Music, Movies & Moods is a regular free-form column in which Matt Melis explores the cracks between where art and daily life meet. This time, he analyzes the striking and terrifying similarities between Eric Cartman and Donald Trump.
For 20 years now, South Park’s Eric Cartman has been lowering the bar for humanity on a regular basis. The shameless, foul-mouthed fourth grader packs all of our very worst impulses — solipsism, avarice, deceit, bigotry, um, genocide — in a gluttonous frame not even tall enough to reach the freezer of his refrigerator. And yet, we kinda like Cartman. Is it because a decent human being occasionally peeks through the cracks of his rotten surface? No, not really. Time and time again, creators Trey Parker and Matt Stone’s lil’ hell spawn has demonstrated that there is no genuine goodness ready to burst through that puffy, red jacket. In the simplest terms, we can permit ourselves to like Cartman because he’s a cartoon character that — like the monster or villain in a movie — can’t actually harm anyone. Even if he, say, feeds a local bully his parents in some chili as an act of revenge, nobody is really the worse for that unthinkable, psychotic act. But more importantly, we allow ourselves to indulge him because we know he’s ultimately a satirical vessel whose evil schemes almost always leave him devastated and worse off than he began. As long as the South Park universe continues to punish Cartman’s trespasses, we’re actually seeing the wickedness and most detestable aspects of our own world held in check.
But what if an Eric Cartman could exist in our world, and what if all of his terrible traits and dastardly deeds were overlooked and rewarded rather than ridiculed and punished? And what if he rose to a position of real authoritah? In other words, what if a truly wicked character stepped out of a popular television program, like South Park or, grasping here, The Apprentice, and all of a sudden wasn’t so innocuous?
Sure, like that could ever happen…
We all know Donald Trump watches more television than any adult, let alone president, should have time or desire to. From Fox & Friends to Morning Joe and Anderson Cooper 360, he’s obsessed with what pundits on both sides of the aisle are saying about him. But what else does he watch besides sound-bite news? Could South Park be in that sprawling television queue? The late author Christopher Hitchens once commented that if you didn’t know any better, you might think that North Korea was an attempt to build a society in the likeness of that found in George Orwell’s 1984. Well, having spent the past couple weeks bouncing between each hour’s Trump disaster and old South Park episodes, I’m starting to suspect that the despicable, orange fuck in the Oval Office actually has been taking cues from Cartman for years. So, read on and see just a few of the many moves that Donald Trump clearly stole from Eric Cartman. And this list is far from exhaustive.
Oh, and a special thanks to Heather Heyer’s parents, who have managed to do this week what our president couldn’t and wouldn’t: heal and inspire. In remembrance of Ms. Heyer, whose memory Trump denigrated this week by walking back his condemnation of white supremacists and even shifting blame to those standing up against hatred and not running people down in the street with vehicles, here’s a message to you, Mr. President, courtesy of your fat, foul-mouthed mentor and myself: Suck our balls.
20. Body Doubles
Okay, let’s get the obvious similarities out of the way first. Cartman isn’t fat; he’s big-boned. Trump isn’t fat either; he’s presidentially plump. Both ostensibly achieved their current physiques through a steady diet of Cheesy Poofs, Snacky Cakes, Kentucky Fried Chicken skin, and bobbing for Big Macs in the lard vat of Trump Tower’s kitchen. Those dastardly leakers tell us that Trump has grown increasingly self-conscious about his bloating belly in recent months, especially since he had to start signing Executive Orders each morning to have Stephen Miller help him find his dick. When asked about Trump’s dietary habits, one West Wing official said, “Remember that scene in Ritchie Rich when the fat kid finds out Ritchie has a McDonald’s in his house … well, that’s the face Trump starts making as soon as the two-hour warning before each meal goes off.” Is it in poor taste to fat-shame POTUSA 45? Maybe, but then we think about all the women he has publicly shamed over the years, and well, we just lose our compassion as quickly as he loses cabinet members and percentage points in the approval polls. Yes, as much as Cartman and Trump think that they’re totally ripped beefcakes, the truth is that when we see either walking down the street, we go: “God damn, that’s a big fat ass.”
19. Capitol Hilling
In an effort to push his legislative agenda — most of which Dumb Donald hasn’t read (or had read to him) and none of which he understands (has he ever spoke intelligently on policy ever?) — Trump loves to make bullying calls to veteran legislators, sic his cabinet on them, and then publicly shame and blame Congress (especially war heroes like John “Got Caught” McCain) across social media, along with “obstructionists” across the aisle, even though he failed to rally any support and his party already has the seats needed in most cases to ratify without votes from Democrats. Likewise, Eric Cartman isn’t a politician and brings a technique as unorthodox as Johnnie Cochran’s Chewbacca Defense when he enters the chambers of Congress to urge them to make stem-cell research legal again, so he can save Kenny’s life and, more importantly, continue to sell stolen aborted fetuses under the table. After a tearful bit of oratory, Cartman leads the assembly in a bi-partisan rendition of Asia’s “Heat of the Moment”, a tactic that melts the legislative branch’s icy hearts and scores him a major policy victory. Now, it’s not like Donald Trump hasn’t passed any meaningful legislation yet besides those big menu-like folders he signs and gawks over like a moron; he actually signed a bill into law (facing the humiliation of a Congressional veto) that, among other things, restricted his ability to lift sanctions on Russia because Congress doesn’t trust him. Time to tune up those pipes, Trumpy: “It was the heat of the moment … telling me what your heart meant…”
18. I’m a Genius … Not a Liar
All politicians lie — I think Shakespeare wrote sonnets about it — but Trump has proven himself to be a pathological liar to the extent that the Washington, D.C. Fire Marshal has declared the president’s pants to be a Class G (doesn’t get any more serious) wildfire hazard. But it’s almost as if lying comes so natural to Trump that he doesn’t even realize he’s doing it. When Cartman takes full credit for writing Jimmy’s beloved fish stick joke, Kyle explains that Cartman is so egocentric that his mind can do mental gymnastics until he really believes he penned the gag. This goes a long way toward understanding Trump’s baffling interview with Lester Holt, in which he admitted point-blank to obstructing justice by firing FBI Director James Comey and took credit, in all earnestness, for having recently coined the term “priming the pump.” So, maybe Kyle’s right. Like Cartman, Trump is so far up his own ass that he actually believes the bullshit he’s spouting. Then again, he didn’t specify what type of pump he primes. Oh, behave!
17. It’s Not Bigly … It’s Yuge!
Donald Trump has size issues. Whether we’re talking about his personal wealth, the chocolate cake at Mar-a-Largo, or the daintiness of his tiny doll hands, Trump believes size matters. Ask him about electoral margins, his real estate holdings, or the size and reception of any crowd he ever speaks to, and you’ll get a bigger-is-better (even if rarely honest) response. Hell, as far as I know, he’s the only candidate to ever refer to the adequacy of his penis in a nationally televised debate. Which vividly reminds us of the time that Cartman thought school officials had posted student penis sizes — they were actually height growth differentials — for all to see. The rage drives him right into anger management where we learn that all angry white men are insecure about their minimal endowments. Now, I’m not about to speculate whether or not the fiery, oft-agitated, rage-aholic Trump, as he suggested, has a yuge member or a Chinpokomon-size (“so small”) little fella. Why speculate about genitalia when we can say with absolute anatomical certainty that Trump is the biggest asshole in the galaxy?
16. Orange Isn’t the New Black
At some point in his life — and I don’t have the stomach to do the photo analysis — Donald Trump abandoned the pasty, white complexion that encircles his eyes and nipples and no doubt cakes his fat, white ass in favor of what a Sherwin-Williams color swatch might dub “Yams & Cheeto Dust.” How someone so obsessed with looks can leave the White House looking like a lumpy plate of cheddar mashed potatoes with roadkill on its head and a tie a foot past its dick is beyond me. Did his friends and family dye him to teach him a lesson, like Stan, Kyle, and Kenny do so Cartman will no longer mistreat ginger kids suffering from gingervitis? Did Donald, like Cartman, not learn his lesson and instead start a clandestine orange supremacist hate group determined to take over the country? I can’t prove that Trump’s pumpkin pigment actually feeds his wickedness, but I can say that he might as well give up on trashing Obama. No matter how hard he tries and how much he lies, orange will never be the new black.