Trump's latest campaign ad is living satire

Donald Trump’s Twitter account shared a surreal campaign ad made by the group Immigrants☆4☆Trump, which parodied the trailer of 2010 sci-fi video game “Mass Effect 2.” The ad has since been taken down by YouTube at the insistence of the game’s publisher.

The trailer is made up of footage of Trump’s smarmiest smiles mixed with Trump walking in slow motion, fear-mongering news clips, Hillary Clinton barking, and George Soros speaking in the voice of a bodysnatching alien, all set to the beautiful, heart-grabbing score of “Mass Effect 2.”

Trump decided it would be a good idea to directly share this with his over seven million Twitter followers.

“Mass Effect 2,” for the record, is a space-opera roleplaying game about an undead space cowboy - or space cowgirl; the protagonist is customizable - who flies around the Milky Way to battle a race of bodysnatching aliens bent on collecting human space colonists for their devious plan to get better at bodysnatching. It also features a frustrating amount of fetch and delivery missions.

The greatest appeal of “Mass Effect 2” - the trilogy’s pinnacle - is that the player makes moral choices throughout the game, guiding their personalized Commander Shepard character to be either a paragon of galactic do-gooding or a xenophobic renegade bent on subjugation of all other races.

The most renegade play-through can make even Shepard’s human superiors afraid of him. Not that this has any relevance to Trump’s campaign, per se.

Martin Sheen plays the game’s taskmaster, and in “Trump Effect,” we hear one of his more badass monologues:

“We’re at war. No one wants to admit it, but humanity is under attack. One very specific man might be all that stands between humanity and the greatest threat of our brief existence… We need a leader,” Sheen, as “The Illusive Man,” says.

One of the video’s stills features three quotes. One reads, “’Donald Trump is simply awe-inspiring’” - attributed to “all who gaze upon him.”

The other two are both attributed to Trump himself: “I wrote ‘The Art of the Deal’” and ‘No more Oreos!’”

The video is completely over the top; it’s impossible to tell whether this originally was an intentional satire on Trump or a sincere tribute joking with itself.

Throughout the “Mass Effect” trilogy, the player gains the power to influence other characters through consistent paragon or consistent renegade actions. It doesn’t quite matter - for their influence powers - whether they’re kind or cruel; they just have to be extreme in their choices.

Trump’s campaign has been loaded with moments as strange as “Trump Effect.”

When former vice-presidential candidate Sarah Palin endorsed Trump, The New York Times’ Michael Barbaro compared her speech to slam poetry.

“He is from the private sector, not a politician,” Palin said. “Can I get a ‘Hallelujah’?”

On another occasion, Trump has talked about his penis size on a nationally televised debate. “Trump Effect” is just another drop in the bucket of Trump’s anomalous candidacy.

Internet culture has a concept called Poe’s Law, which essentially states that it can be almost impossible to tell a parody of an extreme viewpoint apart from a sincere expression of an extreme viewpoint. At this point, it no longer matters whether Trump’s campaign or “Trump Effect” are sincere or satire. There’s no difference.

“Mass Effect,” is named for the fictional ability within the series to manipulate gravity through advanced technology and or space magic. The “Trump Effect” is something like the ability to manipulate reality by blurring it with parody.

“Trump Effect,” according to its video, is rated “T for Trump - Make America Great Again.”


Chris McDermott is a staff writer for The Daily Campus. He can be reached via email at christopher.mcdermott@uconn.edu.