Donald Trump has now added to the condemnations of Snoop Dogg’s latest music video, in which the rapper points a toy gun at a clown named “Ronald Klump” and pulls the trigger, firing a “bang” flag. “Can you imagine what the outcry would be if @SnoopDogg, failing career and all, had aimed and fired the gun at President Obama?” he tweeted. “Jail time!”
The indignant reaction to Snoop’s satirical video for “Lavender (Nightfall Remix)” is the latest example of how politically themed art can double as a prop for whatever side it’s opposing. The controversial scene comes toward the end of the clip as the culmination of a storyline that imagines a country populated by clowns and “doggs.” Snoop and directors Jesse Wellens and James DeFina went out of their way to signal that they were working in the realm of satire, fantasy, and cartoonishness, but the shock value of pulling a trigger on a presidential lookalike can’t be denied. The video has certainly succeeded at drawing attention—but more for its ability to confirm preconceived partisan narratives than for anything it actually said.
In the video, a clown dad, played by the actor Michael Rapaport, eats breakfast with his clown family in his clown home, where past-due bills plaster the fridge. On his way to work, he is pulled over by a clown cop. The dad happens to have his young son’s squirt gun in his briefcase; the sight of it leads the cop to shoot him, triggering a spray of glitter instead of blood. Another clown films the incident, which then makes the news. There’s an allegory here, but it’s not exactly the expected one—both the victim and the cop are white, and the onlooker is black.