Watch: Airline Uses Kids and Christmas To Take a Pathetic Shot at Trump
Contrary to the belief of many readers, I can enjoy a good joke at the expense of any Republican, up to and including Donald Trump. It’s just that there are so few good jokes and so many lazy ones.
Let’s take one common trope: that Republicans don’t like the poor. All right, a joke can be crafted out of that. But that’s usually the entire joke. A Republican is presented. His or her disdain for the poor is established. Everyone can laugh. End of joke.
It gets more obnoxious when it comes to Republican figures. Yes, Sarah Palin was folksy. That’s material for a bit, not the entire bit. George W. Bush was prone to malapropisms; simply putting him in an “SNL” sketch where he mispronounces stuff isn’t funny.
This basic concept has taken on a new life in the Trump era. Here’s what a solid 75 percent of Trump “impressions” consist of: “I’m yuge. There’s no one yuger than me. There’s no one better at making this joke at my expense than I am.” Then he makes a hand gesture. “Make America great again. This is great. I know nothing. I’m the best at knowing nothing.” Repeat until your time is up.
And now we’re exporting this tripe, too — to New Zealand, as the case is here, where the national airline released a Christmas video taking a pathetic shot at the president, this time with kids!
The video begins with Santa typing away on one of those late-80s briefcase style laptops when one of the elves comes in with a to-do checklist for him on a tablet. This already raises some serious questions about IT deployment and interoperability at the North Pole, but never mind: On the list, Santa has to send out the list of the naughty kids to the elves. Except, since Santa is so bad at computers — because he’s using that old 286 laptop, get it? — he sends it to a kid called Elvis Anderson.
I’d here again like to ask permission to digress — if Santa has that 25-year-old OS/2 Warp-running laptop on the internet and directing the world’s largest socialized toy operation from the top of the planet, he’s clearly more competent at tech than the stupid elf who has a $.99 checklist app on an iPad. I’m sorry, this is pretty much a “Road House”-level plot hole for me. I understand this is a three-minute YouTube advertisement for the national airline of a country people only care about if they’re obsessed with “Lord of the Rings,” but I’m pointing this out because it’s not the only aspect about this spot that self-evidently needed more thought.
So anyway, somewhere in a grim New Zealand school that looks like the setting for a bad Dickens modernization, young Elvis Anderson receives the naughty list while in detention and discovers that he’s on it, along with his co-detentionists. They call a worldwide summit to get representatives of all the kids in the world on the naughty list to help flip them over to the other side of the ledger — along with some help from Air New Zealand, which flies them all to Australia Jr. for the conclave.
Again, Air New Zealand could have cut the three kids off off the cost of a Playstation 4 and called it a day, which would have been more responsible in every conceivable fashion, but no. Then we wouldn’t have had a dumb, three-minute Christmas advertisement. So then all of the brats arrive on a puddle-jumper — including one with a power suit and a MAGA cap. As Santa might have said, oh ho ho ho.
At the symposium, which looks like the world’s lamest Model U.N. competition, the Argentinian representative promises to reduce “personal gaseous emissions” — farts, for those of you with a Common Core education — Japan says they’ll reduce hair-pulling and Great Britain claims their kids will eat more vegetables.
Then we get to the MAGA-hat-wearing American kid wearing the power suit. “I have to say I’m not naughty at all,” he says. “In fact, I’m the nicest person I know.”
After some laughter, he said, “I didn’t expect that reaction, but that’s OK” — a riff on the United Nations speech in which delegates gave the president a laugh after he had recited his administration’s accomplishments. Get it? Trump and Americans are stupid, arrogant idiots — all brought to you by children who have zero idea they’re being used to make a political point.
Anyway, after the New Zealand contingent, led by Elvis, promises to “do all our chores, spend less time on our phones and be nicer to Australia” — the last part delivered with Elvis’ fingers crossed behind his back — the naughty meter goes fully over to nice. A bunch of confetti falls over the bad Model U.N. conference. Santa’s sleigh can be seen at the end. The only way this could have had a happier ending is if that right jolly old elf got one of those Bondi blue iMacs to replace that utterly garbage laptop and maybe inch a little bit closer to the 21st century.
None of this is heartwarming. None of this is funny, not even the part about being nicer to Australia. None of this is Christmasy. On top of that, every joke is about as lazy as it gets.
I think I’ve touched on all of the various issues here — “tee hee, flatulence is hilarious!” — but let’s zero in on the Trump “joke.” What does it say, precisely? It literally takes the most basic construction of the standard quip about the president — yes, he likes to tout his own achievements — and just recycles it, along with the awkward fact that it involves a kid in a power suit. That’s it.
This joke has been around in various forms since the 1980s. The only time I remember laughing at it was back in 1999-ish, when I read Christopher Buckley’s satirical inaugural address for Trump back when the mogul was first considering a presidential run under the Reform Party ticket. (“For starters, I don’t know why this is called a ‘mall.’ Where I come from, New York City — which happens to be the greatest city in the world, and the reason I say that is that I built most of it, and I only build quality, so I think I know what I’m talking about — a mall doesn’t look like this. Where are the shops?”)
That’s somewhat funny because it’s a) it’s Christopher Buckley, one of the funniest writers alive and b) the reason that he’s funny is that he puts some work into actually being humorous. (Oh, and there’s also c) the fact that he never thought Trump would be giving an actual inaugural address — but neither writer nor reader knew that at the time.)
That, in relief, shows the problem with jokes about Republicans and why they aren’t funny anymore. Jokes require effort. I’m not even talking a traditional setup-and-punchline form, just some setup that evinces original thought.
There’s no outrage, mind you, except at the prospect of using kids to make watered-down political points. I’m just sort of marveling over how pathetic the whole thing is. The only thing that seemed to stick out in my mind, after three minutes of this dross, was why a guy who can afford to make playthings for (or deliver coal to) all the world’s youngsters was using a computer less powerful than the Atari ST he “gave” me when I was eight.
Truth and Accuracy
We are committed to truth and accuracy in all of our journalism. Read our editorial standards.