Media are the exotic tribes I ethnographically study.     I have constructed projects earlier about politics and also pornography.  I have even written an experimental Trump video back in 2010, and others still about the Bush presidents.  I have examined a variety of perversions (1 2 3 4 5), and critiqued visual anthropology (1 2 3 4 ), but I have never attempted a project quite like this. 

     I began this project by purposefully recording the first TV broadcasts of Trump’s funereal inaugural events.  Then the next day, I recorded Sean Spicer lying about crowd size during his first press briefing, and on it went.  Every day would bring a half dozen more media events.  How could I handle all this?  I determined I needed some structure.  After all, I’m just one guy sitting alone in his home study.  I can only do so much inside one project.

      As we all regularly witness on TV, whatever comes out of Washington D.C. is ripe for opinions; and much of that commentary  happens so fast it often remediates simultaneously to the unfolding event.  The result is often an exponential avalanche of media fabrication.  So I decided to keep this project very simple.  This wouldn’t be just another tiresome screed.  I would forego internal editing as much as possible.  I would allow Trump’s administration to say its piece inside each video instead of trying to publicly murder it all through the heavy-hand of media brutalism: certain death by a thousand iconoclastic edits. 

      But, to construct an effective dialectical examination, I needed to find a correct critical juxtaposition.  My particular surreal
methods of critical ethnography require absurdist counter-reflections to help sharpen a topic’s essences.  So no comedy shtick here, unless you find stuff like delaying recovery aid to American citizens in Puerto Rico to be funny.  And I don’t... so no humor. 

     Humor is too often impotent anyway, and comedy too often just another vehicle for objectification.  Besides, few comedians have ethically earned authority to raise their voice in the public forum.  This project is not to be comedy.  This is critical (auto?) ethnographic surrealism; although things may soon change for the worse yet again.  My work may soon be (both widely and legally) misunderstood as just one more “deep fake” click-hole from another marginalized Cassandra.  Indeed, this may already be true in insidious Orwellian fashion: “War is peace.  Freedom is slavery.  Ignorance is strength.”  So then, how might my home videos counterpoint Trump’s lying, robbery, rape and racism?

      Pornography, rather obviously, seemed to perfectly fit the other half of this dirty experiment.  Total, utter, complete, shameful objectification, as found throughout all pornography, could prove to be a viable -- Absurdist -- avenue to explore below the surface of Trump’s perverse iceberg.  Trump + Porn?  I had to think a long time about that surreality.  Was I critically deciding to attempt to make some really fucked up, yet factually accurate ethnographic comparisons about a very dangerous man posing as president of the United States?  Risky stuff, but this is an actual (sur)real critical method for understanding the madness.

     And there you have it.  This project was doomed to be loaded with perversion.  Almost by definition, I understood it would receive no support from any corner.  How could it be otherwise in this culture?  But then, this experiment might also expose some important factual truths along the way.  Ok then, I’ll attempt this experiment, because Trump has shown himself to be more than just narcissistic, he is a sadist. (Read: Trump is a person who derives pleasure, even sexual gratification, from inflicting pain or humiliation on others.)  Indeed, Trump and his crony-criminals are professed “killers”.  In religious counterfeit to Jesus, Trump is the embodiment of an antichrist -- a man of sin, a false prophet, a monstrous beast -- who now perversely appeals to a lot of Republican evangelicals as a kind of biblical sign, as a prophecy now made manifest.

      So I posited: Trump and Pornography symbolically exchange each other jingoistically like ‘soup and sandwich’.  They just belong together; perversion alongside perversion.  Each component equally deserving its own “parental guidance warning” label, each inflecting the other toward a higher mode of critical understanding.  Good, this research would be rather linear.  For instance, when Trump spoke his lies -- like branding Mexicans as criminals and rapists -- I could easily envision him speaking alongside someone smearing human feces onto their face and eating it... and then vomiting... and then eating that again.  Similar images, eh? 

     Each video would be a grotesque performative collage.  Straight forward absurdist stuff, I figured. 
 So how should I write back
 to what I am seeing on my
 screen in a manner faithful
 to the experience I’m
 experiencing right now?
One deep perversion exchanging itself for the other.  Was it multiplying negatives to make a positive...?

      Critical ethnography, however, is always a tricky observational experiment.  The methodical collection of cultural material is the easy first part.  It is during immersion and during its writing, however, where important experimentation and critical awareness happens.  Images are, of course, as slippery as words.  Trying to manage both audio and visual simultaneously is a lot like herding cats.  So how should I write back to what I am seeing on my screen in a manner faithful to the experience I’m experiencing right now? 

      What voice should I use?  Who is my audience?  Do I even want an audience?  What style of language and syntax are best?  How much time and energy am I willing to spend here?  What do I want to get out of this project?  What if all this backfires and I get into big trouble?  A hundred more questions flooded my head when considering pushing back against Trump-media with Trump-porn.  What will my wife think?  How am I going to explain this project to friends?  Am I strong enough to do a project like this?  Will anyone even read it if I make it?

      All told, however, my rules of engagement were rather simple.   I have a small 15” TV on my desk usually tuned to 24-hour news networks.  Whenever Trump or a minion spoke, I recorded it.  Then on the internet, I searched for any porn with any kind of irrational resemblance, no matter how ugly or absurd, as an equalizing oppositional perversion.  Nothing anodyne.  This would be an exercising of Reciprocal Verisimilitude....a critical method in direct opposition to Damnatio memoriae.

     Each portion of each video inside this project represents some of the most vile and perverse content I have ever witnessed on my home screens.  Yet, the similarities are stunning: Our president openly strangling our democracy for TV ratings -- and people so sick in their head, they willfully communicate their perversions on
camera as some hideous ritual of seduction.  Both push the same putridness through to my home screen, for me the viewer to click and ingest.  (Factoid: No project I make ever gets freakier than actual life.)

      My videos purposefully startle, triggering new responses in the viewer through intentional manipulations of surreal montage.  But this isn’t normally where the most important educational lessons reside.  Cultivating a factually educated memory begins during the act of stopping, watching, listening, recording, and responding in kind.  The magic is in the method.

      To make each video I had to listen closely to Trump’s every word and action.  I noted his repetitions, inflections, postures, pauses, and lies.  I can typically listen to a particular piece of Trump video a dozen times in order to juxtapose properly, critically.  This activity isn’t merely an act of reflex-commentary.  I watch and hear every horrible lie Trump performs on TV for myself.  And I do this multiple times every day for every video I make. 

      Critical appropriation and remix help me to consider, to compare and contrast, and to respond and remember over extended periods of time... and also to practice and perform good ethnographic media writing.  Parody (not this work) is typically a more superficial, sketchy, contemporaneous, performative reply; anyone can swing the bat.  Ethnography (which is this work) is an in-depth, comprehensive, longitudinal, illustrative explication; few people ever employ my methodologies.  (Cautionary truth: Ethnography is also regularly hijacked as a means for profitable human surveillance.)

      Final assemblage was typically determined by each video clip’s content: length, camera placement, speech patterns, background music, screen composition, even color combinations.  It didn’t really matter to me which video portion is positioned ‘inside‘ which.  The primary purpose was to assemble each video in a manner where the porn element was of sufficient strength to viscerally illuminate the liar speaking on camera/screen to me. 

      I only use iMovie 6HD (2006), and a 27” iMac (2012).  My tools are almost extinct by today’s standards.  I also live beyond the reach of coax.  So I have a modest satellite service plan, which regularly bottoms out about every two weeks, after which I have to up/down load during the midnight hours, until the top of the month arrives again and normal service resumes.  That’s about it.  I utilize as little ‘production value’ as possible.

      Overwhelmingly, I frequented 3-5 popular porn sites accessible to anyone in North America with an internet connection: You Porn,
 These are the same
 websites which most
 everyone, including the
 preteens you know,
 deny ever visiting.
Hamster, X Videos, Porn Hub.  These are typically the first porn sites found at the top of most any Google porn-video search.  These are the very same websites which most everyone, including the grand parents and preteens you know, deny ever visiting.  But people of all ages do visit these sites of perversion daily, and by the tens of millions.  (NOTE: Is it any surprise a pornographer is in the Oval Office?)

      Once on a porn site, I searched through the mountains of pre-categorized videos using a host of pertinent keywords.  For instance, I preferred to search first with the porn keyword Saggy.  I find a lot of porn videos specifically tagged “saggy” to be sufficiently strong for my purposes.  Plus they make me laugh.  Then, when I peruse another porn site, I search first with that same keyword again in order to determine the amount of similar content.  Many porn sites are merely duplicates of many others; each holding mostly identical content only differently packaged. 

      After pairing a Trump video to a Porn video, craftsmanship was all that remained: simple edits, fades, and audio sync.  I would liken the process this way, “Quick and dirty, like gesture drawings with graphite on paper.”  Others may say, “Quick and dirty, like a lazy hand-job with some lube and a towel.”  Either way these are salacious daily jottings, purposefully lewd, vulgar, ham-handed, grotesque...exactly like Trump’s own tweeting.  I’d simply make each video as is, raw, without dwelling over production perfection.  After a month or two, I began to maintain a schedule (ritual humiliation) doing this all at least once every day, like a teenage girl entering her secret “Dear Diary.”  But shortly, I realized just how potent, even dangerous, this form of reciprocity -- critical ethnographic journaling -- can be.






An American

resident of Canada, experimenting with new forms of critical media ethnography in Cultural Farming.


                    Click to view main project & 400 videos

Preface  Premise  Project  Potlatch  Pornography  Politics  Postscript  Peroration


    Intro: The Dirty Presidency

                            January 2017 - January 2018

                   Click to view main project & 400 videos

                  intro  video           entry  video

Preface  Premise  Project  Potlatch  Pornography  Politics  Postscript  Peroration