How the world saw the US election as a pop culture phenomenon
The campaign headquarters of Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton are just seven miles apart, but the cultural phenomenon of the election campaign has travelled around the world. It's been interpreted differently in different cultural contexts and repurposed in unique ways that reflect local concerns.
With Trump proposing to withdraw longstanding military support, rewind global trade agreements, ban muslims and deport “bad hombres”, there are significant global implications to who wins the election. Yet many reactions have been less politically engaged.
In addition to our New York office, Flamingo has offices in seven cities around the world. Here are some of the reactions to the election we’ve observed — including conflagrations and congratulations — from artists, beauty queens, businessmen and others.
Shanghai: rubber masks and oil paintings
In May, Chinese rubber mask manufacturers decided Trump would sell better than Clinton and upped production. Jacky Chen, manager of the Partytime Latex Art and Crafts factory, said the Trump mask “will completely sell out”.
In Shenzhen, we spoke to a painter who was paid 1,500RMB (US$220) to paint this portrait of Clinton (pictured left) — complete with a red, white and black flag — by a Canadian client. (No one at the village was painting Trump, but Napoleon on horseback was everywhere.)
New York filmmaker Jason Wishnow, the director of the short film The Sand Storm starring Ai Weiwei, brought trump to China to show him what a real wall looked like.
Mumbai: happy birthday to “the saviour of humanity”
In Jantar Mantar, New Delhi, Hindu Sena, a right wing political party led by Vishnu Gupta, threw a party for Trump’s 70th birthday that included balloons and party hats.
“We are celebrating his birthday because he will fight Islamic terrorism. Today is a big day as it marks the birth of the saviour of humanity,” Gupta said.
They fed cake to a cardboard cutout of the Republican candidate photographed holding a gun. “This picture was on Google. I don’t know who or what he was hunting.”
London: The Wicker Man
Jakarta: Miss Indonesia sides with Clinton
Many people in the world’s most populous muslim nation were unimpressed with Trump, including Ariska Putri Pertiwi,the first Miss Indonesia to win an international pageant, Miss Grand International, held in Las Vegas Nevada on October 25. Miss Indonesia, Miss Thailand and Miss Puerto Rico all sided with Clinton, while Miss Philippines endorsed Trump.
Indonesians also expressed scepticism about Trump’s business dealings in Indonesia, including production of Trump brand suits and the real estate developer’s plans to transform The Lido Lakes One Stop Adventure Hotel into the Trump International Lido Hotel.
Singapore: money, money, money
Singapore celebrated the bounce in share prices after the FBI cleared Clinton for a second time of illegally handling her emails.
Tokyo: Will President Trump Come True?
Several Japanese authors have written books about Trump’s popularity as a symbol of American — and even global — decline. Titles include Collapsing America: The World Will Go Mad If There’s A President Trump, Trump Fever: America’s Anti-intellectualism and Will President Trump Come True?. On the other hand, Takahiko Soejima, author of President Trump and Truths of the US: The Era of President Donald Trump, says there will be “World War III” if Clinton wins.
Sao Paulo: post-pop painter
Exhausting every last pop cultural manifestation of Trump and Clinton, Brazilian artist Butcher Billy rendered the candidates as Harley Quinn and the Joker, Wayne and Garth, Captain America and Iron Man, the Queen of Hearts and the mad hatter, Kiss, Spongebob and Patrick, Marge and Homer Simpson, and Darth Vader and Princess Leia.
- Article by Sam Gaskin