Since his 2016 campaign, President Donald Trump and his allies—foreign and domestic—have relied on visual propaganda to present the picture of a working class billionaire, a thrice-divorced family man, and a benevolent bully.
Whether it's false memes manufactured overseas or official White House videos designed to look like campaign ads, the President—a former reality television host—knows how to wield production design in his favor, turning the 20,000+ lies he's told since his inauguration into mere special effects.
This reliance on propaganda has led Trump to repeatedly use consequential developments in government—such as the recent confirmation of Justice Amy Coney Barrett to the Supreme Court—into partisan campaign ads. He's orchestrated taxpayer-funded parades to do the same.
Trump unveiled his latest propaganda video at a recent rally in the swing state of Michigan. For Trump's critics, the video was as bleak as the weather in which it premiered.
The bizarre video invokes anti-democratic imagery commonly used to scare Republican voters into mobilizing—the Hollywood sign with lightning in the horizon, "closed" signs, "Fear" spelled out in Scrabble tiles, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA)—over the song "In the End," originally performed by Linkin Park.
The pro-Trump portions of the video show rising stock prices, ascending military jets, a Black man and white man solving centuries of institutional racism with a high five, and—perhaps predictably—a stern looking Trump walking in slow motion to the cinematic music.
With nearly 250 thousand Americans dead from the pandemic Trump continues to dismiss, millions more unemployed by it, and a years-long division often exacerbated by the President's off-the-cuff tweets, Trump's critics weren't seeing the epic statesman the video tried to present.
In fact, many were disturbed at a level of deceptive propaganda that fictional dystopias warned us about.
Some found humor, however dark, in its absurdity.
With the presidential election only days away, it's possible the United States is seeing the last of Trump's infamous rallies as we've come to know them since 2015.