In the aftermath of Donald Trump’s surprising victory in the U.S. presidential race, people around the world have spent the day mourning, celebrating, and — perhaps most of all — scratching their heads in amazement at such a profound rejection of the political establishment.
If the footage from Clinton’s campaign headquarters in New York City is any indication of what the Democratic candidate’s supporters are feeling across the United States, Wednesday is a day full of tears and questions to the sky about what went wrong.
It’s another story in Russia, however, which was one of the few countries on the planet that generally preferred Trump over Clinton. While many members of Moscow’s political intelligentsia may have supported Clinton, hoping she would maintain pressure on the Kremlin to respect human rights, Trump’s victory is nonetheless a far-off event, and the distance from home seems to have helped Russians, whether or not they liked the American billionaire, to find their sense of humor, when many American liberals are still busy weeping.
One of the most popular jokes circulating on social media on Wednesday was an edited clip from the 1992 film “Home Alone 2: Lost in New York,” focusing on Donald Trump’s memorable cameo. In the edited video now entertaining Russian Internet users, Barack Obama’s head is superimposed on the body of the movie’s protagonist, Kevin McCallister. In the scene, McCallister stops Trump in the lobby of the Plaza Hotel and asks where the exit is. With Obama added to the footage, the exchange becomes a ruthless joke about Trump replacing Obama in the White House.
Others in Russia recalled that Bob Gale, the screenwriter for “Back to the Future: Part II,” revealed in October 2015 that the film’s chief antagonist, Bill Tannen, was modeled on Donald Trump. In that movie, “Biff” uses ill-gotten casino wealth to transform a Californian city into a dystopian wasteland. The oppositionist movement “Open Russia” reminded readers on Twitter about this story, tweeting a photoshopped image from the film, posted earlier in the day by Dutch blogger Maurice van Berkel.
There was gallows humor aplenty in Russia, and the spirit of these jokes is captured perhaps best by the person who left memorial flowers and a solitary candle outside a U.S. embassy office building in Moscow, accompanied by a small sign that read, “Je suis USA” — a nod to the solidarity movement that followed the Charlie Hebdo shooting in Paris in January 2015.
Melania Trump, a former model born in Yugoslavia and the next First Lady, is drawing considerable attention in Russia. On a night when most experts expected to see the first woman win the U.S. presidency, talk on social media has instead turned to Mrs. Trump, with Internet users ogling at half-naked photographs from her modeling days. Internet users have also been making light of Trump’s reputation for objectifying women and surrounding himself with beautiful models, joking that this might be his future presidential cabinet:
For others, like Open Russia’s Polina Nemirovskaya, the election of Donald Trump appears to have exposed nascent insanity all around.
My taxi driver pounces on me and says (1) it’s awful about Trump, and (2) the world’s greatest leader was Saddam Hussein.