If you haven’t seen this photo yet, here you go. It depicts a mural that appeared in Bristol this weekend, in which the stomping anti-Brussels brigadier Boris Johnson snogs America’s orange-faced Donald Trump. The presidential wannabe grabs Boris at the back of the head in one of those passionate he-really-wants-me moments.
The point of the mural is to deter voters from opting to follow Boris out of the EU in our referendum on June 23rd. The mural says: you probably think Trump is a bit of a fart, so if you do, don’t give your support to Boris and the Vote Leave campaign because it will only strengthen the connection between these two. This connection is embodied in that lip-sucking snog we see so beautifully brought to life in luscious pinks and oranges.
But I wonder whether the mural is relying on some people’s distaste at seeing two men kissing, especially two older men kissing? It is without doubt that some people really do not like to see two men kissing. Aren’t they likely to have their distaste activated by this mural? If they do, then the mural works in trying to persuade them that a vote to leave the EU is a bad idea. And some people may not be anti-gay at all, but seeing two men kissing is a shock to them because it is rare. It makes them stand up and pay attention. I know it’s only satire—and of course I wouldn’t want to staunch it—but I just think it’s worth stopping and thinking about this for a second.
Of course, it could simply be that people don’t like to see politicians kissing. They know how slimy they are—especially Trump and BoJo—and that never makes for a good kiss. Satirists often depict two politicians kissing. Here’s former Soviet leader Leonid Brezhnev doing the tongue tango with former East German leader Erich Honecker.
Here’s Barack Obama sucking the lefty love out of Hugo Chavez.
And here’s Trump again, this time going for Vladimir Putin (gorgeous sports jackets, boys).
The snog is a convention of political art. Fair enough. But in the intention of the Boris/Donald mashup, I just wonder whether there are some votes won off the back of unease at two men going at it.