Gushy-eyed First Ladies and Zombies

Dear President Trump,

It was a long time ago now, but I remember writing to you about photographs and the framing of them, about how shifting the camera slightly to one side or the other will often reveal an entirely different image or convey an entirely different feel than whatever was ultimately selected as the image of a particular scene. And so it was when I tracked down what people had to say about the image of Melania and Justin Trudeau about to exchange cheek air kisses – with commentary pointing to how it was just the one particular camera angle that made it look like she was all gushy-eyed in response to him with you looking extremely grouchy off to the side. Specifically, it was someone at the UK’s Express who sought to disabuse the vicarious romantic thrill seekers and those of us who just want to see you squirm by essentially saying “nothing here to see folks, move along” and reminding us how Melania said something positive about your marriage once back in 2016, which of course means she’s perfectly happy living with you. Right.

Personally, I don’t really care who has gushy-eyes for whom except when you are involved. When you are the one being made to look a fool (by someone other than yourself), I worry for the world’s safety. Narcissists are by nature insecure, they generally don’t have much of a sense of humor, and basically they have none when it comes to themselves. With you, we are dealing with a sociopathic narcissist who also happens to be one of the most powerful people on the planet and so the risk of you doing something stupid and spiteful on a very large scale is quite high. In case you were wondering, this is why I sent you the “May you not start a war” intention at the end of the loving-kindness message yesterday.

In addition to seeing that pretty dang compelling image of Melania and Justin, last night I also flipped through the WP’s 13 best photos of the week. There are some cool nature shots and one of a very excited Little League baseball team welcoming their ace homerun hitter home. And then there’s a photo of people at your Manchester, NH rally a little over a week ago. The photographer got up close and shot the picture right underneath several people and past them all the way back into the crowd.

Several things about this image are noteworthy to me, including that I have a very strong sense that it wouldn’t have mattered in the least had the picture frame been shifted either to the left or the right, it would have conveyed images of the same sorts of people. I say this because there are at least a hundred people in this particular picture and there’s not a one who I would pick out and say, “gee, I wonder what they’re doing there?” Basically, everyone in the picture looks like they cannot afford to go without health insurance, most look like they’ve been smoking three packs a day for decades, and they are either wild-eyed or glassy-eyed.

And then there are the folks right up front – they are raising one or both arms and it’s clear they are yelling, but they are all looking in different directions and three of the four of them look utterly checked out. The two with their mouths open clearly don’t have teeth and they all look truly ill. One of the guys is wearing a tank top that says “TRUMP / 2020 * The Sequel / Make The Liberals Cry Again.” Nice positive messaging you all have going there, huh? How can you look out on these people and bask in their adoration when you know your policies are killing them? And yes, I wish this were a real question that you could actually answer.

Two screens after the rally photo is one of people in Turkey who are protesting the replacement of Kurdish mayors with state officials and to a person, they are all far more relatable to me – they look focused and engaged, they have vigor and energy, they appear to be thinking for themselves. And the same with the next image showing an African refugee who is crying while an Italian aid worker holds him – their humanity is as relatable and real as the American children excited by the homerun. By contrast, your people look like extras in a Zombie Apocalypse movie, which I’m certain is in no small part thanks to a long line of people like you who’ve just used them as pawns in your power grabs.

May we be safe from manipulative robber barons.
May we remember that happiness can be a life-saving form of rebellion.
May we all be healthy and vital.
May we have the courage to be peace and kindness.

Tracy Simpson

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