A comical luxury found in the vast cyber-world within the Twitter network’s live feed of diverse statuses is the parody account. Parody Twitter accounts appear all over the network. They obtain a persona of a fictional character or, in many cases, a real life person. For example, while Miguel Cabrera, all-star hitter and first baseman of the Detroit Tigers, has his own personal and official Twitter account, there is also a parody account based on him named, @DrunkMiggy. The name and demeanor of the account references Cabrera’s real life alcoholism that he has struggled with in the past (but has lately overcome). The parody account also has no official affiliation with the real Miguel Cabrera. @DrunkMiggy acts as a medium for absurd comments that are meant as jokes. Because parody Twitter accounts are understood by the large Twitter community as comical voices, there is much understanding for it’s humorous rhetoric and therefore, little negative affect from the Twitter community. This especially goes for the many cases when Twitter parody accounts make comical jokes about sensitive real life situations.
Donald Trump’s real Twitter account, which is mainly meant as a medium for his presidential campaign at this point, in certain ways, functions in the same way that a standard Twitter parody account functions. Trump’s rhetoric seems to imply jokes by speaking crudely and inconsiderately about sensitive real life issues, sound familiar? One thing that is clear about Trump’s Twitter account is that it is affective in getting attention and creating affect. As of Monday, December 21st 2015, Trump had racked in a total of 5.38 million followers, which is…a lot (but may not seem like that much when compared to Twitter’s number one leader in followers which is Katy Perry with over 62 million, but again that’s the top leader). His account, @realDonaldTrump, is also a real life tool to help build his public reputation or as of late, help his presidential campaign grow in publicity. He is often using Twitter as a tool to show off his collection of positive poll ratings or just reinforcing his political, yet politically incorrect, ideals. What is found to be most interesting about Donald Trump’s tweets is that while they seem to be most easily interpreted as jokes, it is unclear if he is writing with a serious intention or making an attempt at comedy. Let’s see how Trump’s tweets compare to the parody Twitter account, @DrunkMiggy.
After a serious earthquake in Nepal in late April of 2015, which killed thousands of people and injured even more, @DrunkMiggy made a joke which involved the earthquake and his alcoholism.
This passage, while containing only one clearly noticeable technical grammatical error by not including a period at the end of the sentence, is a working clause. The anonymous author behind @DrunkMiggy even made sure to spell “than” correctly instead of “then”, which would indicate a reference to time rather than a comparison. Well-done. This statement, which was created as an attempt at comedy, understates the serious earthquake that occurred in Nepal and overstates how much alcohol Miguel Cabrera can possibly consume, despite the fact that both ways of measuring these individual results are not actually comparable. For this reason, this is an absurd statement. This tweet is an insensitive comment because @DrunkMiggy uses a tragedy to fuel his crude joke. This is highly seen in parody Twitter accounts because after all, Twitter is often directly influenced by time and events. And what is clear from this particular tweet is that this is easily perceived as a joke because of it’s absurdity. This is the obvious difference between @DrunkMiggy and @realDonaldTrump. @DrunkMiggy is clearly making a joke when with @realDonaldTrump, it is hard to tell.
When comparing Trump’s account to the parody account, @DrunkMiggy, we should again first consider that @realDonaldTrump does represent a real person. Because his account represents a real person, we should observe the many ways we can interpret his tweets, through close reading. Because again, @realDonaldTrump is not a parody account.
Here’s a tweet from Donald Trump which includes the sensitive issue of sexual assaults in the U.S. military.
Trump states an observation that is based on a fact about sexual assaults in the military which is then followed by a question and in the process of the tweet’s creation, he also appears to be completely grammatically correct. Trump asks, “What did these geniuses expect when they put men & women together?” This question first implies that someone or some “genius” group is behind allowing men and women to serve in the military together and secondly that in his view, this should not be allowed because once again, in his view, the act of putting men and women together in the military accounts for unmanageable sexual assault.
When considering the question’s first implication, that there is a group of “geniuses” who have the authority to decide whether or not to “put men and women together” in the military, it is critical to understand what group he is talking about. Is he specifically speaking about the government or a mysterious group of intellectuals that hold the mere authority of putting men and women together in the military? It’s hard to say. America has had men and women fight in wars together since World War I. It sounds like he wants to get to the bottom of where this problem started so maybe Trump’s question should be more specifically directed toward the president who was behind this decision, Woodrow Wilson, asking what he expected when he allowed women to be part of the military. Unfortunately, Wilson passed away a few years ago in 1924 so he is unable to answer what may be a genuine question from Donald trump. Too bad, maybe Wilson would have given him an educated answer.
Another interpretation brought on by this question implies that Trump is attempting sarcasm using the word, “genius”. Maybe his use of the word “genius” is actually meant to connote something along the lines of, “idiot”. In this case, does this mean that Trump is implying that women should not be allowed in the military or better yet, that there should be a separate military for men and women like there is for sporting leagues? An ARMY and a WARMY, like the National Basketball Association is split up by the NBA and the WNBA? I guess this is something we would have to work out with the countries we go to war with. I assume battles would include a disclaimer of rules, something like, “THIS BATTLE WILL NOT ALLOW FOR ANY NUCLEAR WEAPONS AND WITH THIS BEING SAID, THIS BATTLE IS EXCLUSIVELY FOR MEN, THE WOMEN’S BATTLE WILL BE HELD IN THE GYMNASIUM AT 3:30pm!”
An interpretation from the tweet that seems clear is that he is creating the assumption that having men and women together in the military is going to result in sexual assault, no doubt. The question, “What did these geniuses expect when they put men and women together?” implies that he thinks this togetherness is a bad idea. If he thought it was a good idea, he probably wouldn’t have asked the question at all, unless he was excited about all the unreported sexual assault cases going on in the U.S. military. The question comes from the factual statement he lead the tweet with, which states an issue. Because of the way he structured this tweet, his question is believed to be specifically directed towards the same issue. He is suggesting that the individuals in the military should not be liable for their actions because sexual assault is bound to happen when men and women serve in the military together. And so, according to Trump, these horny soldiers should not be expected to control themselves when they have sexual urges because they’re horny and they’re soldiers and I guess, sexually untameable Americans. The soldiers are not at fault, it is the genius’ fault who allowed them to fight together in the first place. Sounds like he has a lot of trust in the American people, let alone the people serving in the military.
By asking this question, Trump also ignores the crucial point of his factual statement; not only is the number of sexual assaults staggering, the number of reported sexual assaults is even more staggering. According to his factual statement, this means that not even 1% of the sexual assaults in the military were reported. If Trump is not striving to make a joke, he is missing crucial issues of the problem he is addressing.
If we were to imagine that this tweet came from a parody Twitter account, it would make perfect sense. Trump takes a sensitive issue and asks a sarcastic question resulting in an absurd statement. He ignores the disturbing reality to sexual assaults in the military and makes a stupid joke as a result.
We see something similar when Trump made a debatable comment about global warming.
Here, we have another literate tweet by Donald Trump but it’s coherency is disputable. Trump is questioning the legitimacy of global warming (like any GOP nominee should). He seems to be creating a conspiracy theory against China. In Trump’s mind, the Chinese haven’t stopped creating myths since they got things rolling back during the Shang Dynasty. To continue on, while ignoring the scientific facts that contradict Trump’s whole theory about global warming, he’s created a decent plot that just calls for some minor story development adjustments. His story involves an underdog country that is riddled by it’s belief in a fabricated concept called global warming, thanks to an antagonistic country that has a plan to produce products for the entire world, while probably taking over the world at the same time. Sounds like a blockbuster, maybe just in time for Christmas?
Trump is calling global warming a “concept” that was “created”, which denotes global warming’s authenticity. Global warming is indeed a “concept” but is also an actual threat to the Earth. When speaking about climate change, Bill Nye, also known as, “Bill Nye the Science Guy” says, “it’s not something you should be debating or denying” and many other scientists agree with him as well, including Nye’s astrophysicist pal, Neil Degrasse Tyson. Tyson has his own official Twitter account with which he uses to promote his ideals as well. Here’s an example of one.
Is Trump’s tweet an absurd statement yet?
Trump’s tweet is twofold because while negating global warming, this tweet also works to develop a brilliant, yet fake scheme that Trump believes China has organized. If this tweet was believed by the population, (big “if”…at least you would think) a sense of fearfulness for the American economy and manufacturing industries would spread around the country. People would fear for their jobs, and “anything but our jobs!” Since this tweet was tweeted from a serious Twitter account, it received a lot of attention and most definitely debate, and like Oscar Wilde has expressed, “there is no such thing as bad publicity”. The tweet has received almost 20,000 retweets since it was posted in 2012. A good way to get a lot of attention is through an absurd statement…Kudos to China for creating a heck of a myth.
Trump’s effort to take sensitive matters and speak foolishly about them is what predominantly makes his Twitter resemble a parody Twitter account. Based off of these specific Trump tweets, @realDonaldTrump’s absurd rhetoric shows no sensitivity towards what should be recognized as sensitive public issues. This insensitivity is what further proves that @realDonaldTrump functions as a parody account. Concerning the point that this account actually represents Donald Trump, a real person, general common sense should likely encourage a filter to these types of tweets, unless they were strictly written for comical use.
In the case of @realDonaldTrump’s tweets being interpreted as strictly a joke, they are much more reasonable. When his tweets are being appropriately interpreted as serious, Donald Trump’s rhetoric is subjectively frightening. It is frightening because of its extremism and ignorance that is comprised in this person, let alone a powerful presidential candidate. But what is probably more frightening is the number of followers that Trump has attained. A good question is whether twitter followers is analogous to supporters or just people interested in his rhetoric. The absurdity does not end here.
“The Meaning and Origin of the Expression: There Is No Such Thing as Bad Publicity.” Phrases.org.uk. Gary Martin, n.d. Web. 21 Dec. 2015.
Mooney, Chris. “Bill Nye: Climate Change Is “not Something You Should Be Debating or Denying”.” Washington Post. The Washington Post, 24 Apr. 2015. Web. 21 Dec. 2015.
“Time Line: Women in the U.S. Military.” (2010): n. pag. History.org. The Colonial Williamsburg Foundation. Web. 21 Dec. 2015.