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August 18, 2016 3:04 PM   Subscribe

IИDECLIИE, a collective of artists, has released its newest installation: The Emperor Has No Balls. Statues have been erected in five cities: New York, San Francisco, Los Angeles, Cleveland, and Seattle. ИSFW. posted by mattdidthat (165 comments total)

This post was deleted for the following reason: Poster's Request -- frimble



 
Bodyshaming Trump is just as unpleasant as bodyshaming anyone else.
posted by Gaz Errant at 3:07 PM on August 18, 2016 [60 favorites]


On the removal of New York installation, the New York Parks Department sent Gothamist the following statement: “NYC Parks stands firmly against any unpermitted erection in city parks, no matter how small.”
posted by The Bellman at 3:08 PM on August 18, 2016 [96 favorites]


So all caricature is body shaming?
posted by bradbane at 3:09 PM on August 18, 2016 [13 favorites]


Maybe it was just really, really cold in the room were he posed.
posted by valkane at 3:11 PM on August 18, 2016 [1 favorite]


I'd say Trump made this type of criticism of him fair game in the R primary debate.
posted by tclark at 3:12 PM on August 18, 2016 [6 favorites]


They can stand firmly against anything they want, but I'm not sure that's what I'd pick to lean against.
posted by blue_beetle at 3:15 PM on August 18, 2016 [2 favorites]


Bodyshaming Trump is just as unpleasant as bodyshaming anyone else.

Hey, live by the sword, die by the sword.
posted by His thoughts were red thoughts at 3:15 PM on August 18, 2016 [24 favorites]


As a friend of mine remarked, it's making a connection between Trump's evil and buffoonery and his old, fat, small-dickedness, and encouraging us to laugh at it. Nothing about oldness, fatness, or small-dickedness makes one a bad person, but this implies that they do.
posted by Gaz Errant at 3:20 PM on August 18, 2016 [15 favorites]


I'm kinda sympathetic to the body shaming criticism, but I read this first as an emperor's new suit of clothes sort of commentary. That and the naked is gonna shock more than Trump in a baggy suit would.

Hunh. What an amazing year.
posted by notyou at 3:20 PM on August 18, 2016 [4 favorites]


THE HANDS

YOU ARE SUPPOSED TO DO THE HANDS

CANT EVEN
posted by Foci for Analysis at 3:31 PM on August 18, 2016 [11 favorites]


Update 4:29 p.m.: Parks Department spokesperson Sam Biederman provided us with the following statement regarding the Trump statue:
NYC Parks stands firmly against any unpermitted erection in city parks, no matter how small.
posted by poffin boffin at 3:32 PM on August 18, 2016 [11 favorites]


Yeah I get what they're going for and why they did what they did, but ultimately they're saying "Trump is repulsive in the way this statue's body is repulsive" and as the owner of a repulsive body myself I find this upsetting. There's plenty of legitimate criticisms of trump truer and more relevant than "he has a tiny dick and no balls".
posted by Mr.Encyclopedia at 3:32 PM on August 18, 2016 [24 favorites]


oh did someone already post that I DONT CARE ITS THE BEST
posted by poffin boffin at 3:33 PM on August 18, 2016 [17 favorites]


we could do without the body shaming but we could also do without the brownshirt who conned his way into a nonzero chance to win the highest office in the nation so i guess this is a Land of Conflicts sort of thing
posted by griphus at 3:37 PM on August 18, 2016 [25 favorites]


As a friend of mine remarked, it’s making a connection between Trump's evil and buffoonery and his old, fat, small-dickedness, and encouraging us to laugh at it. Nothing about oldness, fatness, or small-dickedness makes one a bad person, but this implies that they do.

Also, obvs., the old story about the emperor having no clothes. Trump’s balls are ceremonial; we all pretend he has them, but he doesn’t.
posted by Going To Maine at 3:41 PM on August 18, 2016 [2 favorites]


I dunno, I think it's actually kind of...misogynist? Queerphobic? Transphobic? I mean, it relies on the idea that soft, irregular bodies are gross, that dicks need to be big, that it's shameful to be naked, that men's bodies can't be loved or erotic and that revealing them makes them less powerful, and that balls make the man..I happen to care very much for someone who is kind of a big fat person and this body reminds me of that body, so perversely it humanizes Trump for me. I don't think "ooh gross", I think "I know what it's like to embrace a fat person and to touch soft bodies".

Clicking through to the collective website, it looks pretty dude-driven and reminds me of Adbusters, which is an incredibly misogynist publication.

I get what they're trying to do, and I get that many people on the left have been too polite to make political capital out of the idea that Trump's body represents everything that Real Men Are Not Supposed To Be, but I think that's actually a strength of the left, not a weakness.
posted by Frowner at 3:43 PM on August 18, 2016 [79 favorites]


i seen a pænus
posted by (Arsenio) Hall and (Warren) Oates at 3:48 PM on August 18, 2016 [4 favorites]


Yes I think all of the body shaming stuff is absolutely a thing, BUT. My feeling is that this is meant to be less about shaming his body than shaming the low grade of our current politics. I think it's a slime-level troll, calling someone who preens and struts as he does fat, veiny, ugly, and castrated. It hits him on his level, but it also spotlights his level. It's gross and crude and nasty, and it calls attention to a very real problem: this is the level of our political discourse now.
posted by erinfern at 3:50 PM on August 18, 2016 [17 favorites]


Frankly, I think I've seen too much from the left, or at least from leftists and liberals, about how Trump's body is everything that Real Men Are Not Supposed To Be. His hair, his hands, his penis. Oh, but he's so awful we'll make an exception just this once, and then we'll resume our usual consciousness about how this sort of thing affects people. Yes, of course body shaming is bad, but his personality just so repulsive and obnoxious - I wonder if he's compensating for something, huh?
posted by teponaztli at 3:55 PM on August 18, 2016 [10 favorites]


Frankly, I think I've seen too much from the left, or at least from leftists and liberals, about how Trump's body is everything that Real Men Are Not Supposed To Be.

There's an argument that all of that is in response to Trump's own grandiose claims about his hair, his hands, his dick, and his ability in bed and in business (which I gather are roughly equivalent in his mind).
posted by His thoughts were red thoughts at 4:03 PM on August 18, 2016 [6 favorites]


Frankly, I think I've seen too much from the left, or at least from leftists and liberals, about how Trump's body is everything that Real Men Are Not Supposed To Be. His hair, his hands, his penis. Oh, but he's so awful we'll make an exception just this once, and then we'll resume our usual consciousness about how this sort of thing affects people. Yes, of course body shaming is bad, but his personality just so repulsive and obnoxious - I wonder if he's compensating for something, huh?

it just seems like such a cheap shot when there are ACTUAL awful things to needle him about like his ACTUAL racism and misogyny and fascist inclinations
posted by burgerrr at 4:04 PM on August 18, 2016 [13 favorites]


Some people seem to be having a hard time with this, so I'll just add that it's totally ok to be uncomfortable with this, not liking this statue or its message doesn't make you a Trump supporter, and Trump is still 100% unsuited for any public position regardless of this statue.
posted by Mr.Encyclopedia at 4:07 PM on August 18, 2016 [8 favorites]


I mean honestly, seeing the statue face down in the truck bed, seeing how vulnerable it looked - it made me feel a weird burst of sympathy for the poor naked thing, and then I thought, for just a moment, "poor Trump, having to live in a body that everyone feels free to mock." This is not a feeling I want to have about Trump, who is a monster.
posted by Frowner at 4:13 PM on August 18, 2016 [28 favorites]


Trump built his brand on a melange of toxic masculinity. His political image is of a strong, powerful, virile Father Figure who will bestow his protection on his True Believers.

It's easy enough to read these statues are using his body as a stand-in for his weird, obsessive pseudo-masculine BS. It's saying: You can spend an entire life showing off all the women you're supposedly fucking but when it comes down to it your body is just as fallible as anyone else's. You're a fat old man, and your image built on bullying strength will look more and more ridiculous as you and your body gets older, just like everyone's does.

On the other hand, "haha Trump has a small penis and is unmanly" is liable to be the more prevalent interpretation and I totally understand why people don't like the rhetoric around this, because a lot of it is really gross. Between "Hillary is brain damaged and infirm" and "Trump has a personality disorder", ugh ugh ugh.
posted by BungaDunga at 4:14 PM on August 18, 2016 [8 favorites]


If it were any other human, I'd totally agree with the points about body shaming. But let's remember, this is the first American presidential candidate to talk about the size of his dick during a debate.

Let me reiterate for emphasis.

This is the first American presidential candidate to talk about the size of his dick during a debate.

Donald Trump is a man so petty, so childish, so boorish, so vain, that this form of political protest is laser-targeted to hit him where it hurts him most, in his rampaging-toddler ego. I feel like he could literally be laying awake at night thinking about these fucking statues. I'll bet he's calling his investigative team back from Hawaii to dig dirt on these "INDECLINE" people. I'll bet protestors will hold up posters of these monstrosities outside his rallies and hotels and public appearances and he will be haunted.

This is exactly the right protest for exactly the right tyrant.
posted by slagheap at 4:14 PM on August 18, 2016 [52 favorites]


I would find it more compelling if the statue was an accurate depiction of the man (and keeping the skin realistic but smooth, no veins or blotches or discolorations) except for the lack of balls. Even a normal sized penis, which would frankly accentuate a lack of balls, would convey the message and it wouldn't get lost in the ugly thoughts of body shaming this statue introduces.
posted by linux at 4:15 PM on August 18, 2016 [3 favorites]


it made me feel a weird burst of sympathy for the poor naked thing

we're v different people i guess cause i wanted to see it on fire
posted by poffin boffin at 4:16 PM on August 18, 2016 [10 favorites]


These guys seem very annoying.
posted by Artw at 4:17 PM on August 18, 2016 [1 favorite]


If it were any other human, I'd totally agree with the points about body shaming. But let's remember, this is the first American presidential candidate to talk about the size of his dick during a debate.

I don't care how body shaming affects Trump. I care how associating his vile personality with his body affects other people - how they see their own bodies, how people talk about someone who looks like them. Trump is a singularly horrible force in politics, but he's not the only person who might look like this. Making an exception for him means it's still kind of OK to look at bodies this way.
posted by teponaztli at 4:17 PM on August 18, 2016 [28 favorites]


P.S: I'm not trying to say you can't be masculine and virile and fat and small-penised- because you can. I'm saying that Trump's particular brand of psuedo-masculinity is all about mocking others so imho punching back at him with "I know you are, but what am I?" has some appeal to me.
posted by BungaDunga at 4:17 PM on August 18, 2016 [2 favorites]


I'll bet he's calling his investigative team back from Hawaii to dig dirt on these "INDECLINE" people.

Just look at what happened to Illma Gore, who made a similar painting.
posted by BungaDunga at 4:20 PM on August 18, 2016 [3 favorites]


First, the fatphobia here is pretty obvious, but linking the size of one's genitals to masculinity or self-worth is transphobic, and many otherwise-aware liberals don't think about that.

Second, Trump is an abominable person but no one is going to be convinced of that by seeing this artwork. It's going to make some of his supporters angry, and his detractors (most of us) will point and laugh at... what? his ideas? No, they're laughing at a fat, saggy body with a small penis.
posted by AFABulous at 4:26 PM on August 18, 2016 [17 favorites]


The next logical step here is for someone to do this with Hillary and does anyone here want that? Trump supporters hate her as much as most of us hate Trump, and they're certainly not afraid to take the low road.
posted by AFABulous at 4:29 PM on August 18, 2016 [7 favorites]


Would this be better if he had a giant cock and balls?
posted by kittens for breakfast at 4:36 PM on August 18, 2016 [1 favorite]


I think the humor is inappropriate. It reminds me also of Sassy Trump, whose entire joke is "wouldn't Trump sound funny if he had a faggy voice, like Liberace".

OTOH, it's also funny, and I say this as a gay man who likes faggy voices and fat men. I think it's funny because part of Trump's shtick is this ridiculously aggressive masculine posture. It's funny to see it undone. It's also inappropriate humor. Things can be both at once, at least for me.

Full props to the collective who pulled this off in five places at once. Those statues are big, could not have been easy to move.
posted by Nelson at 4:44 PM on August 18, 2016 [15 favorites]


I guess we're all slowly finding out where that Progressive Left Sweet Spot is between the embarrassing toothlessness of the Clinton campaign's "Dangerous Donald" etc. and whatever the hell this is.
posted by griphus at 4:50 PM on August 18, 2016 [5 favorites]


Full props to the collective who pulled this off in five places at once. Those statues are big, could not have been easy to move.

Clearly they aren't in it for the money. In comparison with their target.
posted by a lungful of dragon at 5:01 PM on August 18, 2016 [1 favorite]


Since becoming more aware of testicular cancer, I've come to hate the phrase "has no balls." It's amazing how often you hear that in every day context, and, as far as I'm concerned, it's one of those phrases that just has to leave our language, as it's just a shot of pain and a reminder for those who suffered from the disease and those who love people afflicted with it. So you can imagine what I think of this project.
posted by sardonyx at 5:05 PM on August 18, 2016 [11 favorites]


From the foot of the destroyed statue it looks like they are maybe expanded foam?
posted by Artw at 5:07 PM on August 18, 2016 [2 favorites]


The next logical step here is for someone to do this with Hillary and does anyone here want that?

There are a number of false equivalencies in that "logical" leap. For one, Hillary would have to be a macho-acting, veiny blowhard with tiny male genitalia.
posted by a lungful of dragon at 5:11 PM on August 18, 2016


If it were any other human, I'd totally agree with the points about body shaming. But let's remember, this is the first American presidential candidate to talk about the size of his dick during a debate.

Sure, but LBJ would regularly bully Congressmen and staffers by brandishing his dick to make them as uncomfortable as possible.

And yet that asshole gave us the Civil Rights Act.

If the worst we can say about Trump is that he makes untimely comments about his dick, he's funny looking when naked, and possibly has a heavily stigmatized health condition he's a much better presidential candidate than originally thought. (spoiler alert: it's not. but it's amazing he's been able to bury his shitty policy goals in this mudslinging.)
posted by politikitty at 5:11 PM on August 18, 2016 [2 favorites]


They had a naked Donald Trump statue in Seattle until 4:30 pm; then some people drove up in a pick up truck and stole it.
posted by spinifex23 at 5:13 PM on August 18, 2016 [1 favorite]


Is this the new erection thread?
posted by Cookiebastard at 5:14 PM on August 18, 2016 [18 favorites]


Indecline is a graffiti crew not exactly known for their subtlety. This is a penis joke made by some pretty young vandals.

Trump is a presidential candidate not exactly known for his subtlety. He made a dead serious reference to his penis on national television.

Something can simultaneously be completely juvenile and effective satire. I just find an immediate call out of "body shaming" with nothing else added a lazy artistic critique. Repulsive bodies are not off limits to artists, and I disagree that art should somehow always make everyone comfortable in their bodies. Irregardless of the merits of this work, which are few.

Indecline is really good at pulling off effective stunts to say something totally stupid, the same way all Banksy works are the equivalent of whoa-dude stoner bumper stickers. You could blame it on the medium - installing something illegally, in public, that people will drive/walk past doesn't really lend itself to subtle statements. They are trying to do the situationist break-the-spectacle thing, which this certainly does (saw it in SF earlier, it is impossible to not go WTF when you see it around normal people on a sidewalk).

Still even with that said a small dick joke is pretty lame. Although they certainly aren't the first (there was that woman who did the Trump small dick "banned by Facebook" painting months ago), I do struggle to think of what an effective take down of Trump's toxic strongman masculinity would look like if done by a "serious" artist. This work certainly gets straight to the point even if it's a stupid point.
posted by bradbane at 5:16 PM on August 18, 2016 [5 favorites]


This is the best body shaming discussion I've read in a long time on Metafilter. Trump is the litmus test. Either body shaming is wrong for everybody, or it's just another option in our status toolbox. I personally think the statue's message is: People who are fat and have small penises are contemptible, like Donald Trump.
posted by Modest House at 5:23 PM on August 18, 2016 [4 favorites]


Like Jeff Koons would totally just make a giant, golden dick and call it a day. It would be a beautiful giant golden dick, the best.
posted by bradbane at 5:23 PM on August 18, 2016 [3 favorites]


No, they're laughing at a fat, saggy body with a small penis.

I'm a fat guy with a saggy body and a small penis who walked up to Union Square Park on his lunch hour to see the statue, and there were lots of people there laughing, and I didn't fell like they were laughing at people like me. I felt like they were laughing because Trump got viciously trolled.

I understand the points about body shaming and other related problematic aspects of this display, but I just wanted to add my single data point to an "all things considered" judgement people might want to come to as they contemplate this event.

The obvious delight of the crowd had a whole lot to do with how good I feel about this. I took a photo when a young guy, probably in his early 20s, chubby, brown-skinned, crept up behind the statue and lovingly wrapped his arms around Trumps shoulders with a very sweet smile on his face, and then leaned over to tweak Donald's penis.

Everybody loved it.
posted by layceepee at 5:24 PM on August 18, 2016 [45 favorites]


I disagree that art should somehow always make everyone comfortable in their bodies

What, fat people are too sensitive? Old people? People with "flawed" bodies? We should just, like, belt up and accept that our very physicality is a punchline when it's not a sign of actual evil?

Sorry, I've lived all my life in a body that is, in a number of ways, a punchline , and I don't find "lol he pretends to be so macho but really he's fat with a small dick" to be any kind of radical critique. It's a fascist critique (because it positions the ideal, nonrisible body as impermeable, hypermasculine, non-erotic, not revealed, etc) so I guess it befits these fascist times, but that does not fill me with joy.
posted by Frowner at 5:25 PM on August 18, 2016 [16 favorites]


so this and this are what I had to say about nude Trump across America in the increasingly surreal election thread (uhh my bad guys).

I'm absolutely willing to back down from that position if the folks over here think I should, because maybe I am being somewhat slapdash about the body-shamey aspects of the art. My serious first impression, though, is that the art in question works well, specifically because Donald Trump is a man who lives in almost comic fear of his own body — he's a shallow, shallow man who thinks any body with lumps and fat and stretch marks, a body that sweats and farts and breaks down and bears on its surface and in its interior the mark of 70 long years on this planet, must necessarily be disgusting. He knows that no one as shallow as him could ever love his body, and so instead of growing up about it and learning to love being in the ramshackle old thing, he hides it (Marla Maples, with whom he made a child who he sometimes telephones, has allegedly never seen him nude, since he would only disrobe in absolute darkness), he hides it under the suit jacket that he never takes off and he hides it under a 60,000 dollar weave and he becomes cartoonishly offended when anyone implies anything about his dick not being the best dick in the world, and he lies about his body always, and he hates it.

and for a second this morning, five copies of it — the very thing he's never learned to love, the very thing he's been running from since he was in his 40s — are out there on the street in America, his self-loathed flesh there in all its glory from all to see.

Or something.

If fear of aging and fear of bodies weren't so much a part of Trump's whole deal, this would be body shaming. But even more than he's running for president, trump is running from his own aging body, and so the installations are canny commentary on both Trump and on the human condition.

(the plaque is dumb, though. It should have an Ozymandias reference on it instead).
posted by You Can't Tip a Buick at 5:28 PM on August 18, 2016 [20 favorites]


(yes though I am uncomfortable with the smaller-than-average penis being such a centerpiece of the statue, and the plaque is just dumb, and I suspect that the artists might not see quite the same commentary on how vanity leads to self-loathing that I do, and also there are people smarter than me about bodies and what they do and what they mean in this thread so I'm going to shut up now.)
posted by You Can't Tip a Buick at 5:34 PM on August 18, 2016 [3 favorites]


that's both wise and a sick burn. best combo ever.
posted by You Can't Tip a Buick at 5:37 PM on August 18, 2016 [1 favorite]


I hate it, hate the whole thing, and I'm glad to read that some folks here feel the same way. When I saw the statue, my first thought was, "well, that's going to make a bunch of trans and non-binary and fat people I know feel shitty." And Trump doesn't care! The man has had actual Holocaust survivors compare him to Hitler and it didn't ding his vanity; you think this is going to do it? It seems that his narcissism is such that he can feel shame about what people think about his body and penis size without ever experiencing a shred of remorse about his actual behavior, so I get the temptation to go for the weak spot, but man, I could not be any more tired of no-balls/micropenis jokes.

I like the points (like YCTaB's above) about the fallibility of bodies and Trump's mortality, though. If it were scrupulously realistic, it might have been funnier.
posted by thetortoise at 5:38 PM on August 18, 2016 [6 favorites]


I have a lot of issues with Trump's campaign and brand of American exceptionalism, but as a physical specimen I think he's pretty average for a man of his age. I don't really care how big or small his genitalia are, how real or fake his hair may be, if his skin color comes from a spray bottle or a UV lamp, etc. Whatever. The man's ideas are repulsive enough, and beyond that, I don't really care how he looks. He isn't running for Prom King, he's running for president of the USA. America has had at least one president with an actual physical disability (FDR), and he was one of our greatest presidents ever. So it's what's in his head and heart that matter. This is just more sideshow.

To me, these sculptures seem like rather lazy caricatures; a schoolyard putdown at best. I think there's much more to be gained by attacking the man for his flawed ideas and horrible policy suggestions (can't really call them plans, as plans suggest, well, planning).

Lastly, if having a pair of testicles is a requirement for this job, someone better tell Hillary stat. Though I suppose a) she's been hearing that shit for her whole life and it's one of the reasons why she's who she is, and b) her lack of actual testicles is one of her best selling points this go 'round.
posted by mosk at 5:41 PM on August 18, 2016 [1 favorite]


Now that I am an old, actually, I've seen quite a lot of art that starts from "well, the discourse is already corrupt, let's use its corruption" - mostly art that purports to satirize misogynist porn or hateful attitudes toward women, sometimes art that purports to satirize violence. Basically, by engaging in violent or misogynist discourse, one is supposed to be able to render it so exaggerrated, so outside - so yuge, if you will - that the absurdity of it stands undeniable and revealed.

I have noticed that this does not generally work. Ultraporn is just more porn. Ultraviolence is just more violence. The satire is accessible to the thinky part of the brain, but the raw image itself is what stays. You can't critique intense, visceral stuff by showing more intense versions of it.

Similarly, the whole idea that you can get at sophisticated ideas about mortality and humility through showing a comic version of a kind of body that is already despised and stigmatised - that's not what's going to work. You're just replicating a pervasive discourse about which bodies are risible and which aren't. Especially if you're, like, a black-clad anarchist dude who, like, usually spends his art time cutting through chain link fences and rappelling up billboards and filming awesome video of yourself all masked up - that is, basically fetishizing the kind of left masculinity I would have thought really awesome when I was, like, fourteen.
posted by Frowner at 5:42 PM on August 18, 2016 [40 favorites]


I mean, actually, I still think cutting through chainlink fences and rappelling up billboards and stuff is pretty cool, I admit.
posted by Frowner at 5:44 PM on August 18, 2016 [10 favorites]


There are a number of false equivalencies in that "logical" leap. For one, Hillary would have to be a macho-acting, veiny blowhard with tiny male genitalia.

No, Trump's supporters think that Hillary is a shrill b*tch who is hiding medical problems. I don't know what they think about her body. But they would not be above using it to try to humiliate her, and I'm guessing almost no one on the left is going to be okay with that.
posted by AFABulous at 5:46 PM on August 18, 2016 [3 favorites]


It’s a fascist critique (because it positions the ideal, nonrisible body as impermeable, hypermasculine, non-erotic, not revealed, etc)

I get that it’s arguably a patriarchal critique, but calling it “fascist” surprises me.

Perhaps, in retrosepect, the ultimate Emperor’s New Clothes critique of Trump would be a Yes Men-style distribution of fake Trump tax returns that show he’s worth but a penny.
posted by Going To Maine at 5:48 PM on August 18, 2016


Even just reading the discussion makes me feel sick to my stomach. This was all a bad idea and the left needs to stop being lazy and crude in their mockery. It's not a whole lot different from those grotesque caricatures of Hillary you saw everywhere in 2008 (and I assume this year, I was actively trying to ignore what merch people were selling at the GOP Convention.)

Also it occurs to me that, given Trump has rape allegations and some really creepy stuff on record, forcing his unknown number of victims to see their abuser naked seems, uh, unchill. This was also a really, really bad idea in that Kanye video depicting a naked Cosby in bed. I just wish Trump would go away entirely; he won't (and might start a media empire with Roger Ailes and the Breitbart folks even if he loses, ugh) but c'mon, we can do so much better than this. There's plenty of ammunition.
posted by naju at 5:50 PM on August 18, 2016 [7 favorites]


oh did someone already post that I DONT CARE ITS THE BEST

Somehow, duplicates in a Trump thread seem on-topic.
posted by GenjiandProust at 5:52 PM on August 18, 2016 [2 favorites]


I think there's much more to be gained by attacking the man for his flawed ideas and horrible policy suggestions

I mean, is there? I'm not (necessarily) saying that responding to him pointing to his genitals by also pointing to his genitals is the Right Thing To Do, but I'm not sure how much more the Right Thing To Do is responding to his beloved Yosemite Sam act with Reasoned Stances on the Issues.
posted by griphus at 5:52 PM on August 18, 2016 [4 favorites]


yeah, the trick is maybe figuring out how to make it clear that the problem with Trump's body is that he hates it (I hold this to be genuinely central to his politics on the whole), without instead encouraging everyone else to hate his body too (our cultural programming already does a great job of encouraging everyone to hate bodies).

and this piece failed by that metric.
posted by You Can't Tip a Buick at 5:53 PM on August 18, 2016 [9 favorites]


I get that it’s arguably a patriarchal critique, but calling it “fascist” surprises me.

There's a specific idea of the male body that is historically associated with fascism (see the very interesting Male Fantasies: Women, Bodies, Floods History for further in re Nazi Germany). The male fascist body - the ideal body - is hard-not-soft, defined-not-blurred-edged, young not old, muscular, symmetrical, an object of admiration or sexualized admiration but not desire, well-not-sick, etc. The bad body (the Jewish body, the foreign body, the communist body, the female body, the homosexual body) is soft, permeable, penetrable, the subject of sexual desire, weak, "misshapen", old, etc. And this is because the body is the outward sign of inward virtue - you can tell that the communist is bad because he's dark and weak instead of aryan and strong, etc.

When I see a critique of a political figure that works by the idea that a soft, old, weak male body is risible, and that the revelation of that body undercuts the person who lives in it, I feel like there's a strong undercurrent that says that the "normal", virtuous body is strong/muscular/well/etc. There's a lot of fascist stuff about bodies in progressive circles, actually - where people attribute signs of aging, fatness, sickness, irregularity, etc to personal failings of the individual. You get a lot of this in middle class activist circles, although of course it is deployed most effectively against women and femme people.
posted by Frowner at 5:58 PM on August 18, 2016 [34 favorites]


Going to Maine, you ever read Theweleit's Mannerfantasien?
posted by adamgreenfield at 5:59 PM on August 18, 2016 [1 favorite]


Jinx Frowner.
posted by adamgreenfield at 5:59 PM on August 18, 2016 [2 favorites]


This is certainly ill-advised, so don't think I'm actually advocating it - but for a day or two I was playing around with the idea of everyone propagating a rumor that Trump is a virgin. In my mind it works if you play it a certain way - it's absurd and no one believes it, he's had kids and wives, and being a virgin isn't an insult or anything to be ashamed of anyway, but it's exactly the kind of thing that HE thinks is questioning his masculinity and it's the sort of thing he would spend way too much time obsessing over and pushing back on, and that defensiveness would be the funny part that just keeps expanding out of control the more you goad him about it. But this wouldn't work because enough people would take the joke to be at the expense of virgins, or advocating sex=masculinity, and the idea that it would hurt even one person other than Trump unintentionally would be enough to make me think twice. And also, the fact (again) that he's got rape allegations and just, nah.
posted by naju at 6:00 PM on August 18, 2016 [2 favorites]


When I first saw this, I thought it was funny. And in a way, kind of smart, since Trump reacts to attacks to his masculinity in ways which demonstrate how unfit he is for the post.

But then the more I looked at it, the more uncomfortable I became. I tried to imagine someone doing the same thing to Clinton and it felt unbearable to me. (And I get why it's different, but really I don't get why it's different). And now I'm really actively not liking it.

I get why it's been done. I don't think the artists are awful people. I see how it is in some ways a legitimate critique. All those things are true. But still. Not comfy.
posted by frumiousb at 6:23 PM on August 18, 2016 [3 favorites]


WRT to the oversight concerning the hands; darth has you covered.
posted by ethansr at 6:26 PM on August 18, 2016 [1 favorite]


teny cheken hends (๑˃̵ᴗ˂̵)و
posted by Foci for Analysis at 7:17 PM on August 18, 2016 [3 favorites]


Given Manafort's links to ousted Ukrainian President Yanukovich, I think a reappearance of the golden loaf would have worked just as well. Although maybe a gold poo emoji would be better for an American audience.
posted by Kabanos at 7:26 PM on August 18, 2016


Perhaps, in retrosepect, the ultimate Emperor’s New Clothes critique of Trump would be a Yes Men-style distribution of fake Trump tax returns that show he’s worth but a penny.

I've been hoping that someone would put together a really convincing set of forged tax returns for him. Either forcing him to release his own, or forcing him to let them be the only "tax return" available, and who knows, they might be real...
posted by BungaDunga at 7:27 PM on August 18, 2016


Give it a week or so and we'll find out exactly how it feels when the other side does it to Clinton. (Probably not a set of statues, though; hastily photoshopped memes are faster.)

And those assholes are not going to be open to the idea that this thing is artistic and making an important point about Trump's masculinity and self-loathing and emperor's-new-clothesiness, while their thing is misogynist and terrible.
posted by Spathe Cadet at 7:40 PM on August 18, 2016 [4 favorites]


Oh good, now we're down at his level.

Know the joke about wrestling with a pig?
posted by nickggully at 8:01 PM on August 18, 2016 [2 favorites]


Can we crowdsource dressing it in Trump campaign gear?
posted by Ray Walston, Luck Dragon at 8:08 PM on August 18, 2016


Know the joke about wrestling with a pig?

you can win a corn dog if you do it at a state fair?
posted by poffin boffin at 8:09 PM on August 18, 2016 [21 favorites]


Just here to say kudos and thanks to the folk calling out the body-shaming in this work. There is no argument that Trump is utterly detestable, nor that political humor, satire, and lampooning can be legitimate and useful expressions. But body-shaming is still wrong and deserves calling out.
posted by splitpeasoup at 8:12 PM on August 18, 2016 [1 favorite]


When I first saw this, I thought it was funny. And in a way, kind of smart, since Trump reacts to attacks to his masculinity in ways which demonstrate how unfit he is for the post.

But then the more I looked at it, the more uncomfortable I became. I tried to imagine someone doing the same thing to Clinton and it felt unbearable to me. (And I get why it's different, but really I don't get why it's different). And now I'm really actively not liking it.


The difficulty here is discerning art from political statement in a case where they're inextricably intertwined. That being said these types of conflicting feelings are a success for some artists - particularly those who might be considered "anarchist".
posted by bitdamaged at 8:13 PM on August 18, 2016


The amazing installation, the bluntness of the piece, the timing, this chaotic election, in this chaotic world, it amazes me and makes me proud of the artists. It is a cheap, cheap, well done shot. Before this election started I only saw the Donald as a caricature. I saw him in brief glimpses, and at times found the persona of the moment entertaining. The bluntness of the installations barks at this time, and all the brutal and blunt things ongoing. By comparison to the harsh realities of our city streets, these seem like carnival statuary. The body shaming is terrible, and no one has body shamed more publicly than Donald Trump.
posted by Oyéah at 8:41 PM on August 18, 2016 [7 favorites]


I am offended that people are suggesting that this is body shaming. This is what my body looks like and I am proud of it. I had assumed this was put up by Trump supporters to highlight his physical beauty. Now I come here and find out I'm supposed to be ashamed of my body.
posted by vorpal bunny at 8:55 PM on August 18, 2016 [7 favorites]


Would a fake art-piece tax return showing a net worth of zero or less, then, be poverty-shaming? There are people for whom that might hit uncomfortably close to home, the same way there are fat, veiny, and/or small-penised people that this strikes a nerve with. My impression is that the intent behind this piece (well-executed or not) is purely to highlight the contrast between the façade of virile masculinity and an exaggerated version the more likely reality, the same way a faked tax return would highlight the contrast between the façade of immense wealth and an exaggerated version of the more likely reality. I don't think either is or would be meant as an invitation to point and laugh at the characteristics embodied (fat, veiny, small-penised, or poor) separated from the myth of virile wealthy TRMP.

Maybe the emperor's clothes allusion highlights that it's all about the contrast: no one would care if a random villager were naked; the whole point is that it's the arrogant narcissistic clothes-obsessed emperor.

All that said, I totally get how this veiny mess, or the fake-poor tax return, could be read as shaming. Maybe I'm being too charitable. There is an element of point-and-laugh, but I just don't think it applies or has any weight when it's not this blowhard we're pointing and laughing at.
posted by supercres at 9:00 PM on August 18, 2016 [3 favorites]


Yeah, the same INDECLINE behind the infamous BUMFIGHTS videos. Fuck those guys.
posted by old_growler at 9:15 PM on August 18, 2016 [6 favorites]


I'm looking at their Vimeo page and apparently they also made a big mural that depicts him with a ball gag and says "¡RAPE TRUMP!"
posted by teponaztli at 9:17 PM on August 18, 2016


Spy magazine (whose publishers loathed Trump) put HRC several times on their cover during Bill's administration including: as a dominatrix
as a cruel doctor
...and in tighty whities sporting a bulging erection
posted by brujita at 9:18 PM on August 18, 2016 [1 favorite]


If it were any other human, I'd totally agree with the points about body shaming. But let's remember, this is the first American presidential candidate to talk about the size of his dick during a debate.

I honestly don't get the logic behind "I hate this person's tactic so much, I'm going to fight back by using that same tactic."
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 9:27 PM on August 18, 2016 [4 favorites]


Yeah I get the fat shaming point, but I for one won't be satisfied until Trump is mocked mercilessly and repeatedly until he cries on national TV, preferably while wetting his pants.* I want more things that hit him where it hurts.

*ohplease ohplease let it be during the debates.
posted by Slarty Bartfast at 9:27 PM on August 18, 2016 [2 favorites]


Yeah I get the fat shaming point, but I for one won't be satisfied until Trump is mocked mercilessly and repeatedly until he cries on national TV, preferably while wetting his pants.* I want more things that hit him where it hurts.

*ohplease ohplease let it be during the debates.


I, too, will be without satisfaction unless the other party's nominee is subjected to enough harassment to result in a gendered, ageist display of public humiliation.

I'm so glad this is how our electoral process is broadcast to the world. I feel like I'm represented now, because someone decided to publicly announce that Trump has no balls.
posted by timfinnie at 11:08 PM on August 18, 2016 [4 favorites]


I'm so glad this is how our electoral process is broadcast to the world. I feel like I'm represented now, because someone decided to publicly announce that Trump has no balls.

Trump is an ranting open white supremacist who has declared he will build a wall across the 3000km US/Mexico border, mocked the disabled, disparaged women, insulted dead soliders and POWs, bragged about his dick at rallies, implied that he wants to fuck his own daughter, and variously called for the imprisonment and/or assassination of his opponent. And much, much more besides.

But this is what you think will tarnish the US on the international stage?
posted by His thoughts were red thoughts at 11:22 PM on August 18, 2016 [13 favorites]


But this is what you think will tarnish the US on the international stage?

It's bad enough seeing and hearing Trump, and thinking 'oh no'. And then seeing his supporters, and thinking 'oh dear god no'. But this piece (and much of the commentary around it) says more – little of it good – about the people who we hope to be better than Trump and his supporters.
posted by not the fingers, not the fingers at 11:29 PM on August 18, 2016 [3 favorites]


But this is what you think will tarnish the US on the international stage?

No, sorry. I failed to limit it to the "this" that is apparently "I want the person to be publicly broken" encapsulated in a comment on this website, instead of a broader "this" that encompasses the real terribleness of Trump's campaign (The Queens Creature, A Set for Parties Levels 15-20).

I have no reason to believe that a comment on Metafilter is really broadcast to the world at large, except for the portion of the world at large that partakes of Metafilter, which is enough to make me think about how we can address Trump and his awfulness while also not willfully creating more awfulness.
posted by timfinnie at 11:43 PM on August 18, 2016


The statue in San Francisco was installed in a place that is sorta the locus for nude gay men to casually hang out in public, so honestly when I saw the headline this morning my first thought was that it was some kind of absurd humorous spin on that, Trump joining the nudists of the Castro.
posted by needs more cowbell at 11:48 PM on August 18, 2016 [1 favorite]


I wonder what's up with the ring (2:30 in the video). I googled "Donald Trump Freemason" and just got a bunch of weird conspiracy YouTube videos.
posted by L.P. Hatecraft at 12:43 AM on August 19, 2016


"So, my 3 o'clock is ... ah, Mr. Trump. A pleasure to see you. And what may I do for you?"

"Satan! Thank you, thanks for making the time. I, no but I love the demons, really have a good relationship with them. And Donald Trump is announcing, today, that he is running for President!"

"Oh, how frightfully delicious. I take it you have come to petition my help? Standard contract?"

"Trump's soul, no problem, that's a great deal. I know about deals, and this will be a great deal for Trump, for America. What do I get ... I need a good deal here Satan."

"Well let me just say that if you make this bargain with me, Mr. Trump, I promise they will be putting up statues of you in, oh, at least five major American cities. I absolutely guarantee that."

"Done! Let's sign this up!"
posted by the quidnunc kid at 12:44 AM on August 19, 2016 [14 favorites]


If it were any other human, I'd totally agree with the points about body shaming. But let's remember, this is the first American presidential candidate to talk about the size of his dick during a debate.

Yes, let's take a course of action that says that the problem with Trump doing that is that he's actually got a small dick (and thus unworthy to be president) rather than critiquing a value system that holds one's genital configuration as important to one's ability to be president. In fact, let's buy into that value system entirely instead, and then criticise Trump from that perspective! And then ignore that we've at that point ceded all the ground in the world to him, except for the final detail about how big his dick actually is.

This isn't about Trump. This is about what statements this makes about people, about what's acceptable. And it's saying exactly the same awful things as Trump even as it seeks to embarrass the man.
posted by Dysk at 1:33 AM on August 19, 2016 [4 favorites]


I don't think this is just "body shaming". There is more to it. It is basically an immanent critique of Trumps own platform/moral system.

It only "works" as a critique because it is Trump's own standards turned on himself. His personal obsession with women's bodies, his own penis size, his concern about his hand size. And most of all his obsession with branding.

This is the only way to make Trump truly regret running for president (which was always a joke for him) in the first place. To destroy his absurd personal brand, through an absurd personal attack.
posted by mary8nne at 1:38 AM on August 19, 2016 [4 favorites]


In fact, let's buy into that value system entirely instead, and then criticise Trump from that perspective!

But its not to "buy into the value system". The power of an immanent critique is to use the value system against itself. If you merely critique Trump from another standpoint then he is free to ignore you and claim that your standpoint is invalid.

But Trump cannot claim his own standpoint is invalid. Thus, this is really the only way to critique someone like Trump effectively.
posted by mary8nne at 1:41 AM on August 19, 2016 [1 favorite]


You seem to be ignoring the existence of an audience that isn't Trump. In fact, most of the audience isn't Trump. If this were directed at Trump in the way you imply, it'd have been put up on his lawn, not in five different public parks for the public at large to see.
posted by Dysk at 2:09 AM on August 19, 2016 [1 favorite]


Asking EVERYONE ELSE (in the form of the general public) to accept Trump's value system in order for the critique to have teeth is the problem. Asking the same of Trump isn't a problem in the same way (as he already accepts his own logic). By all means do the latter if you want to rile the man up - send him whatever photos, paintings and statues you like. But if you actually want to have some political impact, some meaningful contribution of the work, recognise that what matters isn't Trump's opinion on anything, but everyone else's opinion of Trump. And they don't all share his value system.
posted by Dysk at 2:16 AM on August 19, 2016


I found this funny. I hope that doesn't make me a bad person. I don't want to be a bad person.

I did not find it funny because of the depiction of an aging, overweight body. Such bodies aren't funny in and of themselves. I happily cuddle up to one such body every night and it does not make me laugh. I found it funny because of the stark contrast between the man's cocky behaviour and this weak, fragile, flawed all-too-human figure; between the posing and the ex-posing, if you will.
I see this as behaviour shaming, not body shaming.

I do not consider small penises to be funny. I have had great sex with men who owned penises of below average size. I felt and feel not the slightest desire to mock these men or their penises. But I found the small penis on this statue funny precisely because Trump himself has publicly made claims about his penis size; the man himself has brought the subject to the table. Apparently he feels that it's worthy of discussion.
A statue of, say, Gerorge Bush with a small penis would not have had the same effect, because as far as I know the man never even mentioned his penis size in public; and to me that would have been a bad joke to make because it would have been content-less, and also mean towards those who have small penises.

On the other hand, I don't like 'has no balls' as a way to put someone down. Half of humankind has no balls; there's nothing wrong with having no balls.

> ultimately they're saying "Trump is repulsive in the way this statue's body is repulsive"

Only if you consider the statue's body to be repulsive.
posted by Too-Ticky at 2:40 AM on August 19, 2016 [8 favorites]


He's bad. But he'll die.
posted by Segundus at 2:47 AM on August 19, 2016 [3 favorites]


Y'all mentioned Ilma Gore upthread, she who painted the picture of nude DJT with small dick. She was assaulted in May. If the current piece has been in the works for four months, my guess is that it's a response to that assault.
posted by Sublimity at 4:00 AM on August 19, 2016 [2 favorites]


Also, I can't figure out a way to link to it, but this art piece is itself inspiring artistic response. The Seattle PI Facebook feed has a video of a woman singing a Trump song alongside the statue in Seattle.
posted by Sublimity at 4:08 AM on August 19, 2016


Asking EVERYONE ELSE (in the form of the general public) to accept Trump's value system in order for the critique to have teeth is the problem.

I feel like you are misunderstanding the actual point of the statue.
- the point is not to say: "Trump is an ugly over weight man".

- instead I believe it illustrates the hypocrisy of Trump and the absurdity of his whole value system.

You don't have to accept Trumps' value system to see that it is internally inconsistent.
posted by mary8nne at 4:59 AM on August 19, 2016 [3 favorites]


America, maybe it's time to stop asking if Trump is the president you want, and start asking if Trump is the president you deserve?
posted by blue_beetle at 5:08 AM on August 19, 2016 [1 favorite]


I have not observed "immanent critique" to work very well because it relies on replicating/intensifying the very thing that is Not So Great and then assuming that this replication/intensification will somehow take down the bad thing - which tends to assume that the rise of the bad thing has happened because people don't really see it. But in any case, this would all be more immanent critque-y if it weren't hinging on "Trump literally has no balls, lol". This isn't photo-realism or a relatively sympathetic portrait like the Trump painting; it's a satire of Trump's body that hinges on the ideas that a man without testicles is less of a real man, and that a real body part is a strong metaphor for power. This isn't a Lucian Freud painting.

If anything, it reminds me of Adbusters, whose visual style boils down to "let's link disgusting or frighteningly sexual bodies with voracious capitalist consumption without regard for the people who actually live in those bodies and indeed without regard for women generally".
posted by Frowner at 5:50 AM on August 19, 2016 [4 favorites]




[real]

An actual indication that the quote is real and not postulated or sarcastic. It's become de rigueur in the massive election threads (which I am finally caught up on, which is why I'm reading other threads, which anyway—) because reality has become so utterly unbelievable that it's hard to tell when someone is being facetious and when they're simply reporting the news.

I went to see the statue at Wacko in Hollywood last night, since it was on my planned route. Interesting crowd, but the art is gross and I didn't stay long. A lot of the media pictures of this statue were of it out on the corner of the street, with the murals on the side of the building as backdrop. By the time I got there it stood on the stoop in front, right next to the entrance. People kept coming to the door from inside the store, leaving happy with their soap and art, but stopping short as the door opened because the crowd of people holding their cell/cameras in the air must be a pretty arresting and unexpected sight. Unfortunately that pause right in the same spot each time put them in the perfect shoulder-to-shoulder pose next to the statue.
posted by carsonb at 7:13 AM on August 19, 2016


I should clarify that I read this thread too: I think the artwork is gross not because Donald Trump has a saggy, fat, old man's body or because the statue has a small penis and no balls—But because body shaming is gross and this whole stunt is a furthering of the general direction political discourse has taken in my time of adult awareness and that's also gross.
posted by carsonb at 7:18 AM on August 19, 2016 [1 favorite]


And Trump doesn't care! The man has had actual Holocaust survivors compare him to Hitler and it didn't ding his vanity; you think this is going to do it?

Yes? With all due respect you don't sound like you've been around many narcissists or have learned how skilled they are at projecting unflappableness to the uninitiated. Dude is full of rage and easily trolled.
posted by aydeejones at 7:44 AM on August 19, 2016 [2 favorites]


Honestly I think choosing to see this as some sort of identitarian attack just reflects the reflexive tendency of liberals (not leftists) to completely miss the way narratives like Trump's and counter narratives like this work on the working class. Some of us forget that Rubio actually baited him on peen size in an effort to pander at "that level." We must be cognizant of contempt for the more "easily entertained" who are often subjected to upbringings rooted in fragile masculinity. Sure, all men are exposed to it in one way or another but it uniquely strikes the heart of the working class man.

It's definitely problematic and below the belt but it's getting down and dirty on his level appealing to a more universal than you might think sense of humor. Yes it's repulsive and gross. The same could be said for how many liberals interpret the jokes and tropes of the working class. Life is complicated. I don't mean to denigrate anyone and yeah I totally struggle with the constant association with "balls" and masculinity, it's dumb, and it's sort of funny metaphor because they make us so vulnerable to attack from violence and aging.
posted by aydeejones at 7:51 AM on August 19, 2016 [2 favorites]


I totally get the humanization angle too. Reminds me of the Mr. Burns painting episode of the Simpsons and the word "vulnerable" therein
posted by aydeejones at 7:54 AM on August 19, 2016 [3 favorites]


I don't think one could really claim this is satire of Trump's body shaming. It's just a response to him in his own language. But you know, a lot of people do seem to be hearing that language...
posted by atoxyl at 8:42 AM on August 19, 2016


Apparently the founder of Indecline is the guy behind Bumfights back in the day so uh there's that.
posted by atoxyl at 8:47 AM on August 19, 2016


Yup, fuck these guys.
posted by Artw at 8:52 AM on August 19, 2016


(Also actually I wonder if a reminder of bodily frailty might reinforce the appeal of authoritarianism? Like I said if it can actually undermine Trump's strongman image that's one thing but can it?)
posted by atoxyl at 8:55 AM on August 19, 2016


Yes it's repulsive and gross. The same could be said for how many liberals interpret the jokes and tropes of the working class.

I can't figure out where you're getting that people who find the statue funny are working-class and people who find it off-putting aren't. It seems more like what you're saying is that it's lowbrow and appeals to a mainstream sense of humor-- it's a Sausage Party kind of joke-- which, yeah, it is. I think it's a joke that relies on a horror of bodies outside a typical gender configuration. I'm not surprised that more people care about trolling Trump than whether it's insulting to a minority. I still hate it.
posted by thetortoise at 9:00 AM on August 19, 2016


Apparently the founder of Indecline is the guy behind Bumfights back in the day so uh there's that.


Wait, really? I'm seeing on Wikipedia that Ryen McPherson made a video that was released with an indecline stencil but how involved is he currently with this group or this project?
posted by Slarty Bartfast at 9:07 AM on August 19, 2016


To trot out a term from my old humor theory books, the statue is satirical in the sense that it's carnivalesque: a celebration of grotesquerie, an inverting of the existing order, a suspension of taste, a way of poking fun at the powerful when the powerless feel they have no other tools. You can argue all day about how revolutionary a particular work of carnivalesque art is, or whether its selection of grotesque images relies on hegemony (devaluing certain bodies already hated) for its impact. Which is where we are now.
posted by thetortoise at 9:21 AM on August 19, 2016 [1 favorite]


Wait, really? I'm seeing on Wikipedia that Ryen McPherson made a video that was released with an indecline stencil but how involved is he currently with this group or this project?

I saw it reported he was a core member of the group - couldn't say for sure whether it's true? He's not the one who made the statues.
posted by atoxyl at 9:28 AM on August 19, 2016


Trump has consistently run on the theme of being a "strong man", one who "always wins", and his campaign staff have sort of crafted a cult of personality around him and these themes. When the size of hands was called into question, he immediately responded by boasting about his penis size. His laughably poor forgery of a doctor's note that the media gave him an inexplicable pass on referenced his "amazingly excellent" health and made note of the fact his test results were "only positive".

His entire outward persona is predicated on presenting himself as some sort of übermensch, and that may very well get this dangerously unstable, vindictive, petty man elected to what is arguably the most powerful position on earth.

Given that background, I see absolutely nothing wrong - and everything right - with public art that pierces the puffery, especially if it serves to introduce cracks into his public façade. Furthermore, I think the "body shaming is bad, mmm-kay?" comments in this thread are, well, political correctness gone mad. It's like saying we should feel sympathetic for Hitler because he had Crohn's disease. Trump and his campaign are an existential threat to the republic, and people are upset that this gesture is "body-shaming"? Please. This is a perfect example of "punching up", and Trump does not need anyone's heart bleeding on his behalf.
posted by kcds at 10:17 AM on August 19, 2016 [7 favorites]


IMHO also, this work is great because of the history of artists, serving demagogues, and the powerful. After all, we have a long historic record of conquerors, kings, murderous religious rulers, all shown in their most powerful and beautiful physicality, prepared by skilled artists and artisans; well paid by the likes of Julius Caesar, Alexander the great, Genghis Khan, all of the dynastic rulers, Kings, Queens, Generals, whoremongers, warmongers. These artists spent their own cash to put up the statues of their choice, within a free society. Something to be admired in this.

Taking off the power suit, the uniform, the camouflage, the sacred robe, the modest attire and attendant head gear, puts the would-bes, in proper perspective. I am reminded of Marquez's Autumn of the General, a frank piece about the excesses of power, played out privately.
posted by Oyéah at 10:30 AM on August 19, 2016 [2 favorites]


It's like saying we should feel sympathetic for Hitler because he had Crohn's disease.

Nah, it's like saying that we shouldn't be shitty about Crohn's disease just because it's something that a horrible fucker like Hitler had.

I have complicated feelings about the stunt because I think there's both some powerful deflation/contesting of Trump's bluster and image and ego wrapped up in it but also think it's got some shitty knock-on effects by essentially supporting and legitimizing being shitty about people's bodies in the course of trying to take a shot at Trump. It's hard to separate the two; they're wrapped up together, in a way that's pretty fundamental to the execution of the stunt. It's fighting ugliness with ugliness. It's effective in a way that depends on it being deliberately shitty about something that reaches beyond just the target. These are ideas that are in tension, but they aren't mutually exclusive and one can feel strongly about either or both aspects without contradiction.

Political correctness going mad tends most of the time to look like people having opinions that other people don't subscribe to. It's a pretty civil, sane sort of madness; I always kind of blink when I see the idea of it, of PC just going too far this time, invoked in the wild. That that of all things is what moves someone to draw a line in the sand, to say, at last, there is a wrong in the world that must be addressed.

Because the world is chock full of wrongs that have far sharper claws and far nastier bites than someone saying "hey, this is kinda being shitty to people and that sucks and we'd be better off if we tried to avoid that".
posted by cortex at 10:50 AM on August 19, 2016 [14 favorites]


A more effective, non-bodyshaming way to do this would be to make the sculpture with normal genitalia and then put a giant golden strap on over his mouth, to emphasize his toxic masculinity, projection, and demagoguery. This particular castrated sculpture just traffics in the same old alpha/beta/c*ckservative homophobic panic crap that the (G)alt-right revels in. Gross.
posted by Existential Dread at 11:19 AM on August 19, 2016 [2 favorites]


The only responsible way to pose for a selfie with that thing from now on is stark naked, with a supportive arm around its shoulder.

The Stranger weighs in.

Also, the fact that I've vacillated between positions on this piece and am settling somewhere "I'm deeply uncomfortable with how much I like this" is itself remarkable for a work like this and I'm not sure this was unintended by the artist.
posted by Slarty Bartfast at 11:32 AM on August 19, 2016 [2 favorites]


kdcs, I was nodding along with you right until I got to 'political correctness gone mad', and that is where you lost me. People have a right to see this as body shaming, and to feel upset or disgusted about that. I'm not sure whether I agree with them but they still get to have that opinion and express it.
posted by Too-Ticky at 11:33 AM on August 19, 2016 [3 favorites]


When the size of hands was called into question, he immediately responded by boasting about his penis size

That's not really correct. The small hands jibe has been floating around for almost 30 years now; the origin was Spy Magazine. This year Rubio picked it up and said "you know what they say about men with small hands", which was understood to be a jibe at the size of Trump's penis. To which Trump responded in the national debate "I guarantee there's no problem".

Trump didn't boast about his penis size. He didn't do it immediately. He didn't bring his penis up himself, he responded to something Rubio had said earlier. What he did do, which was very effective, was make a joke about it on national TV. That killed, btw, the whole crowd is laughing.

There are many, many horrible things about Donald Trump and what he says. I don't think this is one of them.
posted by Nelson at 11:35 AM on August 19, 2016


the discourse 😩👌
posted by griphus at 11:47 AM on August 19, 2016 [3 favorites]


Cat Graffam:
that naked trump statue all you are laughing at is intersexist garbage and you all make me, and lots of other intersex ppl uncomfortable

that could be what my junk looks like? that could be what my intersex friends junk looks like? i see you ppl. i always do

imagine if the artist dressed up trump in womens clothing? all you queer folks would lose it. but this? laughs.
posted by WCWedin at 11:49 AM on August 19, 2016 [2 favorites]


Now that the joke is good and dead, it's easy to see that the joke rests on assumptions about what men should look like.

What the writer of the Stranger op-ed misunderstands, and what many seem to misunderstand, is that the joke rests on Trump's very public statements about what constitutes ideal male identity.
posted by a lungful of dragon at 11:52 AM on August 19, 2016


As needsmorecowbell mentions, there are often nudists hanging out on this corner. Many of them are older and overweight. I happen to live less than a block away, so this sight is often part of my morning commute.

It did not feel like an absurdist spin on Trump joining the nudists.

When I first saw it, there were two EMTs taking pictures with it. My first thought was that one of the nudists had spraypainted himself orange to make a political statement. Not my thing, but whatever. And then I noticed he wasn't moving, and wondered if he was doing a living statue. And then I was close enough I could see that it's clearly foam, and not skin.

I decided to cross the street to see what the fuss was about. And I was uncomfortable how painstakingly they worked to get the blue veins under the cheeto orange exterior. It just dug in how limited we are in controlling our visage. This wasn't the orange of a man who didn't notice the bad spray tan, but the orange of a man who knew his age damaged skin wasn't acceptable to a vain electorate.

And then I looked down and saw the plaque, noting that he didn't have balls. And that was the first time I thought I should be staring at his package. And it felt so uncomfortable, I couldn't bring myself to validate if he truly didn't have balls, or if it was just a ken doll where it's all implied to be there. Because it was standing in a place where I'm regularly asked to be a civilized human being and see naked people as people, and not zoo animals. And it's not that it's hard, but it is something that people regularly fail to do.

And of course it goes beyond that. It highlighted the fact that the older white gay men who enjoy being nudists are the privileged folks of a marginalized community. The Trump penis is made adorably small. And it reminded me of my livejournal days. A transwoman I followed was discussing her options for bottom surgery. And luckily I hadn't brought up my assumptions before, because private parts are private, but I assumed that was obviously the goal. But she posted a lot of pictures of other options that would simply shrink her penis into something that felt non-male to her. And it wasn't that this would be "sufficient" to diffuse the gender dysmorphia for her, but that it was adorable and how cool is it that we can have this much control over our body.

And the rest of the morning I mulled over how transformative a conversation it was. It butts up against my own feelings of gender, or the fact that I still don't have any innate feelings of gender. I just don't feel any discomfort with the fact that society gave me a gender, and I'll work with that. But I was in awe that out of pain, she had managed to find beauty in her uniqueness.

Which is to say that the piece did not make me think about Trump at all. It made me think about how the language we use to discuss Trump is about all the disenfranchised voices. And when done by the disenfranchised, we can perhaps make an argument that Trump should understand how we feel. But when done by an anonymous art group, the meaning is much more malleable and personal. It hits hardest at those who see this as a reflection that they are a manifestation of the worst thing you can call Trump.

It hits me hard because I have anxiety and depression. And there is so much stigma about what people like me are capable of, and whether we should be allowed high functioning well paying jobs. And so I'm not out at work because the risk is too high. When we use this language about Trump, we're not insulting Trump, we're dragging millions of other people into the conversation and reaffirming our disgust of them.
posted by politikitty at 11:53 AM on August 19, 2016 [5 favorites]


What the writer of the Stranger op-ed misunderstands, and what many seem to misunderstand, is that the joke rests on Trump's very public statements about what constitutes ideal male identity.

Generally if a joke is consistently being misunderstood over and over again, that's the hallmark of a Bad Joke.
posted by griphus at 11:53 AM on August 19, 2016 [3 favorites]


It's like saying we should feel sympathetic for Hitler because he had Crohn's disease.

No, it's not the same thing. Trump probably doesn't have a micropenis (based on statistics), and probably has testicles.

This is literally no different than calling a bully a "f*ggot." I'm sure it's blatantly obvious to everyone reading this that there's nothing wrong with being gay, and it shouldn't be used as an insult. People Photoshop Obama as a monkey. Is that a legitimate critique of him from the right? Of course not, even though they hate him as much as we hate Trump.

Trump and his campaign are an existential threat to the republic, and people are upset that this gesture is "body-shaming"? Please. This is a perfect example of "punching up", and Trump does not need anyone's heart bleeding on his behalf.

I don't care if Trump's feelings are hurt. I care about all the people who may look like these statues, or some aspect of them, who are being insulted by proxy.
posted by AFABulous at 11:57 AM on August 19, 2016 [3 favorites]


A more effective, non-bodyshaming way to do this

Effective to whom? I mean the entire reason I don't dismiss this project out of hand is that there is some psychology connecting authoritarianism with disgust and preoccupation with deviant corporeality not to mention of course submission to a traditional patriarch figure. So as ugly a tactic as this is it might seriously kinda be addressing Trump fandom on its own wavelength? But then like I said I don't know that it isn't just pushing the same buttons even harder.

Obviously even if it is effective you don't have to agree that it's worth the harm of engaging on this level anyway. But it doesn't always work out to be the one to take the high road.
posted by atoxyl at 11:58 AM on August 19, 2016


Generally if a joke is consistently being misunderstood over and over again, that's the hallmark of a Bad Joke.

Maybe, but whether a joke is objectively "good" or "bad", if it is possible to say that, the reality is that this joke is only a joke because Trump is the target, because Trump is the statue's target of ridicule.
posted by a lungful of dragon at 11:58 AM on August 19, 2016


and to those who don't think this is bodyshaming at all... do you really think they'd make these statues if Trump looked like Chris Hemsworth?
posted by AFABulous at 11:59 AM on August 19, 2016 [1 favorite]


Well it's not Trump's real body either but if anything that makes it more haphazardly targeted (since someone picked this body type to insult Trump).
posted by atoxyl at 12:08 PM on August 19, 2016


Shade Court Docket #2015JZ000163: NYC Parks Department v. Donald Trump
The Ruling: Shade, oh my god
posted by Etrigan at 12:20 PM on August 19, 2016 [5 favorites]


kdcs, feel free to consider it political correctness gone mad, and I'll continue to consider it something that trades on hateful stereotypes while being completely ineffective (as this statue will change exactly zero minds about Trump).
posted by Gaz Errant at 12:22 PM on August 19, 2016 [3 favorites]


It would be weird to deliberately avoid caricaturing Trump if he were for some reason to look like Hemsworth. In general, I can't think of many political cartoonists (in all mediums, be it in the form of drawings on paper or on screen, or in paintings or in sculptures, or imitations on late-night television shows, etc.) who have deliberately avoided commenting on the behavior of politicians who look like beefcake.

If anything, in this form of art, a politician is fair game to have their physical features, their voice, their mannerisms, and so on get caricatured if it helps "punch up" in response to that person's actions.

If Trump looked like Hemsworth and still talked about his genitals in a public forum while also bullying women, Muslims, and disabled people, amongst others, I'd bet artists would still process and comment on that behavior — maybe even with statues.

Maybe sculptors are not considered serious enough to have their work taken seriously. But I'll bet Gore is treated as a "serious artist", so I'll quote what she has to say, as someone who caricatured Trump in a nearly identical way: "[I]f I painted Trump with a massive penis, why would we then take it as a signal that he is powerful? Why would a small penis be viewed as effeminate? And what is wrong with effeminacy to begin with?"
posted by a lungful of dragon at 12:24 PM on August 19, 2016 [1 favorite]


If anything, in this form of art, a politician is fair game to have their physical features, their voice, their mannerisms, and so on get caricatured if it helps "punch up" in response to that person's actions.

Co-opting fat and intersex bodies to shame someone you hate is not punching up. If you have to punch down in order to punch up, you are not punching up.

"[I]f I painted Trump with a massive penis, why would we then take it as a signal that he is powerful? Why would a small penis be viewed as effeminate? And what is wrong with effeminacy to begin with?"

Because we live in a culture that devalues femininity. And this piece contributes to that.
posted by WCWedin at 12:33 PM on August 19, 2016 [4 favorites]


Well, we live in a culture that devalues femininity in men, and not incidentally devalues masculinity in women. I don't think society underrates the "importance" of feminine women or masculine men.

Basically a sort of overarching simple-mindedness.

(In some ways it's a good fit for the juvenile nature of this election season, when even the tamest disagreements seem to somehow be a hair trigger away from accusations of misogyny or naziism.)
posted by rokusan at 12:42 PM on August 19, 2016


I don't think society underrates the "importance" of feminine women

I got $0.78 that says you're wrong.
posted by Etrigan at 12:44 PM on August 19, 2016 [9 favorites]


Well, we live in a culture that devalues femininity in men, and not incidentally devalues masculinity in women. I don't think society underrates the "importance" of feminine women or masculine men.

You are literally saying this to a trans femme lesbian.
posted by WCWedin at 12:50 PM on August 19, 2016


I think this culture is pretty great at devaluing femininity and masculinity in women, but this sure isn't the thread I'd pick to hash all the nuances out.
posted by thetortoise at 12:57 PM on August 19, 2016 [2 favorites]


Well, that's easy.

But I have to think that those who think women somehow deserve 78 cents would, indeed, prefer them to be, like, less concerned with matters of money and career and such, and instead be more worried about their attractiveness; to be remarginalized and in their view "act more feminine". So, yeah, they're equating womanhood with traditional femininity and valuing women based on that (overrating, not underrating), and that value system infects society in a diluted but still nasty way as it trickles all over.

Is what I meant. Anyway.

Also, and on topic: yes, those statues are dumb because they're lowering the level of political discourse even further (didn't think it possible this year) and will probably lead to much more offensive "responses". Ick.
posted by rokusan at 12:58 PM on August 19, 2016


I don't disagree with this, either, tortoise. That's clearly where we live, yes.
posted by rokusan at 12:58 PM on August 19, 2016


The statue would be funnier if it had a statistically average penis but itty bitty baby hands.
posted by BungaDunga at 1:01 PM on August 19, 2016 [6 favorites]


I'm as conflicted about this as some of you are. The discussion here has been very thoughtful, and I appreciate that. I found the whole thing silly and funny at first, due to the subject. But I also sympathize with those who feel it's body shaming. I personally don't like the idea of "balls" as a sign of masculinity, because they're the weakest part of the male body. It makes no sense that having bigger balls is a good thing. Furthermore, a "pussy" is the toughest thing in a female body, with the ability to pass a baby human through it.

I think this is a pointed way to strike at him, but it's crude and brings them down to his level. Although with their founder being the creator of bumfights, I shouldn't really expect much. I'm inclined to smirk, shake my head, then stand back and let this be between him and Indecline.
posted by numaner at 1:16 PM on August 19, 2016


The realms of "masculine enough" and "feminine enough" in western cultural consensus do not overlap for women. It's a double bind.

The problem here is that, subjugation and stereotypes aside, femininity is still seen as lesser, more frivolous, weaker than masculinity. Femininity is debased and disempowered. And in stripping a person of the existentialist bodily artifacts of masculinity, this piece is attempting to strip him of his power, attempting to debase him. This piece isn't equating masculinity and strength; it is leveraging the presumption of that equality in the audience. The landscape of gender policing is not even close to a flat plane. Consider that Hillary Clinton could be similarly attacked by making her appear either too masculine or too feminine.

This, even then, is setting aside the fact that genitals have absolutely nothing to do with masculinity, and also that real people have real genitals that look like the statues', for the love of god. The problems with these statues are not exclusively political; they are profound, inherent, and manifold.
posted by WCWedin at 1:29 PM on August 19, 2016 [1 favorite]


Although I hate using the Huffington Post as a source for anything, this quotation is telling:

"We reached out to Indecline to learn about their motivation behind the project ― specifically, the lack of testicles in their artistic interpretation. 'We decided to depict Trump without his balls because we refuse to acknowledge that he is a man,' Indecline responded. 'He is a small arrogant child and thus, has nothing in the way of testicles.'"

So yes, in these peoples' eyes testicles equal manliness. And those without them (by birth, disease, accident, etc.) aren't men. That is a lousy message to send, and reaches out well past criticizing a single person or that person's political views.

If they wanted to depict Trump's infantile or childish nature they should have put him in diapers and given him a pacifier.
posted by sardonyx at 1:39 PM on August 19, 2016 [13 favorites]


I regret how much I liked this at first glance. was definitely seeing thought in it that wasn't there.
posted by You Can't Tip a Buick at 1:41 PM on August 19, 2016 [5 favorites]


My first clue that they might have shitty attitudes about bodies and masculinity was that they made this statue and called it "the emperor has no balls." And yet their statement was actually way more explicitly shitty than I was expecting it to be. Yeesh.
posted by teponaztli at 1:52 PM on August 19, 2016 [2 favorites]


GO HOME, INDECLINE, YOU'RE DRUNKTERRIBLE
posted by Rev. Syung Myung Me at 2:17 PM on August 19, 2016 [2 favorites]


“We decided to depict Trump without his balls because we refuse to acknowledge that he is a man,” Indecline responded. “He is a small arrogant child and thus, has nothing in the way of testicles.”

Yes, ok, I now think these people are terrible as opposed to subtle.
posted by Going To Maine at 2:19 PM on August 19, 2016 [7 favorites]


Ridicule. For when there are no winning arguments.
posted by Twang at 2:31 PM on August 19, 2016


I frequently hear well-meaning men say of some rapist or asshole, "That's no man. That's a pitiful boy, that's an imbecile, a real man isn't..." Which: no. There's not a third category of trash people into which you can dump all the false Scotsmen. I don't know exactly how I feel about these statues, but I do know how I feel about that argument.
posted by Countess Elena at 3:51 PM on August 19, 2016 [3 favorites]


Yes, Elena. So Scotsman.

When you say "(not a) real man", well-meaning person, perhaps you mean "(not a) decent human being" instead?

At which point, of course, you don't really need to label the gender. "A real decent person wouldn't do that"
posted by rokusan at 4:03 PM on August 19, 2016 [1 favorite]


Back in the 1980s, someone kept stealing food from the refrigerator in the building where I worked. I was asked to post a sign warning off this person (because I was the best artist). I started to draw a picture of a fat person stealing the food, but I thought: That's ridiculous- being fat has nothing to do with stealing food. Thomas Nast could get away with portraying Boss Tweed as a glutton, but I can't do that NOW. There was also no ethnic group or age or gender that was positively associated with food theft. Drawing a pig was out, too. That was just a step away from saying "fat" and anyway, pigs are sweet. I ended up drawing a pathetic "burglar" in a striped outfit and mask.

It taught me a lesson. Compassion is the death of satire, but also the death of lazy thinking. When I had to draw an anti-Reagan tee shirt design, I drew Reagan in a trash can and I have no regrets.
posted by acrasis at 4:50 PM on August 19, 2016 [5 favorites]


Well, acrasis, your drawing was a bit anti-mimist.
posted by rokusan at 5:14 PM on August 19, 2016 [1 favorite]


Acrasis, you need to spend more time listening to mime voices.
posted by sebastienbailard at 5:18 PM on August 19, 2016 [4 favorites]


the joke rests on Trump's very public statements about what constitutes ideal male identity

I think the joke rests on his very public statements about women and what constitutes femininity. He has been very specific about how women must look to be considered beautiful by him. Heck he runs beauty pageants. It is about the standards he holds everyone else to.
posted by Oyéah at 5:36 PM on August 19, 2016 [3 favorites]


I would like to say I neither pointed, nor laughed, at this statue. and yet.... I cannot condemn it.
posted by some loser at 9:58 PM on August 19, 2016


I can condemn it. And yet, I laughed.
posted by Too-Ticky at 12:49 AM on August 20, 2016


There's a specific idea of the male body that is historically associated with fascism (see the very interesting Male Fantasies: Women, Bodies, Floods History for further in re Nazi Germany). The male fascist body - the ideal body - is hard-not-soft, defined-not-blurred-edged, young not old, muscular, symmetrical, an object of admiration or sexualized admiration but not desire, well-not-sick, etc.

That's what bugs me about the complaints about body-shaming. A non-body-shaming nude statue of Trump would be way too uncomfortably reminiscent of fascist iconography. And if you depict Trump clothed in his regular suit and tie, you're just making him look powerful & completely undermining the political message. I supposed you could do something like have a sculpture of Trump in a clown suit, but that doesn't invoke the fairy tale of "The Emperor's New Clothes" and how power is perpetuated through the populace's participation in their own self-delusion. Yes, the statue gets people to point and laugh at Trump, but that's precisely the point. By getting people to point and laugh at Trump, we drain Trump of his power.
posted by jonp72 at 9:29 AM on August 20, 2016 [2 favorites]


A friend of mine wrote an essay on Facebook about something Bertolt Brecht said about Hitler while Brecht was in exile. It's seems oddly apropos in the discussion about this naked Trump statue:

America, you now finally have yourself a presidential candidate whose political campaign is, if not exactly fascist, then close enough to make an interesting essay question for academic hair-splitters. I have been worrying a lot about how we should respond. Ignore him because he thrives on attention? (But what if that doesn’t make him go away?) Argue against his assertions? (But what if his claims aren’t based on reasoned argument?) Mock him for his appearance, or his foibles? (But what if you don’t think that politics should come down to who looks funny, or who is weak?)

Every option feels like a trap. I spent a lot of last year reading things by Bertolt Brecht, whose genius was to see traps like this everywhere. And so, this winter, as I’ve been fretting about the sorry condition of American democracy, I’ve also been thinking about Brecht’s “Argument against Hitler,” a fragment of an essay that he wrote shortly after the collapse of German democracy, when he was in exile. When every option is wrong, Brecht seems to be arguing, every option is equally right. Here’s my translation.

In the summer of 1933 I spoke with a few acquaintances about Hitler. He had thrown tens of thousands of German workers into prison and concentration camps, or had them murdered, and he had driven us all away, so the conversation took place in Paris. Someone said that he often ran into the painter at the pub in Munich in the old days, and that in those days the painter would let you spit in his face for one mark. The man who told this story added that he would never tell this true story to any audience larger than our small circle because, he said, that is not really an argument against a man like that.

Then one of my friends, who was a Communist, said, “Even that is an argument against a man like that. To me, everything is an argument against a man like that.”

That was my opinion, too.

posted by jonp72 at 9:41 AM on August 20, 2016


If you poke around on the internet, you find a lot of really gross, creepy, rapey, hateful portrayals of Margaret Thatcher by men of the UK left. They do not hold up well. I'm sure that those men thought that sexualized caricatures of Thatcher were fair game because she was awful. I surmise that semi-consciously those men enjoyed the opportunity to engage in sexualized hate, because people tend to find that fun and many of the images have a certain...zest. I don't think any amount of stories about how bad Thatcher was could make those images look any better or more fun for this queer AFAB person now, and if zombie Brecht were to say that they were okay because indeed Thatcher was very bad, I would think a lot less of zombie Brecht.

We have lots and lots of racist, misogynist, homophobic and anti-Semitic caricatures of awful political figures available to us. We know how they look in time's long glass. We know how this plays out. You build a momentary "alliance" of people who hate Trump by calling on them to hate weak, old, feminized bodies and then you're absolutely fucking baffled later on when it turns out that people who hate weak, old, feminized bodies are not actually that great citizens.
posted by Frowner at 9:52 AM on August 20, 2016 [6 favorites]


Those Trump Statues Aren't Funny, And They Sure Aren't Progressive written by activist Marissa Johnson for The Establishment.
posted by SarahElizaP at 10:57 PM on August 20, 2016 [2 favorites]


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