NEW YORK CITY — I started unfollowing people on Facebook who post anything about Donald Trump. The very real possibility that this is the last normal summer I’ll have has dawned on me and — let’s face it— the theater of online outrage about the guy is about as empty and toothless as his followers. I’d rather have a few more weeks of peace before whatever is going to happen to this country happens.
You can (and should) be offended and shocked that Trump did X, Y and Z, but for the overwhelming majority of you it’s all theater. You’re trapped within a narrative that has two sides. One side supports Trump because he’s as trashy, hateful and loud as they are. The other side shares videos of “Jon Stewart’s Eviscerating Takedown of Trump no. 9,706” and thinks that’ll suffice as a meaningful political act. This isn’t discourse as much as it is smug, self-satisfied people throwing their own shit at each other. The end result is that Trump becomes a mind virus, inescapable even if you’re actively trying to avoid the guy. In a way this sad, tiny little man ends up occupying your life and eroding your mental agency.
So I’m a little down on Indecline’s naked statues of Donald Trump. I get it. It’s a dick joke. He acts all tough, but he doesn’t have a penis. Very funny. Post your selfie with it to Instagram and pat yourself on the back. You’re David and your cell phone camera is your slingshot. Indecline paired the statue with other installations, such as a list of names of African Americans who have been killed by the police, but those don’t appeal to the vanity of the viewer so they don’t get noticed. Journalists can’t use those to tweet godawful jokes like the one below.
NYC parks department on naked Trump statue: “NYC Parks stands firmly against any unpermitted erection in city parks, no matter how small.”
— Josh Dawsey (@jdawsey1) August 18, 2016
But the sculpture was born of clay (as we all were) and so CFile feels validated in offering an opinion. I think the sculptures illustrate how painfully broken everything is. Aside from the suicidally depressing realization that the narrative that’s gained the most traction against Trump is a dick joke, there’s some tedious fallout. “Where’s the Hillary statue?!” some moron posts, apparently assuming that political art is like ordering your favorite cheeseburger from a fast food drive-thru. I’d bet my savings that within a week the Right will come out with a horribly misogynist sculpture of Hillary, which they will claim is in the interest of balance. There are also politically minded people operating from the higher levels of woke nirvana who want you to know that Trump’s statue is an example of fat shaming. The dick joke now has an essay-length explanation of why you’re a horrible person for laughing at it.
I’m in agreement with the latter group, even though I don’t share their zeal for posting sermons to Facebook. We should do better than “lol he’s a bad person because he’s fat.” We’re taking the express elevator down to Trump’s brand of discourse, ironically becoming part of the national ego disease that gave Trump the Republican nomination. I’m generally supportive of brazen, middle finger punk art like Indecline, but the way this story blew up only highlights the existential lows of this awful, awful election year. That’s not entirely the collective’s fault, but they’ve nevertheless become a symbol of it. There should be a meaningful counter-narrative, something that preserves our dignity in the face of so much hate. Unfortunately we’re not equipped for it because we’re not a dignified people, clay or not.
Bill Rodgers is the Managing Editor of cfile.daily.
Do you love or loathe this work of contemporary art? Let us know in the comments.