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.
10. The Roswell President
Each day, the president gets briefings and access to the best intelligence available. Men and women literally give their lives to obtain some of this information. But why rely on that info when you have social media, lunatic bloggers, and crackpot blowhards like Alex Jones out there to tell you what’s really going on in the world? Jones’ latest doozy, by the way, claims that KKK members at protests are usually just Jewish actors in costume. Don’t be shocked if Trump works that material into his next speech to “heal” the nation. Like Eric Cartman, who believes the government has him monitored, 9/11 was orchestrated by Kyle, and any other hate-fueled hokum that comes his way, our president can’t distinguish fact from fancy and won’t listen to those around him who can. Hence, we get to hear him regurgitate theories about being wire-tapped by Obama, Obama not being born in America, and illegal immigrant voter fraud. Notice how often he says, “A lot of people are saying things…” You wouldn’t sleep at night if you knew who those people were.
After Trump secured the white supremacist vote, he turned a lot of his attention to black voters and the issues that concern them. However, it soon became painfully clear that Trump must not know many black people (except for Ben Carson and Omarosa). According to Trump’s world view, every black person lives in an inner city war zone, dodging bullets in abject poverty — um, no. It also doesn’t help that Trump doesn’t know the reason the Civil War was fought, jokes around about police brutality, emboldens white supremacist groups, and his billionaire Dunce of Education, Betsy DeVos, thinks black colleges are a shining example of educational choice in America (you mean the colleges founded because whites wouldn’t let blacks enroll in their schools, dipshit?). Cartman’s take on black culture is no less stereotypical, but at least he’s in no position to make policy based on his prejudice. He’ll continue to sport his #TokensLifeMatters t-shirt, even though he’s also shot Token in a George Zimmerman-Trayvon Martin situation, push for non-mixed relationships, and assume all blacks know how to play bass guitar. Still, nothing he’s going to say will ever be as racist and offensive as Trump’s election pitch to black people: “What have you got to lose?” What a bastard. I’d dare him to make that same pitch to wealthy white people.
08. Respect My Brutalitah!
You have to admit, that Donald Trump sure knows how to work a crowd. Eh, you ever see the people at a Trump rally? Not exactly the old Frasier audience. In late July, though, the “Law and Order” president (not sure if he’s called that because he’s pro-law enforcement or watches a lot of reruns) got to speak to a crowd of America’s finest police officers in Long Island. During the speech, Trump suggested that police officers shouldn’t shy away from roughing up those whom they arrest. It’s a policy that South Park police deputy Eric Cartman surely would’ve endorsed. Whether you’re driving a little fast for his liking or fucking chickens in a grand scheme to teach a police offer how to read, Officer Cartman’s policy is club first, ask questions later. Trump, the Oompa Loompa who would be dictator, believes in establishing his authoritah above all. Hell, he practically mugs every world leader he shakes hands with. But a police brutality joke at any time, let alone a time that sees law enforcement under more scrutiny than ever for how they handle their jobs — especially when minorities are involved — is truly working a crowd as only Trump can. Suggestion. Next time, maybe a little less Freddie Gray and a few more jokes about deporting Melania for her lousy cooking. And this is why Sarah Huckabee Sanders probably drinks before noon…
07. Muslims, The Other Bad Hombres
A lot of genuinely frustrated, along with flat-out stupid, people sent Donald Trump to Washington to throw a tantrum, tell people to fuck themselves, and take a shit on the floor. Well, he’s done all that. Unfortunately, there are real problems facing America, and now the person who has to solve them is the type of person who throws tantrums, tells people to fuck themselves, and takes shits on the floor. See how some of you didn’t quite think this the whole way through? Yes, Islamic terrorism is a problem that must be dealt with, but what on earth makes anyone think Donald Trump is capable of handling the problem — or healthcare, or tax reform, or climate change (if the dumb fuck believed in it)? Just like Eric Cartman, Trump hears the word Muslim, and he panics. He acts out of ignorance and fear because he knows nothing about the threat. So good, upstanding Muslims — like the real-life family of war hero Humayun Khan and Baahir’s family on South Park — lose out, as does our country because we won’t be able to bring in doctors, scientists, and hardworking people from certain parts of the world to strengthen our nation. Islamophobia does nothing to make us safer and everything to weaken us. Ain’t it a bitch when dumb white people, like our president, get scared? Oh, yeah, and our great orange hope wants to fight Muslim terrorists with pig blood. Brilliant.
06. Adventures in Cowardice
Voters, I’m told, sent Donald Trump to Washington to be a fighter. The tiny problem with that, however, is that Donald Trump isn’t a fighter; he’s a bully. A yuge difference. He prods and picks fights, usually over Twitter, with actual fighters and people of substance — senators like John McCain, Lindsey Graham, and Jeff Flake; former FBI Director James Comey; the parents of Muslim American war hero Captain Humayun Khan; Special Investigator Bob Mueller; foreign leaders; and institutions like Congress, the American intelligence agencies, the American judicial system, and news media — and then, when stood up to, never accepts accountability, just turns coward and cries victim. It’s vintage Eric Cartman, whether he’s the 1% crying about how the 99% are ganging up on him or mocking breast cancer and then begging for forgiveness before getting his ass handed to him by Wendy. So, don’t believe it when Trump says things like “no other president has been treated more unfairly than him.” Um, I seem to recall some assassinations, but that’s besides the point. Instead, heed the words of breast cancer survivor Principal Victoria: “Cancer is pure evil. It’s a fat, little lump that needs to be destroyed. You must fight it.” How those bone spurs healing, Donnie? Fucking coward.
05. Nasty Women
Contrary to his assertion that “nobody loves women more than me,” it’s well-documented that Donald Trump needs to learn some R-E-S-P-E-C-T. Let’s play a couple of his greatest hits: calling his opponent a “nasty woman” in a presidential debate, being peer-pressured by the intimidating Billy Bush into boasting of his pussy-grabbing sexual-assaulting prowess, and agreeing with Howard Stern that his daughter, Ivanka, is a “piece of ass.” That’s not to speak of all the allegations of rape and assault, the public shaming of women’s bodies, and the gory descriptions of plastic surgery that Trump fabricates to make women sound like The Cryptkeeper. Here’s one of the few spots on this list where we might cut Cartman some slack. Yes, he can’t make it through an episode without saying something sexist, he finds breast cancer hilarious, and, in his mind, a woman’s place is in the kitchen making him powdered donut pancake surprise, but he’s also not a sexual predator checking out children, snooping around pageant dressing rooms, and groping his own daughter. Let’s just say that when it comes to the ladies, Trump is in a disgusting class all his own. Can’t say I blame Melania for slapping away those little, orange talons.
04. Fire and Fuhrer
Okay, so POTUS 45 probably never dressed up as Hitler or a Klansman for Halloween. There’s also no evidence to date that he led a Mel Gibson-inspired hate march as part of a final solution (as if he has answers to anything), and if he ever had Charlie Manson over for the holidays (sorry, CHRISTmas), that’ll have to be something we learn about when we read Bob Mueller’s report. But not since Woodrow Wilson screened Birth of a Nation in the White House has a president 1) been so universally embraced by white supremacist groups and 2) gone so far out of his way NOT to condemn that small but critical, deplorable faction of his support base. Let’s break it down like this: when Merck CEO Ken Frazier, an African American, resigned from Trump’s manufacturing council, it took him less than an hour to Tweet that Frazier was a rip-off artist. It took that same swift voice of the forgotten American more than two days and mounting global pressure to condemn the white supremacists responsible for driving a car into a crowd of counter-protesters, killing Heather Heyer and injuring nearly two-dozen others … only to walk it back one day later, saying the white supremacist contingent had some “very fine people” on its side (the polo-shirted tiki guys chanting, “Jews will not replace us,” perhaps?) who were also victims of violence. Presidents sticking up for Nazis. No wonder hate crimes are on the rise. Fire and fuhrer, indeed.
03. Fuck Political Correctness (And Decency) in Its Ass
You’ve heard it from the beginning of Trump’s political rise: “He speaks his mind.” “He tells it like it is.” “He doesn’t worry about political correctness.” Hey, I agree that Washington D.C. would be on better terms with the American people if they were a more open and honest bunch. The problem, however, with Trump speaking his mind is that his mind is a vile sewer coursing with hatred, bigotry, misogyny, deceit, ignorance, and stupidity. Worse still, he seems to possess no filter whatsoever. Hence, you get about the same man boobs-puffing speech from him in a locker room, in front of the C.I.A. Memorial Wall, and at a boy scout jamboree. Similarly, it’s Cartman’s dream to be able to say whatever foul and repugnant thing he wants with zero repercussions. So, when he finds out that some people who have Tourette Syndrome can’t control their language, he sees it as his golden ticket to unleash all the obscenities and hate speech he can muster. Unfortunately, though, for Cartman, he lives in a cartoon world, so there are actual consequences for one’s words and actions. Meanwhile, Trump’s base, many legislators, and even those rascally KKK members have permitted Trump to get away with Cartman’s plan in real life by chalking up the despicable word salad he spews and Tweets out daily to “not being a politician” and “being a different type of president.” Don’t believe me? Go out and tell people you grab pussy, that Mexicans are rapists, and that there’s some sort of moral equivalency between Nazis and those who protest them. Just see how far you get. Trust me, it won’t be the Oval Office. Hell, you’ll be lucky to make it home alive.
02. Please, Please Love Me
One of the great paradoxes of Eric Cartman is that he treats people terribly and yet genuinely expects love and adoration in return. Sound like anyone we know? When leaks tell us that the president gets a morning and an afternoon briefing filled with nothing but flattering snippets, photos, and headlines about himself, it’s hard not to think of our fat (hey!), coo friend. Don’t believe me? Please watch the tape of Trump’s cabinet meeting from June, and tell me it isn’t exactly like the pick-me-up tea parties that Cartman throws himself — attended by Clyde Frog, Polly Prissy Pants, Peter Panda, and other qualified, confirmed appointees — in order to stroke his ego and keep himself from breaking down into tears. As sad as Trump’s need for the hugs he never got as a child is, it’s even more pathetic that those he counts on for honesty and objective advice get down on their knees and suckle at his fat ass. Cartman’s puppets have no choice but to compliment him — they’re inanimate objects he’s voicing. What’s Polly Prissy Pence and Artemis Clyde Sessions’ excuse? Leave your dignity with the coat-check girl at the door, boys. Don’t retain your ticket. It’s worthless. Sad!
01. “Screw You Guys … I’m Going Home”
We (well, not me) were promised nothing but winning. So much winning that we’d be sick and tired of all the winning. And what’s more, it would be so, so easy, all of it: healthcare, tax reform, building a wall on Mexico’s dollar. After seven months, um, we’d settle for a tie (I hear it’s like kissing your daughter!) or another one of those moral victory keggers in the Rose Garden while poor, sick, and scared people watch nervously at home. Ah, happy days! It does make sense that Donald Trump thought winning in Washington would be easy; he’s never had to live in a world where anyone opposed him. And when he did fuck up (all the damn time), family or other countries (not American banks, mind you) bailed him out time and time again. So imagine when he found out that leaders of our now-former allies (Mexico, Australia, Germany, et al.) wouldn’t be bullied, esteemed judges wouldn’t be insulted and walked over, and that Congress wouldn’t be threatened into acting against their consciences and the best interests of their constituents. We instantly saw Trump’s true Cartman colors surface. After each humiliating week, it’s pretty much the same routine: “Screw you guys, I’m going home.” Or at least to Mar-a-Largo. When a spoiled baby can’t have his way, his only recourse is to throw a tantrum, crawl away, and take his rattle with him. The only trick is finding a way to keep him from coming back. Gator in a water hazard? Sweet.