One latest addition to the Trump oeuvre is a made-in-Canada photo series that aims to illustrate the Republican nightmare's most memorable mistakes, along with the die-hard fans that refuse to be phased by any of it.
Created by Montreal-raised, New York-based photographer Jean Malek, the aptly-titled "Locker Room" series features the cannot unhear "grab her by the pussy" debacle, a reference to former Miss Universe Alicia Machado, and some very dubious Trump supporter fashions.
We called him up in New York.
VICE: Originally from Montreal, you now live in the United States. How are you finding the presidential election experience?
Jean Malek: I find it funny. I have roommates here [in New York], which allows me to see the reactions from locals. It's really not very different from the reactions people have in Montreal, except that here there's also this "shame" factor. I watched two of the three debates with my roommates, and I found it super interesting to see their physical reactions to the candidates' comments, like they couldn't believe what was happening, they were almost hiding their faces. To me it's more like a reality TV show than a political debate.
Where did the inspiration come from for this photo series?
I usually run with things that inspire me, that make me think or laugh. Given all the crazy things that have been said, I told myself: "Damn, it'd be really interesting to put this in images."
When "Grab them by the… ahem…" came out, I told myself: "OK, this has gotten too out of hand, I have to do something with this. I've got to do a series based on everything that's been said in this election." With everything the media got out on Trump, you wonder how the race has even continued.
I wasn't looking to give my political opinion, because Americans will vote for whoever they want, but I wanted to illustrate this in images, kind of like a caricature.
How did you find these models? Are they Montrealers?
Yes, in fact, the two people who play the Trump supporters are a real-life couple. The guy is from France and his girlfriend is from Quebec.
So they're not really Trump supporters?
That's kind of the rumour that was going around, people had the impression that I had taken real fans to mock them, but no.
How did you find the guy playing Trump?
I was looking for a guy who had kind of the same build. I called a casting agency and I asked them. The guy was super motivated. In life, he's a super passionate guy and involved in a lot of projects. But I knew he'd have to do the "Grab them bythe…" photo, so I had to tell his agent: "Listen, there's a photo I want to do to illustrate what Trump said, and so he's going to have to grab a woman's genitals." So to be sure from the outset, I asked his agent to mention it to him, to make sure he didn't freak out during the shoot, but he was very at ease with it. Same thing for the girl of course.
The most shocking photo, in my opinion, is that one, which you called #GHBTP. How are people reacting to it?
In my gang, people find it hilarious. There are others who say that it's troubling, but funny nevertheless. When you hear those words, you tell yourself, come on, an American presidential candidate can't say that and remain in the race. But when you see that phrase in a picture, it adds a whole other layer…
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