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A spokesperson for Melania Trump is calling for a boycott of Atlanta rapper T.I., who released a teaser video for his new album Dime Trap over the weekend slamming President Donald Trump and Kanye West.
The teaser, posted to Twitter on Oct. 12, features T.I., born Clifford Joseph Harris, in the Oval Office. The rapper sits behind the desk of the president as a Melania lookalike enters, clothed only in heels and a jacket clearly intended to mimic the controversial jacket Melania wore to visit migrant children in Texas back in June, which was adorned with the phrase “I really don’t care, do u?” Melania told ABC in an interview on Oct. 12 that the jacket was worn to troll reporters.
The minute-long teaser for T.I.’s new album shows the woman shedding the infamous jacket before engaging in a racy dance before the two exit the Oval Office to engage in some quick vandalism. Along with the video, T.I. tweeted simply “Dear 45, I ain’t Kanye.”
Melania’s communications director, Stephanie Grisham, asked people to boycott T.I. in a tweet, which read “How is this acceptable? #disgusting #boycottT.I. @Tip.”
T.I. expressed anger and disgust at West’s Oct. 11 meeting with President Trump in an Instagram post. “This is the most repulsive, disgraceful, embarrassing act of desperation & auctioning off of one’s soul to gain power I’ve ever seen,” he wrote. “At one time it was a pleasure to work alongside you… now, I’m ashamed to have ever been associated with you.”
Responses to T.I.’s teaser video were mixed. Though there were plenty of people who felt the rapper’s decisions in making the teaser were his own artistic choice, others felt that his use of a lookalike was taking it too far.
On the one hand, strong marketing.— The #1 Kanye podcast, Watching the Throne (@KanyePodcast) October 13, 2018
On the other hand, doesn’t seem like a great follow up to your speech yesterday about how Kanye was only trying to help himself and sold his soul.
This vid is a pretty big public political statement from you, and it’s just to sell your album.
Some people, like Twitter user @jpoe1979, questioned whether those scandalized by the teaser were similarly offended by any of the president’s less-than-savory comments and actions. “To all the people that are mad about this,” they tweeted, “did you feel the same way when the Access Hollywood tape came????”
To all the people that are mad about this, did you feel the same way when the Access Hollywood tape came???? IJS— Jerold Poe KMD Center (@jpoe1979) October 15, 2018
Other users found the video distasteful. @MikeHarwell66 tweeted “This is VERY degrading to ALL women, especially since this isn’t Melania Trump’s body.” He called it “repulsive and a direct assault on those made in Christ’s image.”
This is VERY degrading to ALL women, especially since this isn’t Melania Trump’s body.— Michael Harwell (@MikeHarwell66) October 13, 2018
I’m sure you see this as art or some kind of moral cause, but it’s repulsive and a direct assault on those made in Christ’s image. #MeToo #MAGA
What is wrong with people! Sick! Stay strong Melania. God Bless you.— kim (@kim98587604) October 13, 2018
Can't say I'm a fan of this or it's something I would have done myself, but Stephanie, how do you reconcile your indignance with Melania being happy to question president Obama's birthplace and advocate for that racist conspiracy theory to delegitimize him?https://t.co/t1G6KFe1YZ— Old Rant Dump (@TrumpinTheShark) October 13, 2018
The first lady retweeted the statement by her spokesperson but did not comment on the video herself. The president has not yet commented on the video. Until then, we will have to see the conversation on expression, free speech, and propriety unfold between regular Americans on Twitter.
Nahila Bonfiglio reports on geek culture and gaming. Her work has also appeared on KUT's Texas Standard (Austin), KPAC-FM (San Antonio), and the Daily Texan.