rubbery parts in ways I wish I could unsee. I don’t want to know why.
What I do wonder is what we liberals think we gain by behaving like the man whose arsenal of hateful rhetoric and illogical thinking has made him the most dangerous man running for president in our lifetimes. His entire platform is built on mockery.
Already we are worrying aloud about the long-term impact of his campaign, even if he loses. That’s a conversation better engaged on higher ground – and yes, I know how obnoxious that sounds.
But there I go.
We know how this works. It’s only a matter of time before we see something else awful and naked mocking Hillary Clinton. It will feel familiar and personal to every woman and girl unlucky enough to see it, because our bodies have always been a punch line for men who think like Donald Trump.
This time, it will also feel deserved because too many good people were in for the laughs.