There’s always something pathetically cringe-worthy when people attempt to co-opt popular culture, and even more so when it’s done in a manner that makes it clear how little the creative work in question is understood. Most recently guilty of such a crime is Star Wars Day being used in an attempt to compare Donald Trump to Yoda.
As nerds all over the world celebrated their love of the enduring saga, a tone-deaf and apparently sincere tweet from the account of Trump’s re-election campaign tried to capitalize on the moment with a choppy edit from the climax of Revenge of the Sith, when Palpatine executes Order 66 to subliminally command the Clone Army to exterminate the Jedi they have spent five years fighting alongside. The clip shows Joe Biden superimposed over Darth Sidious giving the command, while a pair of anonymous troopers dubbed ‘CNN’ and ‘MSNBC’ attempt to kill Yoda, with the President’s smug, self-satisfied grin obscuring the Jedi Grandmaster as they’re decapitated.
May The 4th Be With You! pic.twitter.com/TdFY5ojlgN
— Team Trump (Text TRUMP to 88022) (@TeamTrump) May 4, 2020
The intent is clear: Trump is a force of righteousness who will take down the networks he tediously brands as ‘fake news’ and ‘enemies of the people’ on account of them not sycophantically repeating his lies as unassailable facts. I could spend some time highlighting the technical ineptitude of the clip, which looks like something a small child might cobble together in their first attempt at video editing, and not, I can only assume, the creation of a grown adult who genuinely thought it was clever. However, far more interesting is the short-sighted parallels that such an invocation draws.
Trump has been imagined as the most obstinate member of a society of out-of-touch and arrogant old men blithely ignorant of how irrelevant they have let themselves become through years of complacency, uncaring of the misery and suffering that has come to pass under their aegis, and so blinded by the march of progress beyond their ivory towers that they can’t see a blatant danger careering towards them before it’s too late to do anything about it.
If you want to extend the context of the tweet, I could also point out that if the election plays out analogous to the movie, then Biden will emerge victorious and attain ultimate power, while Trump will spend the remainder of his life decaying forgotten in a swamp, growing increasingly senile while everything he ever achieved is disregarded and forgotten.
It’s reminiscent of a moment back in December, when another poorly-edited clip attempted to equate Trump with Thanos, which also came with a set of similarly undesirable connotations. If the staffers who create such misappropriation don’t want their cluelessness to continue to be highlighted, perhaps they should just carry on tweeting soundbites and propaganda, and leave the referencing of pop culture to those who actually understand it.