. (Photo by Jack Taylor/Getty Images)
Tomorrow 50,000 people are expected to take to the streets of central London to protest against Donald Trump’s state visit. Campaigners are incensed with the US President’s travel ban, misogynistic rhetoric, and now the family separation policy – a scandal that has plagued his administration for months.
You’ve probably already heard that a group of activists are planning to fly a 20ft orange blimp depicting Donald Trump as an enraged, smartphone wielding baby, wearing nothing but a nappy, over the skies of London during the march. Sadiq Khan granted permission for the balloon to fly above Parliament Square, claiming it amounts to an act of protest.
As Trump holds meetings with the Prime Minister and the Queen his balloon counterpart will loom over the protest.
The symbolism is obvious: Trump is childish, cartoonish, full of hot air, impulsive with a smart phone. Those things are all true. But the stunt is neither clever nor productive.
There are many legitimate causes to protest during this visit. His administration’s irredeemably cruel family separation policy is just one. Not to mention the multiple allegations of sexual assault and whatever the hell is going on between him and Russia.
But the protest is supposed to be about rejecting Trump’s values, not his physical appearance. What someone looks like will never be legitimate cause for protest.
Its not even original. A set of naked statues of Donald Trump, one of which was displayed in Central Park in 2016, is set to be sold to the highest bidder at Julien’s Auctions in California. The sculpture, designed by activist group Indecline, depicting Donald Trump unclothed, beer-bellied and orange is expected to go for nearly $30,000.
So weaponising Trump’s appearance in protest is not a new phenomenon. But what point is it making exactly? We don’t want you here because you’re fat and have a bad tan. What kind of message is that?
Satire is important, and humour is a powerful tool in activism. But this is not good satire, nor is it funny. It’s reductionist, immature and on the nose nonsense that irreconcilably compromises valid rejections of Trump’s values.
This is not the mark of sophisticated resistance, or mature political dialogue. It is sinking to his level. The balloon portrays him as angry, infantile, stupid. But isn’t flying the balloon the most infantile thing campaigners could do? This Trump balloon is about as mature and nuanced as Trump himself.