Memes of Our Moment DeWitt Cheng
Editor’s Note: DeWitt Cheng has quietly been creating a remarkable body of memes for a number of years. Our opinion is that he has gradually invented a distinctive new fusion of Ye Olde Political Cartoon and The Holy Caption, which can serve one of a number of functions. Built on a solid foundation, Cheng has gone off to develop his own foundation. Hence each of his memes is followed by a succinct commentary presented as the caption. We also find these memes are driven by a powerful moral sensibility, knowledge and passion for art, and a talent for blending brevity and eloquence. Shorthand: The work is damned good. Because Mr. Cheng has his freely held opinions, we may generally agree with many, but sometimes we may not. We are independent media, so he must be free to speak for himself.
Let’s NOT Have Trial by Combat 10/15/23 The possibility that Trump gave away military secrets that helped bring about the massacres of October 7 is unbearably painful to consider; but, given his history of feckless disregard for the safety of others, including Americans, it has to remain a subject for some future investigation. I put Trump in a Palestinian kefiyah headscarf (not that he has any loyalty to that cause) like Lawrence of Arabia, and added a couple of his recent tweets about being considered the “King of Israel.” Trump is flanked by his special Mideast envoy, son-in-law Jared Kushner, and his best friend among autocrats, Vladimir Putin (who may have hoped that a new war would help defeat Biden in 2024 and restore the Russo-American entente of 2016-20). Another Tweet rant contrasts Biden’s ostensible weakness with Trump’s strength and distaste for war.
Depose the Kraken 10/20/23 The Fulton County Jail mugshot of lawyer Sidney Powell shows one of Trump’s most passionate defenders as strangely inhuman looking, like a mannikin or robot. Her recent decision to plea-bargain with prosecutors rather than face jail time will probably prove to be extremely bad for “the boss.” The kraken that she invoked three years ago is a mythic sea monster, here seen in a woodcut illustration from around the 17th-century. Let’s have her deposition, and depose her boss from power and influence.
His Effulgence is Watching You; Send Even $1 10/21/23
The new billion-dollar light dome in Las Vegas is reportedly keeping the neighbors awake at all hours with unremitting light and sound, so it seemed an appropriate metaphor for He Who Is Never To Be Forgotten with all his paranoid whining and busking. Yes, we must give him credit for never surrendering, per his family motto (and his mentor Roy Kohn’s one real talent). I considered sticking a projectile in his eye, like George Méliès’ lunar pie-face in in A Trip to the Moon (Le Voyage dans la Lune (1902), but that would have been confusing at the least, and, considering the ongoing tragedy of missile strikes and artillery bombardments, crass and painful. Satire sometimes oversteps bounds, but we can always dial it back and remain relevant.
GOP Camelot is a Silly Place 10/22/23
This meme originated in Francisco Zurbaràn’s painting of St. Veronica’s veil (1645-50), or, in Latin, sudarium (referring to perspiration). I substituted the National Predatory Party’s (NPP) Messiah for Jesus, whose faded countenance was supposedly transferred to the scarf when Saint Veronica wiped the sweat from Jesus’ brow on the walk to the crucifixion. (The Shroud of Turin was supposedly imprinted by an emanation or emission of energy, I gather, like a photograph.) Making Trump hold up the scarf himself seemed appropriate, with his transparent hands reflecting the fading of his importance and influence — his magical mana Is non-transferable, as Mr. Jordan learned. The last Republican king (Le Dernier Roi Républicaine) seen here is worshiped by Pence and Putin in the positions normally accorded to pious donor figures in religious paintings. The title's Monty Python reference reflects the absurdity of Donald’s reign of error, though not its painful results.
Lindell Bog Man to be Repatriated to Minnesota 10/22/23 Mike Lindell’s My Pillow financial woes have been in the news, causing me to remember the famous Lindow Bog Man from Lindow Moss in northeastern England. The well-preserved beef-jerky body shown here is actually Grabaulle Man from Grabaulle, Denmark. Museum repatriations of culturally sensitive remains and artifacts have also been in the news, so I posited the Trump Bedminster Golf Course/Presidential Library and Family Crypt retaining faithful-to-death retainers, as some churches and countries like to keep their founders’ remains on display for the veneration of the faithful. Bedminster, I remembered, had some seepage problems about a year ago, though I do not recall that Ivanka's rest had to be disturbed. Uff da, NPR listeners may remember, from Prairie Home Companion, is a Norwegian exclamation of dismay equivalent to "oy vey" or "ai ya."
MAGA Turbo 10/22/23
The impetus for this image was a photo of Matt Gaetz reaching into his jacket pocket. My initial thought was of parodying Napoleon, as the new Ridley Scott movie about “The Little Corporal” is opening soon, but then I thought of dealmakers, then used-car salesmen, and of course, finally, Nixon, who was seen by critics as a sharp operator akin to the friendly neighborhood guys in the loud suits. Adding DeSantis as a rival salesman, and the wonderful bulbous automobile sculpture by Edwin Wurm completed the story, along with some personality-appropriate caption balloons.