“At least we’ll get some good music out of this”, they said. That half-thought was hardly any consolation the morning after – not only do we have to deal with him, but the Third Coming of Green Day as well? If any “great art” has come out of the reaction to the Donald Trump administration, I haven’t seen it yet. Yes, people are angry, and yes, people are motivated, but it’s not an inspiring anger. There’s no nuance to it. No cleverness. No finer point to put on it. The problem is not that his policies are harmful, it’s that they are blatantly so – we are now on our third round of “call your elected officials and tell them not to kill you”. The problem is not that he lies, but rather that he lies like a 5-year old with cookie all over his face. It’s not even the fact that his administration may have colluded with a hostile government, but rather how brazen and open they are about it. It’s not like any of this is a secret. His low approval ratings are unprecedented, especially given the circumstances he inherited. His healthcare bill and his tax bill are the two most unpopular pieces of legislation in modern history. If he was the villain in a Disney movie, he would be written off as too unrealistic; no one’s going to buy a character that’s this much pure ego, are they? He is beyond satire; even the great impersonators like Anthony Atamunuik don’t really make me laugh the way the GWB ones did, because the truth is always stranger than fiction. Trump deploying the term “Pocahontas” at an event to honor Native Americans? C’mon, that’s a gag in a C-grade SNL skit if I’ve ever heard one. Defending a pedophile because at least he’s better than some random Democrat? That’s a throwaway panel in a Tom Tomorrow cartoon. And so on.
Election Day was supposed to absolve us of all this. Look, I’m not gonna pretend that Donald Trump is some sort of political aberration; FOX News and birtherism and Sarah Palin and the media’s fawning attempt to paint people like Milo and Richard Spencer as “dangerous and dapper” were all leading here. If he had lost we’d have a 2020 Republican candidate bloviating about shooting Muslims into the Sun. But in addition to all that, the issue is Donald Trump himself, the single most exhausting politician this planet has ever produced, a man with a pathological need to feud with famous black people and find ways to insert himself into every major national news story. Hurricanes are about Donald Trump. North Korea is about Donald Trump. Global Warming is about Donald Trump. The NFL is about Donald Trump. Had he lost the election, he wouldn’t have gone away, but we’d get to stop listening to him; his Tweets would no longer be national news, and CNN would no longer breathlessly cover an empty podium he was supposed to be speaking at a half hour ago. Trump was amusing during the primaries; as soon as he won the nomination (and immediately started spreading JFK conspiracy theories involving Ted Cruz’s father) he started to become absolutely suffocating. All Presidential elections get nasty, but this one was just brutal. Right around the time Trump tweeted out “Check out sex tape!” I started to feel guilty for ever finding the man entertaining in the first place. At least once Election Day was over we’d stop having to hear about him, right? Imagine getting surgery to remove a tumor, only to have the doctor instead just put more cancer in. That is what Election Day felt like to most of the country.
That feeling is not lost on Tim Heidecker, who has for several years been playing a fictionalized right-wing blowhard version of himself while doing stand-up and starring in the excellent YouTube series On Cinema at the Cinema. A character who has been openly fantasizing about a Trump presidency since 2010, by the way. Does it make it more funny, or less funny, to find out that this character is actually a somewhat accurate representation of half the people who actually bothered to vote last year? Does Decker actually feel somewhat relevant in the World of Today, knowing that it’s essentially a projection of what’s running through the actual President’s brain 24/7? I don’t really know the answer to those questions, and I think this stuff kind of eats at Tim as well, given how much abuse he’s taken this past year from idiot redhatters who for whatever reason once thought of Tim as a kindred soul. Tim’s left-leaning politics are not really a secret; in 2012 he released a hilariously overblown tribute to Herman Cain whose real intent was really not all that ambiguous, though I guess you never know with some people.
Too Dumb for Suicide is a compilation of all the Trump-related songs that Heidecker’s been writing over the last year, minus “I Am a Cuck”, which Paul Simon put the kibosh on (bastard). Like his previous solo album In Glendale, there’s a bit of disappointment that such a subversive comedian like Heidecker, who often operates several ironic layers deep, would put out such a straightforward collection of songs. Several of these tunes are funny – most of them are not. At his best, he’s channeling his inner Randy Newman, doing character sketches such as “Wilbur Ross” and “Trump’s Private Pilot”. Best track is “Mar a Lago”, a Jimmy Buffet-style portrait of Trump, the guy who just wants to parade around his golf course in his bathrobe, wondering why everyone’s suddenly so upset with him. And I say that as someone who has never enjoyed a Jimmy Buffet song in his life. Much of the rest is either bitter (“Trump Tower”) or disgusting (“Imperial Bathroom”). They’re about as direct and unsubtle as you’ll see from Heidecker, and as such as kind of inscrutable. No, they’re not very sharp, but let’s not pretend Trump deserves any better. But there are a few tunes that have rustled some jimmies – “Richard Spencer” and “Four Chan” go after Trump’s most devout and delicate fans, and as such have drawn out a small but very vocal crowd of people to shout about how Not Mad they are. Poor souls. Just imagine how mad they’d be if someone advocated for their entire race to be wiped off the planet.
As for the music…I don’t know what can really be said about it, other than it’s fine, and if you liked the stuff he did as Heidecker & Wood or his solo album from last year then you’ll probably like this as well. Heidecker is a 40-year old man with the tastes of someone about two decades older, so if that puts you off then you probably shouldn’t bother with this (then again, all proceeds go to charity, so maybe you should buy it just to be nice). The songs are catchy and there are some cool Easter Eggs (for example “Imperial Bathroom” copping The Attractions’ keyboard style). It’s 36 minutes long, though only if you count a reprise of “Trump’s Private Pilot”, sung by Father John Misty. One of the members of Foxygen handles a bunch of instruments and produced the album, giving it a slick and professional sheen. Even if nothing else, it sounds pretty great.
Maybe it isn’t quite what we were promised when the country went to hell, but it’s cathartic enough for me, so whatever, good enough. For the record I think “Sentencing Day” is brilliant. “Mar a Lago” sort of is too, only because it gets stuck in my head a lot. Three more years, folks. Chin up.