Exploiting our Archives, Paternity Leave Edition: The Trump-Loving Patriotic Kitsch of Ben Garrison
As readers of this website, and particularly this blog, are no doubt aware, I am fascinated by the near-religious faith of the Deplorables, Donald Trump super-fans who remain ferociously devoted to their man no matter how unconscionably he behaves.
I’m particularly intrigued by the cognitive dissonance required to look at a barely literate, rage-filled man-child, definite sexual predator and probable sex criminal who’s damn near the poster boy for Narcissistic Personality Disorder and see a good, kind, moral man divinely anointed by Jesus himself to Make America Christian again.
So it’s not surprising that I have spent a fair amount of time ironically “admiring” the artwork of political cartoonist Ben Garrison, whose gaudy, ham-fisted tributes to Trump’s saintliness and impeccable moral character would qualify as hilarious, if over the top parodies of Trump love at its most unhinged if they were not achingly, hilariously sincere and earnest.
Or are they sincere and earnest? Because if Garrison’s “rogue cartoonist” shtick was an Andy Kaufman-like exercise in pop culture performance art it’d be goddamned brilliant. He reminds me a lot of “Kelly”, the fake political cartoonist from The Onion who can always be counted upon to have the worst, most insane take on any issue, except that Garrison actually seems to believe the things he’s writing.
Garrison is perhaps best known for the way that he draws Trump. In Garrison’s admiring eyes, Trump is not a dumpy, seriously overweight seventy one year old in shapeless, unflattering, ill-fitting suits with comically long ties or all-white golfing gear that makes him look like a giant toddler-man perpetually in danger of ruining his white pants by shitting himself in anger and rage.
No, the Trump of Garrison’s vivid imagination is a straight up stud. He’s a cross between a golden god and a romance novel hunk. In one particularly adoring comic strip, Trump is literally a white knight single-handedly destroying the dragon of Political Correctness, to the horror of Jeb Bush, who is depicted as a hysterical damsel who, like everyone bad in Garrison’s work, is driven to a state of insanity and desperation by the astonishing, almost preternatural brilliance of Trump as a politician and a leader.
Oftentimes Trump is depicted as being much bigger than his critics and detractors, his physical enormity reflecting his stature as a moral giant looming over the little swamp people trying to keep him down.
In our world, Trump exists in a state of perpetual aggravation, lashing out constantly and carelessly at enemies real and imagined, never more than a few seconds or an imagined slight away from exploding with rage.
In Garrison’s looking glass world, it’s Trump’s enemies who are sweating and nervous, angry and petulant, prone to childish tantrums while Trump is cool as a cucumber, unflappable, an even-keeled grown-up in a world of overgrown babies. You know, someone like Obama, someone with dignity and class.
In Garrison’s work, however, Obama is an ugly, weasel-faced goblin of a man constantly soaking with sweat as he confronts yet another of Trump’s constant victories.
It’s an old Garrison trick: give Trump the admirable qualities of his enemies in ridiculously over-the-top form while depicting his enemies as decidedly Trumpian figures: angry, paranoid, hopelessly narcissistic, thin-skinned and obsessed with their standing and status in the world.
That’s even more true of Jon McNaughton, a painter who stands as Garrison’s primary competition for the questionable title of most delusionally pro-Trump artist in existence. McNaughton recently made headlines with “With Hunt”, a painting depicting a heroic, stern Trump examining a clearly cowed Mueller through a magnifying glass.
The painting asks viewers who the real guilty party is here, then answers with “Mueller, of course.”
The painting makes its ham-fisted, idiotic point through heavy-handed symbolism as opposed to Garrison’s trademark combination of idiotic symbolism and labored attempts at comedy but the overall message is the same: Donald Trump is a king among men doing God’s work on earth and being challenged on any front by the Commie-loving, Islam-supporting trans minions of the devil and the deep state.
There’s an audience for both “artists” that, somewhat horrifyingly, is only partially made up of people like myself laughing derisively at their work for being unintentionally hilarious yet deeply revealing in their own clumsy way
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