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Monday, December 09, 2019

Pop Culture Warned Us About Trump, Part 2: ‘MAD Magazine’!

Welcome to the second part of our ongoing series, examining all the ways that the artistic and entertainment communities have been trying to warn America that Donald Trump was up to no good.

Our latest: The career of Donald Trump, as chronicled by one of America’s greatest institutions of public commentary — MAD Magazine.

Trump may be shortlisted for Time‘s Person of the Year, but he has a far more dubious honor coming to him. As seen on the latest cover for their year-end issue, MAD is highlighting “The 20 Dumbest People, Events and Things” of 2015 — and “Guess who’s #1?”

Predictably, over the past few months the magazine has also been getting a lot of mileage out of Trump’s antics on the campaign trail, as just these few recent examples demonstrate:


But making fun of Trump is hardly a new pursuit for “The Usual Gang of Idiots,” as the MAD stable of creators is known. In fact, as long as Trump has been in the limelight — and way before he was ever considered a credible politician — this venerable American publication has been tearing down at The Donald’s vanity, hypocrisy, and monstrous ego.

In an example appropriate to the holiday season, let’s review the 1988 feature, “Famous Stories As Told By Famous People,” in which Trump was cast as the narrator of one of America’s favorite stories about the noble underdog: It’s a Wonderful Life. But in Trump’s telling, it becomes a story that rips George Bailey for being “a total loser!”

“MAD” #283. Click images to enlarge.

Trump’s description of what George should’ve done might also sound familiar to anyone who has seen the movie: Foreclose on people, knock down their houses, and put up a casino. Say hello to Trumpsville!

“MAD” #283.

The very same issue featured a newly discovered species of flower, the “Creeping Trumpweed,” which “spreads in all directions,” threatening the entire ecosystem by “totally blocking out all sunlight from more lowly species.”


“MAD” #283.

Then in 1989, a feature entitled “New Comic Book Superheroes Based On Real People” depicted Trump as “Captain Avarice” — who rose up from his humble origin as the “son of a lowly real-estate millionaire,” vowing to work hard and (“by any means”) become “a respectable billionaire!” (Compare this with Trump’s talk of how his father “gave me a small loan of a million dollars” to start up his business.)

The dubious crusader’s powers include the ability to “devour an entire block and still be hungry for more” and to “leap over zoning laws with a single ‘campaign contribution’!” Among his biggest enemies: “Lawful tenants… ‘communistic’ ideas like ‘Rent Control,’ and the word ‘enough’.”

“MAD” #288.

A feature in 1992, “When Should We Believe…?” explored the differences between the words and actions of various public figures. Their section on Trump — at a time when his businesses were in a tight spot — contrasted his public persona of bottomless, bombastic confidence with the reality of his businesses filing for bankruptcy.

“MAD” #315.

But in a strangely prophetic (and pertinent) joke, the very next sample of this MAD feature asked: “When should be believe American voters?” — when the complain about the political class or when they end up electing them back into office.

“MAD” #315.

Perhaps the American public’s constant hatred of the usual politicians, while we indeed keep re-electing “these very same crooks,” has finally found its outsider champion — or at least, a different crook from the usual ones.

In 2000, MAD depicted a satirical version of Mt. Rushmore, featuring some of the zanier characters who were poking their heads up as possible presidential candidates: Warren Beatty, Pat Buchanan, Jesse Ventura — and Trump!

“MAD” #389.

But seriously, folks, it’s not like Trump would ever actually run, right?

Another feature from ten years ago, “Trump Roast,” began after The Donald achieved a resurgence of media fame thanks to his show The Apprentice. These full single-page comic strips featured such gags as:

  • Trump yelling at a cleaning lady: “This is my personal bathroom. it has to be the best, most fabulous bathroom in the world! I want you on your hands and knees all day cleaning it. And if I come back here and don’t like what I see, you’re fired!” Then while he’s gone, the cleaning lady indeed works hard to clean the toilet — using his electric toothbrush.
  • Trump at a church altar, for his latest wedding. Behind the couple we can see the long, flowing train of Melania’s wedding gown — and the even longer, even more flowing train of The Donald’s combover.
  • The construction crew of Trump Tower Chicago happily telling their boss that the building is now complete and inviting him to see their fine work. But Trump isn’t happy, saying that it still isn’t finished — and he then directs a helicopter to place a huge, orange hairpiece over the top of the spire, to truly mark the skyscraper as his own.

Here’s hoping The Donald doesn’t get a chance to do anything like that to the White House.

This is the second in our new series “Pop Culture Warned Us About Trump.” 

Check out Part 1: “The Penguin” here.


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