Let’s Spend a Few Minutes with This Photo of Donald Trump, Shall We

Come on. Come on. Let’s take a look.

by Joel Golby
19 January 2017, 1:57pm

Let's talk about sex, bay-bee / let's talk about you– and –me / let's talk about every single pixel of this photo please:

For context: this is the tweet President-elect Donald J. Trump sent yesterday, which as best as I can tell had two primary objectives and one secondary objective:

  1. Slowly put a smooth face on the first in a long, long, long, long, long line of Twitter-disseminated propaganda to be expected over the next four to eight years;
  2. Launch the new official Twitter-endorsed #Inauguration emoji-hashtag, which, seeing as Donald Trump doesn't ever use hashtags – I don't think he knows how to access the deep menu on his phone for secondary symbols – and, because the text of this tweet is relatively well punctuated and un-insane, presumably means it was written, approved and sent by a member of staff, and not by DJT himself *1;


3.   Confirm to the world that yes, god, he is definitely working on his speech, god, shut up. Like: I used to pull this exact pose at my desk when I was supposed to have been doing homework for hours but had actually just been playing Sonic 2 on the Megadrive, and a parent or parents were checking up on me to make sure I was doing what I was supposed to be doing and not playing Sonic 2 on Megadrive, and I would hustle and rush into this exact pose, a placid simulation of working. Notebook tilt and everything. This was exactly me.

But what's going on in this photo is the question, really. Because there's a lot going on. And we are going to inhale the entire thing like a musky, complex whisky, and see what bones come out. Come. Come with me. Come with me on a journey. A journey into this photo of Donald Trump.



Look at any other photo of Donald Trump and see if you come to the came conclusions as me, which are: the cheeks have been airbrushed smooth. The eye bags have been blurred to oblivion and, I think, colour-corrected to lessen the now-iconic white-on-orange look DJT's been rocking. I don't think computers have been used to tuck the jowls in, but I do think he's doing that "SHA-BANG!" thing we all learned about on YouTube a few years ago. The hair – and I mean Donald Trump's hair is kind of a walking, real-life Photoshop project, a perfect illusion; David Copperfield could make the Statue of Liberty disappear but he could not assemble as perfect a trick as Donald Trump's nest-hair – has had a few strands added to it here and there, I think. Not a lot of work, but some work.

Listen, if I were 70 years old, I would ask my team to airbrush my press shots before I tweeted them. I would do that. But if I were a millionaire-or-billionaire and I had an entire press team at my disposal, I'd get someone to do it properly. I would not tolerate such clumsy retouching on my watch, on my face.

Anyway, I'm sure a dude who signs off on what looks like five-minute sub-standard selfie airbrushing is going to make America great again, for sure.


How do I know there is nothing on that notepad when I cannot see the page of the notepad? How can I see so firmly make a judgement call that there are no markings on that page? Hands, people:

You only tilt a notepad like that when there's no plans written on it and you're trying to shield that information from the American people, or when you are in an exam and you don't want anyone copying your work. Unless DJT is writing his inauguration speech via a series of multiple choice questions, I think the first option is the one we're going to go with, here. Additional clues: pen being held halfway down the page in the absolute dead centre of it, where nobody has ever held a pen before; still using the first page of the notepad, suggesting no drafts at all; and, wait, why does a billionaire not have a leather-bound notebook to hand? Even I have a leather-bound notebook to hand, and I'm nothing. Did Donald J. Trump have to rootle around behind the stationary desk at Mar-A-Lago reception for something to write on, like I do every time I'm called into a meeting and I'm pretty sure I'm going to get fired in it, so I take a notebook in just so I look slightly more intellectual and less unemployable?


You can try to tell me that, just out of shot, there aren't three extremely hairy dudes in matching piss-yellow towels, steaming together, but I'm not going to believe you. There is definitely a large bald dude vigorously, vigorously drying his balls in the same room as this photo is being taken. I am talking: with vigour. Like he wants them to fall off.


I have never seen a statue look so mad at a human being. I didn't even know statues could get mad. But huh: this eagle statue is super, super pissed.


I asked some Latin nerds and as best as I can tell the tiles say "PLVS VLTRA" – even though the "R" looks consistently like a "P", I know, I know – which is i. the motto of Charles V, Holy Roman Emperor and ruler of the Spanish Empire; ii. is Latin for "plus ultra", which sort of translates to "no one is better"; and iii. refers to the ambition of world power after the European discovery of the Americas, it says here

"Oh, you're thinking too much about a tile" – You. 

And: yes. But tell me that again in three years, when Mexico is on fire. Let's see who takes the ego tile seriously then.


The bit we've so easily smoothed over because we've been too busy looking at Trump's smooth eyes/death eagle/making notebook memes is he referred to his sprawling Florida estate Mar-a-Lago as "The Winter White House", which isn't a thing. Yes, the person who built it hoped it would one day become a winter retreat for presidents, but no presidents ever took her up on her offer, and then Donald Trump bought it in 1985. The White House is the Winter White House. I mean, I kind of respect DJT's attempt to make being the president a sort of part-time summer gig, but no. You have to be president every day for four years. That's sort of one of the rules. You don't get to nominate another White House to go and live in when you're cold.


Signs point to no! But then whose terror eagle is it!

So what can we derive from this photo, this photo of Donald Trump? Firstly: dude needs a better airbrush guy. Secondly: needs a desk of his own. Third: better stationery or at least a better stationery supplier. Fourth: someone really needs to sit this guy down and teach him about typing on a computer, because that's a way more efficient way of writing an inauguration speech. Fifth: In one day's time this man – a man who just tweeted (via, from the looks of it, someone else) in an attempt to convince me he owned a desk and regularly wrote on a notepad at it and failed on both counts – is going to be the most powerful man in the world. Michael Flatley's going to be doing a wizened old Riverdance at the inauguration. Bring champagne with you to the end of the world ceremony.


1. I often think about this. In my head, I like to compare DJT's to my own tweets: I would say, maybe, that out of every hundred tweets I send, there is a blaring typo or punctuation fuckoo in maybe one of them (bar deliberate stylistic errors as per the trend of the day: missing full stops off the end, "u" instead of "you", that sort of thing). That is an unspectacular hit rate: I think a 1 percent error in voicing my own message and the thoughts inside my own head is pretty average, to be expected. But Donald Trump – as of tomorrow, the leader of the free world, remember – is idling at around about a 95 percent rate. Like the tweets he writes himself are total utter shit shows. In the run up to the election, his campaign staff famously took his own Twitter password away from him.

The man cannot be trusted to write a tweet but we are giving him nuclear codes. I mean, it's fine. I've been ready to die for years. But the rest of you – people with purpose, people with ambition, people with potential and something to live for – man. Man. I would be so pissed off that this guy was marching us so inevitably to our deaths. †

† Ha ha, wow: getting a lot of feedback from this footnote already. A lot of critics are saying, "But Donald Trump is 70 fucking years old! You expect him to be able to use the technology and lingo of the youth? Come on, man! You ever see your nan try and program a VHS machine? You think she could send a tweet? Do you want to make your nan send a tweet? No! Give the guy a break!" And I must concede that no, I do not want to make someone who cannot program a VHS player send a tweet. Nor would I want them to sit as President for four years minimum, eight years maximum. That's just my opinion! I just feel like Donald Trump doesn't know how to charge his own phone without having to get Ivanka to help him, and for that reason – no other reason! – he shouldn't be the most powerful man in civilization! ‡

‡ That said, if Donald Trump completes an open challenge – say, programs a VHS to record a full episode of Match of the Day, successfully plugs a USB keyboard into a laptop, orders exactly one Uber, all within, say, an hour timeframe – I will take all the previous back and endorse him forever. Because I know he can't do it