Friday, April 1, 2016

The Trump Coloring Book

So I was in my local Barnes & Noble, rearranging shelves so that Play Like a Pirate was displayed more prominently (I'm not joking about that part) and on my way out saw some of those "adult coloring books" on a table. I actually like those, although I liked coloring before coloring was cool, which makes me like a Crayola hipster or something.


Alongside an adult Star Wars coloring book and eighty-three different Mandala coloring books, and a Game of Thrones coloring book, I saw...The Trump Coloring Book. I picked it up, flipped through it, left it behind, and went out to my car. 

After sitting in the parking lot for about two minutes, I went back inside and bought a copy. Partially for the history teacher in me, partially for the part of me that's always thinking "how could I use that in a classroom?" and partially just...the twisted pleasure of it. Some of these images are really, really disturbing. The whole idea behind the "adult coloring book" craze is that it's relaxing to follow the lines, to bring life to these pages...but the imagery here was stressing me out, man! But it also made me laugh. And cringe. And weep. And snort. 

After looking at this coloring book, I looked for some on other presidential candidates, and this is by far the best. Not because I don't like Trump (politically or otherwise, I've never been a fan), but because it's well-done and simply funny. There are some Hillary ones that are fine, but the ones that are anti-Hillary are broadly misogynistic, and I'm honestly not sure if the Ted Cruz one I found is meant as parody or as a sincere appreciation of his devout nature. 

The cyclical nature of presidential campaigns mean that this coloring book is a novelty that will be forgotten soon enough...unless of course President Trump becomes a reality. In which case, some of these scenarios won't just be something a kid gets to color in, but something they'll be seeing in their history books. 

In that case, as my eleven year old said when he saw the coloring book: "we're gonna need more orange crayons."

 Author/artist M.G. Anthony has worked Trump into the patriotic iconography of the United States, including adding him to Mount Rushmore, having him sign the Constitution, flying Benjamin Franklin's kite, and crossing the Delaware.

That's not enough for the Donald, so he invades other parts of pop culture, swapping places with Marilyn Monroe, Michael Jackson, Harry Potter, Willy Wonka, and all four Beatles. Good luck getting the image of Donald Trump as Marilyn Monroe standing over the grate with the dress billowing up around him out of your head.

We even get some...substance? With Trump in showdowns against Kim Jong-Un, Vladimir Putin, and Hillary Clinton (playing Battleship, Chess, and Arm Wrestling, respectively).

I really bought this for myself, but I can see there being classroom applications for it -- as with everything else around us. M.G. Anthony chose the imagery he did for a reason. It's part patriotic symbols, part history, part pop culture. As with a political cartoonist, he's saying something about Donald Trump when he puts him on the Game of Thrones "Iron Throne." What message is the artist trying to send?  How would this book be different if it were representing a different candidate? Could you criticize the positions (or personality, which is what a lot of this comes down to) using different historic scenes, movies, or symbols for different candidates? If you were to pull someone forward from history and do this kind of a project for say, Queen Elizabeth I, what scenes would you put her into to examine her life in this simple, coloring book-style?

Or you know. Have a coloring contest with your students and give a candy bar to the winner. I just liked the book. :)

1 comment:

  1. Distubing! I think comedy really works when it hits a bedrock of truth. These images, as ludicrous as they are, do reflect Trump's image both as he projects it and as his followers see him. The fact that it is a coloring book may be a detail lost on all but non-followers. I was found this Googling to see if "Trump" and "Orange PEZ" had any images together so I could harrass my husband with them. Now I feel like I should medicate my eyes and my spirit, or maybe just myself as a whole with some spirits. The word picture descriptions shall haunt me as much as the fried gross KFC things that Google hit me with. The internet is a strange place. But YOUR book sounds cool! I will have to aquire a copy!