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Fans of Game of Thrones and its source material, George R.R. Martin’s A Song of Ice and Fire novels, have long compared Donald Trump to the thin-skinned teenage tyrant King Joffrey. Jokes to this effect started before Trump ever ran for president, and they’ve continued into his troubled presidency. And now even Martin himself is backing them up.
“I think Joffrey is now the king in America,” Martin told Esquire this month. “And he’s grown up just as petulant and irrational as he was when he was 13 in the books.”
This is validation for a parallel that people began to notice during the first season of Game of Thrones. Jokes comparing Trump to the slappable Joffrey have been around on Twitter since at least 2011, when he was still just a reality TV star and birther conspiracy theorist.
Deluded about own power? Questions others' heritage? Makes his employees fight each other for entertainment?— Aaron Fullerton (@AaronFullerton) May 30, 2012
Trump has gone full Joffrey.
Trump is what happens if you let King Joffrey get old.— Gerry Duggan (@GerryDuggan) June 9, 2012
As Trump and Thrones both grew more popular, the joke was made thousands of more times on Twitter. Even Jimmy Fallon, whose career suffered after he was too soft on Trump, has pulled out the Joffrey analogy.
Since Trump’s election, the practice of framing the current political climate as a good-vs.-evil battle in a fantasy setting—Thrones and Harry Potter are two of the most popular–has become ubiquitous and annoying on social media. The trend has kept the Joffrey joke alive even longer than it might normally have lived, and Martin’s comments are sure to extend its life through the next season of Game of Thrones. Or the season finale of America.
Martin previously acknowledged the Trump-Joffrey connection just a few days before the 2016 election, in a comment on his LiveJournal. A reader had suggested Trump might be Joffrey’s uncle, Stannis Baratheon, the humorless would-be king who believes the throne is his destiny, but Martin dismissed that right away:
“Stannis had honor. Trump has none. He’s a Baratheon all right… he’s Joffrey, older but no wiser.”
It’s possible that, if you’re drawing comparisons to the most despicable character in a show full of despicable characters, you might be doing something wrong. Just some food for thought.
Jay Hathaway is a former senior writer who specialized in internet memes and weird online culture. He previously served as the Daily Dot’s news editor, was a staff writer at Gawker, and edited the classic websites Urlesque and Download Squad. His work has also appeared on nymag.com, suicidegirls.com, and the Morning News.