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)
Italian artist Umberto Romano painted the mural above in 1937 in the original Springfield, Massachusetts post office, now the Commonwealth of Massachusetts State Office Building. Titled “Mr. Pynchon and the Settling of Springfield,” it’s actually the first in a series of murals telling the story of Springfield’s history from 1636 to 1936. More details at […]
A 15th-century cesspit found under Somerset House in London has been lovingly recreated as a 3D model that you can explore in your web browser. [via Londonist] Archaeologists from MOLA also uncovered a number of interesting objects from the pit: “These include a rare 14th century ‘Penn’ floor tile – a decorating material of choice […]
Royalty Now paints over classical portraits and statues to depict famous leaders as they might appear in the modernized flesh. Above, Julius Caesar. Below, Caligula.
The dreaded tax season is nearly upon us, and that means it’s time to start the process of gathering all of the expenses that will give you the largest deduction possible. The Quickbooks Pro Desktop Certification Bonus Bundle will help take the headaches out of this miserable processes by teaching you how to use one […]
You don’t need to be a climate scientist in order to know that the Earth is in serious trouble, but the good news is that you also don’t need to necessarily make any drastic changes to your lifestyle in order to do your part to help. This nOcean Wearable Reusable Silicone Straw will help you […]
When it comes to conquering that resolution list and hitting all of your goals in 2020, nothing is more important than getting a great night’s sleep every night so you can wake up feeling refreshed and extra productive. The CarbonIce: 7-in-1 Bacteria Protection & Cooling Pillow will help you do just that, and right now […]