Fans of the musical “Avenue Q” (or philosophy majors) know that Schadenfreude is the German word for ‘taking pleasure in the pain of others’. It may not be nice, but boy is it understandable – you know, that warm glow you get when the car that cut you off gets pulled over for speeding, or when the mean girl who tormented you in high school shows up at a reunion looking dumpy and miserable. (Avenue Q, if you haven’t seen it, is a really fun R-rated spoof of Sesame Street with human characters & puppets, including songs like “Everyone’s A Little Bit Racist,” “If You Were Gay,” and “The Internet Is For Porn.”
One of the characters is a grown-up Gary Coleman, who is reduced to working as an apartment building superintendent, and he introduces the song “Shadenfreude” to explain why we enjoy other people’s suffering, and why his misery makes everyone else feel better.) Democrats, liberals, and humans with functioning brains are all experiencing a new variation on that gloating sense as we watch the GOP scramble to cope with their increasingly bizarre nominee.
Back when Trump was first starting to do well in the primaries, NYTimes columnist Paul Krugman coined the term “Trumpenfreude” as we celebrated the party’s freakout over even the possibility of his winning the nomination. It was pretty funny even then, but now that Trump is the actual nominee, the term seems absolutely appropriate as we watch establishment Republicans try to distance themselves from Trump without alienating Trumpites.
I find it especially amusing to watch politicians who once endorsed him try to pretend they’re shocked, shocked to discover that oh my gosh, Trump has some awful hateful ideas…did they not listen to his campaign announcement speech? Not to mention that Trump got into politics as the leader of the ‘birther’ movement to discredit President Obama…
So I’ve decided to add a little musical gloating, puppet and all. Incidentally, don’t try this at home – using a puppet is WAY harder than I’d anticipated, and I’m just now getting the feeling back in my forearms! (A little background: for the past 4 years I’ve been channeling my political opinions into weekly topical comedy songs which I’ll start sharing here.
At various points, it’s been tough to come up with a topic, but that hasn’t been the case lately, and I suspect that for the next couple of months, Trump will be writing most of my material for me!) Enjoy!