Aggressive clown imagery has been a “thing” for a couple of years now—and if we include Joker imagery, we can roll back the clock on that to at least the late 2000s. So the just-released Snoop Dogg music video for “Lavender,” a remix of a song by BadBadNotGood and Kaytranada, is pretty provocative.
Not only do you have a world almost exclusively populated by clowns—but in one scene, Snoop Dogg aims a gun at a “Donald Trump” clown’s head (it turns out to be a “bang” trick gun—more on that later). The video is now being criticized for the gun scene, but this is not the first video to show such an act—and it’s hardly the most violent.
I’ve seen nobody talk about the short “Say10” video from Marilyn Manson, in which the singer, according to Rolling Stone’s description, “leaves a Trump-like body bloody and headless.” And the sequence of events from the video—which was released on the eve of the U.S. election last year—is like Manson tearing up a Bible and chanting intercut with this suited guy’s body on the ground with no head, just a massive bloody smear.
And what struck me about the “Say10” video at the time was the immediate realization—this was like doing a visual ritual-type thing, like something Kenneth Anger would have done.
I’m going to go back to the “Lavender” video for a second, and underline the explicit “Joker” connection, with not only a teenage clown at the beginning of the video with green hair, but literally Harley Quinns flanking Dogg in the closing scene. And so you get the trick “bang” gun, which is a very Joker-type motif.
So rather than the Joker being the Trump-type character, it’s more like the Joker himself has arrived to “take out” (albeit metaphorically) Trump. Seeing as how the Joker does seem, on some level, to be a “triggering” icon for some degree of violence (which I think ultimately stems from its Trickster/”Satan”-type archetypal origins rather than tied to the comic books/movies themselves), maybe the imagery in the video is problematic.
But the truth is, I’ve seen so many tweets from people who should have known better—and news reports from outlets that should have known better—that have sort of “played” with the same imagery and sentiment, that Dogg hardly deserves all the finger-pointing here. I’ve been collecting these mentions and insinuations in the media since early 2016, when a New York Times columnist tweeted a joke suggesting Trump’s campaign should end the way Stillson’s did in the movie/book The Dead Zone—which is with an assassin’s gun pointed towards him.
I don’t personally like Trump & I understand all the anger out there…but believe me, “taking him out” is not going to be the “solution” here. If he did things that were unethical and even illegal—and it kind of looks that way—then that needs to be addressed in a commission and mapped out. Otherwise, he will always be a martyr to his followers—literally a JFK-level figure. And the fact that I have to even qualify why I think he should not be assassinated, other than that people just shouldn’t be assassinated, is…
Anyway, I write all this not only because I think the Dogg video was interesting and impactful—it’s worth a watch, regardless of your views, just as a cultural commentary (because there’s a lot more than the Trump stuff in it)—but because I have been sensing, in a palpable way, this energy in the world and in the media of wanting to see Trump “get it.” I’ve been sensing it a lot, and…like I said, it’s not going to make things “all better again.” The chaos didn’t begin with Trump, and it ain’t going to end with him. It’s bigger than that.