God-Emperor Trump redivivus!
Source: God-Emperor Trump | YouTube
A powerful and evocative (if somewhat questionable, on theological grounds, as I've recounted elsewhere) meme (*) dating from what some call "the First (or Great) Meme War," leading up to the 2016 election, has made a surprise reappearance in an Italian carnevale float: God-Emperor Trump!
* "Meme" in its original sense of “an element of a culture or system of behavior that may be considered to be passed from one individual to another by nongenetic means, especially imitation.”
The massive animatronic papier-mâché figure was preceded by a retinue of dancing Ultramarines and Adepta Sororitas / Sisters of Battle – all tropes from the very popular tabletop (and sometimes electronic) wargame and sci-fi novel series Warhammer 40K. As one account of this rather epic Carnevale float put it,
"The popular franchise of tabletops, which also spurred several video games, typically depicts the Emperor as a walking epitome of epicness and unparalleled power. The colossal float of Trump conveyed the same message. Clad in shiny golden armor, he sported a grim, yet pompous and regal look in his eyes."
A number of Europeans familiar with the Carnevale di Viareggio – at least, those who are Left-leaning, to begin with – were quick to assert that the float was intended as satire. That may well be. But you don't put that much time, energy, money, and effort into a colossal sculpture (even a papier-mâché one) and its accompanying retinue without revealing, intentionally or otherwise, that you consider the subject of your efforts to have considerable importance and influence.
And as I pointed out in a Facebook exchange on the subject, once a meme (again, in the original sense) has been created – or, in this case, reinforced – its creator's control over how it is perceived, and the effect it may have, is limited at best. While the creator's original intent is not irrelevant, of course, the greater impact lies in how it is perceived by its viewers. The example I used was the song "Yankee Doodle": originally intended to be mocking, it became the unofficial anthem of a new nation (and the official state song of Connecticut).
The creators of this representation of "God-Emperor Trump" may have created a tribute to him, whether they intended to do so or not! Which in some ways is more interesting than if it had been originally intended as a tribute.
Dr. Steve Turley appears to agree, and goes far more deeply into the implications than I have done:
Interestingly enough, the Carnevale's own website makes no mention of satire, although it does speak of allegory. Indeed, it simply states that "Each year famous guests, politicians and sports figures come [to] Viareggio to admire their papier - mâché effigy as well as thousands of people decree the success of the event" – the implication being that many take pride in being so represented. The distinction between tribute and satire, it seems, may be largely a matter of perception... which of course is what I've been saying all along.
Now, it is true that the God-Emperor of Mankind is not always or necessarily portrayed as a sympathetic figure, even within the Warhammer 40K mythos. Yet no one denies his awesome power, nor his vital importance in protecting and guiding the Imperium of Man. This is what President Trump has been portrayed as: a mythic – albeit in a modern, created mythology – figure of immense power, who is also absolutely essential to the welfare of his people
If this float, and its accompanying cavalcade, were indeed planned as satire, the plan may well have backfired (except among those who already loathe the President). And perhaps, if President Trump is able to overcome or sidestep Democratic opposition, and defend our dangerous and vulnerable southern border, those who see him as portrayed in this meme may be able to say,