The Trump resistance has become sing-a-long-able, thanks to a 30 -something human from Queens and his YouTube channel
North Korea insists war with America is inevitable! Puerto Rico has no drinking water! Category 5 cyclones remake the coast of Florida! Meanwhile, the American president is calling football players “sons-of-bitches”, deleting tweets that promote failed Senate nominees and invoking Elton John lyrics to insult his North Korean counterpart in front of the UN. You know, while his campaign’s under special investigation for collusion with Russians, street riots erupt against police racism and professional footballers and basketball players become militancy’s new avant-garde. The president, LeBron James said, is” a bum “.
Marshall McLuhan- that strange, cat-brained media philosopher from Canada- predicted all of this.” Politics will eventually be replaced by imagery ,” he told an interviewer from the Toronto Star in 1972.” The legislator will be only too happy to abdicate in favor of his image, because the image is likely to be much more powerful than he could ever be .”
” The successor to politics is likely to be propaganda , not in the sense of a message or ideology, but the impact of the whole technology of the times ,” explained McLuhan. But as much as the technology of the times- from cable news to Facebook shares and Twitter declarations- have created the image of reality TV’s first chairperson, so they are facilitating the most effective the ways and means of his negation. By which I entail, specifically, YouTube clips made by a 30 -something gay man from Queens named Randy Rainbow. That his real name, and he’s taking Trump apart one Broadway showtune at a time.
Rainbow came to New York to find work as a musician. While working at Broadway World, he started making funny YouTube videos that he shared on social media. The first ones involved him use green screens and some clever home editing techniques to insert himself into interviews with celebrities, injecting satire and camp into the banal and the staged. But when Trump’s presidential campaign gathered pace, Rainbow’s videos took a winning political turning. Rainbow wrote himself into the role of debate moderator in an edit of a Trump/ Clinton encounter, and added his own rendition of a Broadway classic.
Rainbow still induces the videos mostly on his own and in his apartment, but now they appear fortnightly. This week’s is a Sound of Music tribute with Rainbow garmented as a nun and as a nun dressed as Elton John, singing” How do you solve a problem like Korea ?” with a John-and-Taupin bridge. Rainbow can really sing and his comic timing is impeccable. It’s not only hilarious, but a reinvigorating reminder that if politics are to be rendered in the form of entertainment, entertainment’s obliged to politicise itself in turn.
When Rainbow seemed after a White House shakeup,” Yes, We Have No Bananas” became” Yes, We Have No Steve Bannon “. I’ve been singing the Rainbow rendition of “Covfefe” to West Side Story’s ” Maria” for weeks. It’s remarkably easy to remember the words- and the patter around them.” Mr Trump, you have been successfully claiming to be the President for 100 days now ,” he begins one of his interviews with Trump, “Congratulations.” Another welcomes Trump adviser Kellyanne Conway.” Kellyanne, great to have you ,” Rainbow flutters,” I haven’t seen you in a while … but, then again, I haven’t stood in my bathroom with the illuminations off and said your name three times into my mirror .”
I’m not the only commentator to declare that Rainbow is the best thing about the Trump era- American columnist Dan Savage and lesbian newspaper The Advocate are both explicit fans, and Rainbow’s been profiled in publications from the Miami Herald to the New York Times. But Rainbow is not solely a symptom of these periods, but a the representatives from its potential antidote( and he’s not alone, for the satirical and cultural output of activity in resistance to Trumpism is broad-based, diverse and profound ).
Trump’s whole act is clumsy seizure of the cliches of American culture, his tiny mitts all over caps and flags, cheap steaks, bad Tv, cable news and golf carts. Rainbow is drawing from a more powerful arsenal of American cultural values- the wit and accuracy of its best entertainers, the slick presentation of its professional media and pop, and its unbeatable popular songbook of tunes you’d “re going to have to” assume Americans know better than their bibles.
It’s not only of comfort to the resistance to have camp values deployed to expose the drag-king-like artifice of Trump’s confected hyper-masculinity. Laughter and even temporary freeing from dread are a source of energy. Everyone knowing the words to the songs is the crucial first step to choral unison. And to find the strength to face whatever American action afflicts the world next week, we will need these all. We will need them all.
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