The king of satire somehow misses the mark on Showtime's "Our Cartoon President."
The show's inconsistency in terms of comedy—or lack thereof—is understandably a problem of morality...
When Stephen Colbert's "Our Cartoon President" (Showtime) isn't entirely revolting, it's only mildly funny. Aside from Jeff Bergman's Donald Trump—a decent, if not admirable impression—there's little to no comedic relief strong enough to pacify the reality that there's a Cheeto-in-Chief in the White House.
As much as we all love Colbert's brand of satire and political commentary, how many Americans want to watch a Colbert-led writers' room lampoon the president and his wife? It's a sad state of affairs when watching an animation of America's president engenders melancholy (and slight disgust) more than it does entertainment. Watching "Our Cartoon President" is like being in a fever dream where everything and everyone is soaking in radioactive waste; it's a weird funhouse mirror held in front of Trump's current presidency, and it's grueling to watch simply because the real thing isn't funny at all.
'Our Cartoon President'Showtime
It would be another story if Colbert wrote an essay or short story titled "Our Cartoon President" with illustrations—for those who desire the visual emasculation of Trump, as Colbert's cartoon anatomically does—something that critically bemoans Trump's presidency without exacerbating all the qualities that make him so vile in the first place. The thing is, watching Trump in real life is, well, unpleasant. This man, after all, represents our country, what we stand for as Americans; the very fact that he stands as our leader is absurd.
Colbert, unfortunately, doesn't nail the absurdity of his fictional universe. The jokes and puns are stale like the last piece of bread in a bag, squished to the very back of your cupboard; like stale 10-year-old saltine crackers you eat anyway because you're out of ramen; it's like any unappetizing food ever. "Our Cartoon President" is a 30-minute stomach ache, 1) on account of the intellectual labor gone into scrutinizing the very things that allowed Trump to win and, 2) because HOLY CRAP, watching Melania in bed with Trump is the saddest thing ever. Too many things are at play all at once: Melania's disgust for Trump is even more apparent in the cartoon; Trump's sons are embarrassingly infantile (seriously, it's almost cruel); Fox News offers additional exposition, in case the other jokes about Trump being awful don't land; and Ted Cruz and Mike Pence rival each other in the Creepy Olympics.
'Our Cartoon President'Showtime
The show's inconsistency in terms of comedy—or lack thereof—is understandably a problem of morality: If you humanize Trump, you legitimize his divisive, racist, sexist, and overall, ignorant rhetoric. If you hyperbolize Trump, you essentially lessen the real-world terror of his ACTUAL presidency. Animating him and his family is the artistic equivalent of giving Chucky a soul.
Again, this project feels like revenge porn, a feverish cartoon trying to make a comedy of the man who supports militarizing American schools. Colbert wants to grab (or perhaps wring) Trump by the…umm…ears, shouting "You suck!" and instead, settles for tickling his all-American gut. The Trumpisms you've come to expect in reality are formulaic in the show: How many times can the joke be, simply, that Trump is a slouching oaf with sons who follow suit? You want to be in support of Colbert's satire, wishing this show could make you hold your sides in laughter; instead, you find yourself in the fetal position, holding your sides after a joke about Ted Cruz refusing to brush his teeth is made for the fifth time. (Folks can belabor the president in the privacy of their own homes without the assistance of a cartoon, right?)
Critically challenging the president, his team of limp benefactors, and Russia (his favorite country in the whole wide world!) should not mean ironically using Trump's trademark antagonism to subvert his presidency and emasculate him as a man. "Our Cartoon President" undeniably understands why Trump is no victor to many Americans but fails to scrutinize his cartoon supporters and the cartoon world that put him in office. If there's anything President Donald Trump has taught us as Americans—you can be gross, you can be incompetent, you can be ignorant, and you can still win.
POP⚡ DUST Score: ⚡⚡
Shaun Harris is a poet, freelance writer, and editor published in avant-garde, feminist journals. Lover of warm-toned makeup palettes, psych-rock, and Hilton Als. Her work has allowed her to copyedit and curate content for various poetry organizations in the NYC area.
POP⚡ DUST | Read More About Film/TV...
- 'Our Cartoon President' review: Colbert's Trump satire lacks bite ›
- Our Cartoon President Review: Showtime's Trump Cartoon | IndieWire ›
- Review: 'Our Cartoon President' Misses a Huuuge Target - The New ... ›
- Why 'Our Cartoon President' Is TERRIBLE - (REVIEW/RANT ... ›
- Stephen Colbert's Our Cartoon President takes some ... ›
Let's take a look at Nazi-inspired fashion.
Villains always have the best outfits.
From Darth Vader's polished black space armor to The Joker's snazzy purple suit, bad guys always seem to show up their protagonists in the fashion department.
Way more handsome than Batman. static.giantbomb.com
But could there possibly be a real world equivalent to the type of over-the-top villain fashion often found in fiction? It would have to be sleek and imposing, austere and dangerous. Probably black.
Maybe it's him. Maybe it's fascist ideology.
Let's call a spade a spade. From an aesthetic standpoint, the Nazi SS outfit is very well-designed. The long coat tied around the waist with a buckle portrays a slim, sturdy visage. The leather boots and matching cap look harsh and powerful. The emblem placements on the lapel naturally suggest rank and authority. And the red armband lends a splash of color to what would otherwise be a dark monotone. If the Nazi uniform wasn't so closely tied with the atrocities they committed during WWII, it wouldn't seem out of place at Fashion Week. Perhaps not too surprising, considering many of the uniforms were made by Hugo Boss.
Pictured: A real thing Hugo Boss did. i.imgur.com
Of course, today, Nazi uniform aesthetics are inseparable from the human suffering doled out by their wearers. In most circles of civilized society, that's more than enough reason to avoid the garb in any and all fashion choices. But for some, that taboo isn't a hindrance at all–if anything, it's an added benefit.
As a result, we have Nazi chic, a fashion trend centered around the SS uniform and related Nazi imagery.
History of Nazi Chic
For the most part, Nazi chic is not characterized by Nazi sympathy. Rather, Nazi chic tends to be associated with counterculture movements that view the use of its taboo imagery as a form of shock value, and ironically, anti-authoritarianism.
The movement came to prominence in the British punk scene during the mid-1970s, with bands like the Sex Pistols and Siouxsie and the Banshees displaying swastikas on their attire alongside other provocative imagery.
Very rotten, Johnny. i.redd.it
Around this time, a film genre known as Nazisploitation also came to prominence amongst underground movie buffs. A subgenre of exploitation and sexploitation films, Naziploitation movies skewed towards D-grade fare, characterized by graphic sex scenes, violence, and gore. Plots typically surrounded female prisoners in concentration camps, subject to the sexual whims of evil SS officers, who eventually escaped and got their revenge. However, the most famous Nazisploitation film, Ilsa, She Wolf of the SS, flipped the genders.
The dorm room poster that will ensure you never get laid. images-na.ssl-images-amazon.com
Ilsa was a female SS officer and the victims were men. She spent much of the movie wearing her Nazi uniform in various states, sexually abusing men all the while. As such, Ilsa played into dominatrix fantasies. The movie was a hit on the grindhouse circuit, inspiring multiple sequels and knock-offs and solidifying Nazi aesthetics as a part of the BDSM scene.
Since then, Nazi chic fashion has been employed by various artists, from Madonna to Marilyn Manson to Lady Gaga, and has shown up in all sorts of places from leather clubs to character designs in video games and anime.
Lady Gaga looking SS-uper. nyppagesix.files.wordpress.com
Nazi Chic in Asia
Nazi chic has taken on a life of its own in Asia. And unlike Western Nazi chic, which recognizes Nazism as taboo, Asian Nazi chic seems entirely detached from any underlying ideology.
A large part of this likely has to do with the way that Holocaust education differs across cultures. In the West, we learn about the Holocaust in the context of the Nazis committing horrific crimes against humanity that affected many of our own families. The Holocaust is presented as personal and closer to our current era than we might like to think. It is something we should "never forget." Whereas in Asia, where effects of the Holocaust weren't as prominent, it's simply another aspect of WWII which, in and of itself, was just another large war. In other words, Nazi regalia in Asia might be viewed as simply another historical military outfit, albeit a particularly stylish one.
In Japan, which was much more involved with WWII than any other Asian country, Nazi chic is usually (but not always) reserved for villainous representations.
OF COURSE. i.imgur.com
That being said, J-Pop groups like Keyakizaka46 have publicly worn Nazi chic too, and the phenomena isn't limited to Japan.
In South Korea, Indonesia, and Thailand, Nazi imagery has shown up in various elements of youth culture, completely void of any moral context. For instance, in Indonesia, a Hitler-themed fried chicken restaurant opened in 2013. And in Korea, K-Pop groups like BTS and Pritz have been called out for propagating Nazi chic fashion. Usually such incidents are followed by public apologies, but the lack of historical understanding makes everything ring hollow.
So the question then: is Nazi chic a bad thing?
The answer is not so black and white.
On one hand, seeing Nazi chic on the fashion scene may dredge up painful memories for Holocaust survivors and those whose family histories were tainted. In this light, wearing Nazi-inspired garb, regardless of intent, seems disrespectful and antagonistic. Worse than that, it doesn't even seem like a slight against authority so much as a dig at actual victims of genocide.
But on the other hand, considering the fact that even the youngest people who were alive during WWII are edging 80, "forgetting the Holocaust" is a distinct possibility for younger generations. In that regard, perhaps anything that draws attention to what happened, even if it's simply through the lens of "this outfit should be seen as offensive," might not be entirely bad. This, compounded by the fact that Nazi chic is not commonly associated with actual Nazi or nationalistic sentiments, might be enough to sway some people–not necessarily to wear, like, or even appreciate its aesthetics, but rather to understand its place within counterculture.
Ultimately, one's views on Nazi chic likely come down to their own personal taste and sensibilities. For some, Nazi chic is just a style, an aesthetic preference for something that happens to be mired in historical horror. For others, the shadow of atrocity simply hangs too strong.
- Nazi Chic? ›
- 'Vanderpump Rules' star Stassi under fire for 'Nazi Chic' photo ... ›
- Opinion: why there's nothing cool about the Nazi chic trend ... ›
- Asia's disturbing embrace of "Nazi chic" is prompting a nonprofit to ... ›
- Stassi Schroeder Criticized for Sharing 'Nazi Chic' Photo | PEOPLE ... ›
- Nazi Chic: The Asian Fashion Craze That Just Won't Die - VICE ›
- Nazi Chic – Aesthetics of Evil – Medium ›
- Amazon.com: Nazi 'Chic'?: Fashioning Women in the Third Reich ... ›
- 'Nazi-chic': Why dressing up in Nazi uniforms isn't as controversial in ... ›
Summer Walker returns and is no longer playing games.
Summer Walker loves creating music but despises the music industry.
She regularly considers retirement and ended her 2019 tour early because of social anxiety. "I hope that people understand and respect that at the end of the day I'm a person, I have feelings, I get tired, I get sad," she said in a video post. "I don't want to lose myself for someone else." She was relentlessly vilified for her decision. Fans cited stiff meet-and-greets and chalked up Walker's cancellations to a sense of entitlement.
Then she was presented with the "Best New Artist" award at the 2019 Soul Train Awards, and her hurried acceptance speech was dissected by tasteless memes all across the country. Walker's candid cries for understanding remained completely ignored by years end. The truth of the matter is that Walker suffers from anxiety and stage fright that is all but totally crippling. So she did what any misunderstood artist does, she disappeared and stopped saying anything at all.