The infamous wrestling meme was made by a Redditor called HanAssholeSolo and modified to attack ‘fraud’ CNN – the gif and its delivery is the fakest news there is
This is where we are now: The President of the United States is tweeting gifs he stole from a Redditor with the username HanAssholeSolo (more about him later) of him appearing at Wrestlemania in 2007 wrestling VinceMcMahon to the ground, except McMahon’s head is swapped for the logo of news network CNN, a piece of media to support Donald Trump’s not-very-catchy campaign to “change the name” of CNN to #FraudNewsNetwork., a gif intended to lend credence to the concept that Trump is “beating” the news.
The irony is perhaps lost on Trump – a man who you all know by now hangs fake TIME covers of himself in his golf clubs – that the surreal apex of his crusade against fake news is a clip of him having a fake fight at a wrestling event, notoriously the fakest sport, even if some of those who follow it refuse to believe it isn’t real, much like many of Trump’s devout and immovable supporters who follow his seemingly eternal campaign.
The gif is certainly true to Trump’s personality and aura, a staged, undignified, macho scramble for power in the supersized, all-American world of celebrity TV. While most world leaders may want to brush such television appearances under the carpet following their appointments as heads of state, Trump naturally sees this embrace of his past as an attribute, one he coined clunkily as “MODERN DAY PRESIDENTIAL”.
My use of social media is not Presidential - it’s MODERN DAY PRESIDENTIAL. Make America Great Again!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) July 1, 2017
It feels grimly inevitable that the president is tweeting wrestling gifs in a bit to discredit “the mainstream media” – it’s an almost unprecedented level of base stupidity, a captivating combination of harrowing and hilarious. How did we get here?
“Disclaimer: I have no idea if Trump deep dives on Reddit, or he gets Sean Spicer to do it for him, but both images are equally ridiculous”
But a look at where Trump stole the gif from and things become less amusing (Disclaimer: I have no idea if Trump deep dives on Reddit, or he gets Sean Spicer to do it for him, but both images are equally ridiculous). HanAssholeSolo is a disciple of Pepe, a user who posts about how in “America it’s blame the white person”, discusses his dislike of “oral sex at Pride happening in broad daylight” and refers to people as “cucking ducks”, an archetypal alt-righter, one who greeted the news of Trump tweeting his video with the words “Holy shit!! I wake up and have my morning coffee and who retweets my shitpost but the MAGA Emporer (sic) himself!!! I am honored”.
It’s representative of a new era of pseudo-populist nihilism – attitudes and memes that foster in subreddits such as The_Donald that then become state-endorsed means of communication under the pretence that these ‘wool-removing’ tweets are for the good of the ordinary citizen. As one law professor noted, “Reporters can’t let other GOP officials get away with ‘I’m not going to talk about Trump’s tweets anymore. The tweets ARE his presidency.” That the president posts videos taken from weirdo Redditors and then retweets them from the official @POTUS account is funny, depressing and completely alarming.
Trump’s Wrestlemania #FNN bodyslam has, not so long ago, played out in real life – Guardian reporter Ben Jacobs was thrown to the ground by Republican candidate Greg Gianforte after asking a routine question. Gianforte has since been charged and sentenced to community service, but irrespective of the incident Trump still insists on leading a relentlessly hostile (and extremely dull) assault on the press, singling networks and journalists out in an attempt to cultivate and feed waves of distrust against the media. It crossed over to being dangerous a long time ago.
“It’s representative of a new era of pseudo-populist nihilism – attitudes and memes that foster in subreddits such as The_Donald and then become state-endorsed means of communication”
The original Trump v McMahon bout was billed as the “Battle Of The Billionaires”, a match where wrestlers represented each of the men, had been preceded a month earlier by Trump dropping piles of cash into the ring and features Trump clotheslining his business partner and false enemy. Trump reposting a gif of himself fake fighting another insanely wealthy man is not just a pretty tight metaphor for his life, but more evidence of his mind still being inextricably wedded to reality TV, the scripted form of entertainment that we (mostly) all know isn’t real, yet its USP is that it is. He doesn’t hate the media, he is the media, he simply hates the feeling that he’s lost control, a feeling he’s certainly au fait with just six months into his presidency.
Trump tweeting himself clotheslining someone embodies a new age of shameless surrealism, spearheaded by himself and ironically his adversary, keen photoshopper Vladimir Putin. The wrestling gif is a fake of something fake stolen from Reddit, relayed through unofficial, super-powerful social channels, a meme designed to divide that depicts the President writhing on the floor, caught in the addictive, inauthentic thralls of showbiz. The gif isn’t horrible in and of itself, but acts as a galling representation of just how plain weird his presidency is, and comes just days after slamming news anchor Mika Brzezinski’s intellect and appearance.
Trump has done some heinous things as president, with the Muslim ban or withdrawing from the Paris Accord just two examples. Even just 24 hours is enough time for him to plot total ruination. His Wrestlemania video isn’t really something that you’d expect a president to do, but neither is rejecting people from a country based on race or religion, or conspiring to end the world. Put simply, he’s a total weirdo, the fakest news there is.