Donald Trump Jr, the idiot son of the idiot president, has joined the ranks of people whom you can pay to make a recorded message for you.
The former president’s eldest son, listed on the site under the category of “activist”, is charging fans $500 a video with an undisclosed amount of the proceeds being donated to his chosen charity.
He follows a number of other “Maga celebrities” to join the platform, including his partner Kimberly Guilfoyle ($200 a video), convicted felon and former campaign adviser Roger Stone ($100 a video) and far-right political commentator and former presidential adviser Sebastian Gorka ($99 a video).
Let me guess. The ‘undisclosed amount’ that goes to charity would be $0, because that is how the Trumps roll, sticking like glue to any cash that comes anywhere close to their grubby fingers. It beats me why anyone would pay for such a thing but clearly there are people for whom being even marginally connected to a celebrity, even a C-list one like Don Jr., by having them say your name even if one has to pay for it, is worth it
So what can one get for one’s money?
A short examination of Trump’s uploaded videos indicated an array of messages, from birthday congratulations, to engagement celebrations. In one birthday message, he taunts a recipient named Peter for being “a lib”.
“Fortunately for you at least you have a family that has the sense to not be a lib and that they’re full of Trump supporters. So that’s pretty awesome,” he says, adding: “I hope your family rides you like Seabiscuit.”
But selling oneself this way also carries with the risk that one can get pranked, as in these ones where some Trump allies did not realize that they were giving a shout out to Satan.
MAGA-heads giving Iblis a shoutout for supporting Trump.
— Ali-Asghar (@AbediAA) October 28, 2020
The selling of messages is the bargain basement equivalent of bigger-name celebrities who charge a lot to attend events with you. Billionaire Richard Lugner, for example, pays as much as $150,000 to famous women to go to parties with him.
There was something that vaguely bothered me about this practice by Lugner and other wealthy people to pay to get celebrities to hang out with them and in a post in 2011, I managed to put my finger on it.
I finally figured out what was bothering me about this commercial aspect. While it is partly the fact that it is blurring the difference between social interactions (which are supposed to be free of financial considerations) and commercial interactions (for which fees are charged), what really bothers me is not that these people are doing anything wrong but that we do not extend the social acceptance of paying for services to a wider range of people and services.
In particular, we treat sex workers to a different standard. For example, sex workers are also paid for sharing with others the pleasure of their company and providing services. Why are they prosecuted and treated like criminals in so many countries, when the rest of us are able to sell our services and even be admired for doing so? When Richard Lugner gets to spend some time with a famous woman by paying for her presence, it is considered acceptable, if a little tacky. But if the agreement also involves having sex as part of the deal, the entire transaction is viewed with disdain and can become illegal and the people involved subject to harsh criminal penalties.
It is this double standard that drives sex workers into the underground economy and creates conditions in which they can be exploited and abused because they are operating outside the law and thus cannot easily call upon society to protect them.
We all sell (or, more accurately, rent) some part of our bodies to earn a living. In my case as a physicist and teacher, it was primarily my brain that was rented out and that was seen as respectable, even admirable. For some people, like those whose work primarily involves manual labor, it is the muscular part of their bodies. But when someone rents out those parts of their bodies that are involved in sex, suddenly all manner of moral opprobrium is heaped on them.
So Donald Trump Jr. and other MAGA-heads can rent their bodies to others to send out cheesy messages and will get no criticism from me as long as they extend that same courtesy to those who rent their bodies in other ways.