Trump launched his campaign in front of an "audience" of actors paid $50/each to wear campaign shirts and cheer wildly, and he's brought his paid cheering section with him into the presidency, bringing along staffers to applaud at key moments during his press conferences and other appearances.
The practice has its origin in ancient Rome, where the Emperor Nero deployed his own crowds, called "Augustiani," to cheer at his indifferent poetry and lyre playing. It was revived in 17th and 18th century opera circles, where "claques" were used to "huzzah or hiss their favorite performers."
The claque died out in the 19th century, but everything old is new again, and Trump has revived claques as an integral part of his governing strategy. It's a sharp move: if you can't see who's applauding, you might assume that when Trump draws cheers for damning CNN as "fake news" that the press corps is cheering him on.
One can recognize some key elements of the Neronian claque in its nascent revival. Imperial demands for adulation that abhor a silence that may leave the ruler exposed. The triumph of celebrity rule over stifling norms and propriety.
Indeed, the latter element is why the contemporary claque may win the approval of those who helped elect our current president. The Neronian claque did not simply demand that Romans put aside their critical judgement and submit to a day at the theatre one could not escape, but it did so for specific political aims.
[Richard Byrne/Crooked Timber]
(Image: Simone Giertz/Applause Machine)
Laura Gao was born in Wuhan before moving to the US at the age of 3. An experienced graphic designer who now works for Twitter, Gao has been — understandably — frustrated with the virulant racism that’s accompanied the worldwide outbreak of the novel coronavirus, and Trump’s continued insistence on blaming China for the virus. […]
The Dresden Panometer is a converted former gasometer that exhibits 360° panoramas created by the artist Yadegar Asisi. “The 15 m high visitor’s tower provides you with a 360-degree view from the tower of Dresden’s Town Hall and reveals the extent of the destruction in the panorama by Yadegar Asisi, almost 3,000 m² in size.” […]
Jack Nitzsche was a legend in his own time; an arranger, producer, songwriter, and Academy Award-winning composer. His disparate discography includes collaborations with Phil Spector, the iconic 1966 Batman theme, titles by The Rolling Stones, Doris Day, Ike & Tina Turner, The Monkees, Glen Campbell, and the Ronettes, as well as several film soundtracks, including […]
Paralysis by analysis. It’s the phenomenon that happens when you’re so stuck on thinking through all the ramifications of your actions that you don’t actually take action in the first place. That can happen with all this free time you’re spending stuck inside your house. With literally every home-bound option available to you, it’s easy […]
At this point, it’s every single person’s responsibility to reduce their own carbon footprint and transition to a more sustainable lifestyle. But if you consider the grim fact that the biggest culprit of greenhouse gas emissions from human activities in the U.S. is burning fossil fuels for electricity, things, like pivoting to metal straws and […]
Companies that don’t have their own in-house design teams (which means 99 percent of all companies these days) face lots of serious questions. Among those questions is how you keep up with all the design requirements of a 21st-century company without the personnel. It isn’t just a website or an annual product catalog anymore. It’s […]