Art has Superpowers

Have you seen the video of President Trump as Thanos released on the Trump campaign twitter account, @TrumpWarRoom?

My first reaction was this was created by a team only after the simplest comparison between the two–he is powerful and victory is inevitable (disregarding Thanos is a villian so ultimately is defeated). But, actually, I fear that the developers knew full well the deeper message.

In the Avengers movies, Thanos is initially a somewhat sympathetic character. He recognizes that continued growth of the universe population and continued use of natural resources is unsustainable. I concur. All sympathy evaporates (say in a cloud of black dust at the snap of a fingers) when we learn his solution is to accumulate the necessary power (doesn’t matter how) so he can literally snap his fingers and instantly eliminate half of all human (and other sentient species) from existence, thus solving the looming environmental crisis. We’ll set aside that this doesn’t actually solve anything, just delays it. To make a long story short, in part one he succeeds with his mission and then five years later in part two the Avengers find a way to defeat Thanos and restore those who were previously “snapped” away by Thanos.

Thanos considered himself chosen to undertake this horrific task to save the universe from itself. He alone could and must do it. At the 2016 GOP nomination convention this is how Donal Trump presented himself, that “I alone can fix it.” Thanos considers himself chosen by destiny for this awesome responsibility. This is how President Trump’s most vocal supporters are now speaking of him–as a chosen vesicle (imperfect as he may be) by God. I don’t think they actually believe this, but are using this to keep the evangelical Christian voting block in line, which might be worse.

Thanos is willing to sacrifice his own (adopted) daughter for his cause. Ok, that one doesn’t work, but Thanos is willing to do anything to accumulate the power needed to achieve his goal. It appears that the entirety of the GOP is willing to allow this president to place himself above precedent, laws, and obstruct accountability from a co-equal branch of government to win an election and maintain power. By acquiescing, they are signalling that the use of donations, influence, voter suppression, misinformation, etc. from foreign powers is now acceptable. This will call into question the legitimacy of any future presidential election.

And then we get to the simplistic interpretation. Trump snaps his fingers and members of a co-equal branch of government opposing his actions literally disappear. This is chilling and horrifying. This is the stuff of a self-aggrandizing dictator who is willing to prosecute, lock up, or make political rivals disappear. Donald Trump claimed he could “stand in the middle of Fifth Avenue and shoot somebody” and not “lose any voters.” Apparently his campaign believes this and is also okay with it. The ends justify the means. Except the don’t. Ever.

This is the power of art. Even when it might not be the intended message of the artist. The art speaks for itself. It’s so powerful that I have a hard time believing that it wasn’t produced as satire by Saturday Night Live or a Democratic presidential campaign.

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