— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) April 21, 2017
by Brandon Soderberg
Central to the Trump Regime is a shitty State Fair quality to how it goes about things, first seen during those raggedy, redneck-y rallies and on into the Republican National Convention where among others, Scott Baio and Antonio Sabato Jr. spoke, and now, during his presidency, where Trump memorabilia is for sale and/or offered as incentive to give him money or say, during his speech to Congress where a war widow and someone diagnosed with Pompe Disease were doted on for far, far too long, morphed into suffering props.
The latest and greatest example is a rather “Tim & Eric”-like video posted to Trump’s Twitter on Friday welcoming back to the United States, Aya Hijazi, an aid worker who has been imprisoned in Egypt for three years, along with four others which Trump apparently “intervened” to bring home. Trump posted it along with the words “WELCOME HOME, AYA! #GodBlessTheUSA” and the American flag emoji (the others also brought back to the U.S. don’t get shout-outs).
This bonkers video begins with a computer-generated American flag flapping set to Lee Greenwood’s ‘God Bless the USA,’ and then we get a screenshot of a Washington Post article on Hijazi’s rescue (it’s cropped so that it’s hard to tell it came from WaPo) and then some video clips and mostly stills of Hijazi in the Oval Office with Trump and thee Donald’s shit-eating, world-fucking grin for about two tedious minutes. Towards the end, a “Ken Burns effect” zoom-out that reveals a rather low-resolution image of the American flag and above that in all caps, weirdly punctuated, “On behalf of the Trump administration and the United States of America, Welcome home Aya Hijazi! President Donald J. Trump.”
This aesthetic, this accidental net art has become crucial to Trump and the alt-right. You see it in the Geocities-like quality of Breitbart News’ website and in the noisy, screenshots-of-screenshots-of-screenshots memes passed around Reddit and Twitter and in alt-right wannabe Mike Huckabee’s increasingly unhinged and unfunny tweets which try and fuse the sick burns of online dragging culture with dad jokes (“Got haircut today;asked for the Kim Jung Un look; Barber refused-said it was dangerous to cut hair with a lawn mower,” Huckabee tweeted earlier this month).
In terms of manipulative bullshit so po-faced it couldn’t be serious or whether it is or isn’t doesn’t really matter anymore, it all sits somewhere between that painting of Obama stepping on the Constitution as the founding fathers look on all-pissed off (and a down-and-out white man sits on a bench nearby, dejected) and the Sept. 11 remix of DJ Sammy’s ‘Heaven’ where the trance banger is slowed down into a torch song and interrupted by a little girl talking to her “daddy” who died in the Twin Towers, simultaneously communicating sincerity (an almost “cute” or “twee” approach to aesthetics where it looking fucking hideous connotes honesty) and irony (a glib detachment where nothing matters so fuck it bro who cares how it sounds or looks, you get the point).
But oh man, in this video today, propaganda and kitsch are not only married, but in a kind of “Point Break”-style, bro’d up, hand-holding free-fall skydive with one another. It is too much: shoddy, half-assed, thoroughly Trumpian.