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Trump's Mugshot Matters 3 min read

Trump's Mugshot Matters

There were tons of fakes, so why care about the real one?

By Cary Littlejohn

A dear friend and I have had a running gchat conversation going since our time in law school together. We graduated a decade ago, so almost without fail, for more roughly 13 years now, we've had our little gmail inboxes open with our little chat windows in the corner, chattering away.

Has technology evolved? Sure has. Did I tell that story to a college student a few years ago, and they scrunch up their nose at me and say, "Why didn't you just use iMessage?" It didn't exist, you little shit, that's why. Our jobs have changed, and we've continued talking except for maybe my time in a classroom as a middle school teacher, when I had no computer with me during the day.

Why do I tell this random tidbit about my life? Because it's to hammer home this point: This person and I talk about everything (and likely have already talked about it before). We're both educated people, informed of the news of the day, and work in the information economy. Our long-running conversation often looks like a discarded script from Seinfeld, because why wouldn't it? And yet, despite all of that, one thing we've spent almost zero time talking about are the legal troubles of former president Donald Trump. Not that we're not interested, being informed citizens (and Democrats, to boot), and we've certainly still got a glimmer of the mental horsepower required to talk about his legal cases as the practicing lawyers we once were. But we don't. And haven't.

But I have mentioned to her, after indictments #3 and #4, that, "Isn't it wild that our former president has been indicted AGAIN, and we haven't mentioned it?" She replies with an "lol" and that's about it.

I thought of her when I read this article from WIRED that was talking about why, in a world of fakes (some perpetuated by the former president's own campaign as a fundraising tool), Donald Trump's actual mugshot matters.

In a World of Fakes, Trump’s Real Mug Shot Matters
The first booking photo of a US president stands out among a sea of photoshops and AI-generated images online.

Because of course it does. It's historic. It's unprecedented. It's unbelievable (though totally predictable). And yet, looking back on it, we didn't comment on it today. Not a word. Not a joke. How can something be all those things (without hyperbole) and yet it just rolls over us like water off ducks' backs?

Over-stimulation, most likely. Too much input. Too many historic, unprecedented things have wiped out our normal response mechanisms. We're just guarding against trying to keep up with it all.

But the internet (by which I mean Twitter (yes, it's still Twitter; don't care what it's been renamed to)) was giddy with the chance to see it. The Photoshop wizards had their fun with it. And in minutes after it was released, this historic, unprecedented "document" had been graffiti'd and repurposed and meme'd and joked to the point of it hardly seeming any different than our silent indifference.

We all just laughed about it. Because what else is there to do? Not only was this clown our president, but he stands a very real shot at being so yet again. What else is there to do but laugh (if not cry)?

It should be noted that we missed out on some quality jokes, though. Here's my favorite.