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.
15. Historical Fiction
Many presidents have been history buffs — specifically American history buffs. It pretty much comes with the territory, or at least it should. We might be able to forgive General Cartman E. Lee for not knowing the South lost the Civil War; after all, when he’s not trying to wrong the rights of history as a Civil War re-enactor with an army drunk off their asses on S’more Schnapps, he’s actually just a fourth grader. But to be 71 years old and president of the United States and not know basic things like why the Civil War was fought, well, Trump’s either stupid or senile — and either case is absolutely terrifying. This is what happens when you elect a self-absorbed, willfully illiterate, and intellectually incurious reality television star to be your commander-in-chief. Oh, well. At least we got this fantastic joke out of our president’s historically pathetic ignorance about history.
Melania: “Welcome home, Donald. How was the Black History Museum? Did you see Frederick Douglass there?”
Trump: “No, must’ve been his day off.”
14. Fun with Disabilities!
Yes, a lot of white men voted for Donald Trump. But so did a lot of mothers, the sad irony being that Trump is everything your dear, sweet mother raised you not to be: selfish, egotistical, dishonest, cruel, rude, a bully, etc. Just imagine the tanned hide you would’ve gotten had you been sent home from school for mocking another child with a disability. I mean, who the fuck does that? Oh, yeah, our president and Eric Cartman. When Cartman sees there’s a cash prize that goes to the winner of the Special Olympics, he pretends to be mentally retarded so that he can compete and cash in. What he learns is that while he may not be “special,” he sure is a fat bastard. He gets his ass handed to him in each event and finishes dead last. Likewise, our president thought mocking a reporter with a disability for a laugh and round of applause was above board. At least Cartman had the shame to admit what he did. Trump, to this day, despite endless recordings, GIFs, and memes, won’t admit that he intentionally belittled the man’s disability. Okay, so that’s just a new dance craze, Donnie? How about this one: The Impeachment Shuffle. Fucking loser.
13. The Fart of the Deal
Part of all the winning we were supposed to be doing was going to come from Donald Trump out-negotiating other countries and bringing home ridiculously favorable deals for Americans. I mean, this is the guy who has run multiple businesses into the ground, knows the guy who wrote The Art of the Deal, and fires people on television. Hell, the ‘D’ in Donald probably stands for deal! Well, so far, based on recordings and transcripts that have leaked, Trump’s finesse seems to consist of throwing tantrums while on the phone with allies and then begging them to change their positions publicly so he looks less like a clown. Would we be any worse off if we had Eric Cartman out there negotiating for us? “Ah, that many refugees … you’re breakin’ my balls, Turnbull. Breakin’ my balls.” The results could not possibly be any worse, and our longtime allies would mostly still be on speaking terms with us … mostly. So, Trump. Next time Enrique Peña Nieto calls, try this line out: “Oh, you so clever and smart. You want to pay for wall. You see my fat, orange ass and you fuck me. Oh, you fuck me good and pay for wall.” If that doesn’t work, we’ll just send in Kushner after he dots the i’s on that peace deal in the Middle East. Any minute now…
By all accounts, Donald Trump thinks he’s Don Corleone. He expects everyone from his FBI Director to the illegal immigrant boy who smuggles him Big Macs at 3 a.m. to swear an oath of loyalty to him — if not in blood, then at least in BBQ sauce. The problem is, Donald Trump is about as loyal in return as his last scandal or lie permits him to be. When he screws the pooch (literally or figuratively), somebody’s going down, and you can be sure it won’t be Trump. Similarly, Cartman never takes accountability for the jams he gets the boys into, and it’s always others, namely Butters, who end up grounded, locked in a bomb shelter, crying with a ninja star stuck in his eye, getting raped by NAMBLA (not the Marlon Brandos), etc.. So, for all those who stood by Trump from the beginning (Jeff Sessions), stuck their neck out to try to pass unpopular legislation (Paul Ryan and Mitch McConnell), or sold their integrity by going to a podium or on television and lying for him, just remember that the shit will hit the fan, and he will move out of the way so that it hits you first.
11. Another Dick in the Wall
Let’s be clear about this. Trump loves the Mexican people. He loves their spirit. He loves their taco bowls — by the looks of him, a bit too much. However, there are some bad, bad hombres down there waiting to cross into our country by the millions should they get a chance: murderers, rapists, gang bangers, drug smugglers, terrorists, and the chihuahua from those old Taco Bell commercials. Build the wall, he says, on the Mexican peso, he says, and no doubt volunteer border patrolman Eric Cartman would appreciate the help. Whether it’s keeping Jewish Mexicans, like Kyle, out of his backyard or the last of the Meheecans, Butters, out of Texas, Cartman believes that a strong nation must have strong borders and plenty of firepower. And if the thought of a really yuge wall isn’t enough fun for you, just think of all those gleeful Trump voters who are either going to have to sell their homes or find themselves actually on the Mexico side of the wall. Oh, the cruel irony sweet Jesus sprinkles down upon scared white people.