Remember after that contentious presidential debate, when a furious Joe Biden pushed Donald Trump against the wall—and then leaned in for a tender kiss? No, neither do I. And yet the world of fan fiction starring the two presidential candidates abounds with such scenes—and many that are much more graphic. One story involves Trump catching not COVID but Hanahaki Disease, a favorite among manga and anime fandoms in which unrequited love causes the afflicted to cough up flowers. Another features Trump being kidnapped by Pokémon’s Team Rocket, and it’s up to Biden to rescue him. Many are sexually explicit, and most come with notes from the authors stressing that the work is a joke and to please not take it seriously. “Please don’t kill me secret service,” one requests. “If you read this, you are immediately put on an FBI watchlist,” warns another.
Fan fiction about politicians is nothing new, whether it’s a best-selling mystery series about Biden and Barack Obama solving crimes or any of the countless stories about political rivals getting it on with each other and/or Shrek. But on the eve of Election Day 2020, I wanted to better understand the impulse to cast Biden and Trump as romantic leads, so I reached out to the author of “That one where Joe Biden is a French teacher and Donald Trump thinks they’re rivals,” a slow-burn romance about the two men that clocks in at more than 16,500 words.
That author turned out to be a 17-year-old from Arizona, and he was kind enough to explain. This interview has been edited and condensed for clarity.
What was the inspiration for this story? And how long did it take to write it?
I believe I wrote it over a period of three to four days. I was watching all the debates with my best friend, and at one point Biden said he was a professor at the University of Pennsylvania. Me and my friend were joking about it, and we were like, “Oh, that sounds like a fan fiction or something. You know, you go to class, and there’s Professor Biden.” If I was going to write a fic where Biden was a professor, then how does Trump come into his life? How do they get together?
I liked the idea that they knew each other as children, but they were rivals. They were just going to become friends and slowly get to like each other more, but then I made it so that they’re stuck in a blizzard together. The “enemies to friends to lovers” trope is a trope that I enjoy.
16,000 is a lot of words to write in three days. How long have you been writing fan fiction?
This is actually my first one.
These are two politicians who, in the real world, have a very adversarial relationship. Why make them fall in love?
Partially just out of spite, and also because I thought it would be funnier that way. I can’t imagine if Trump or Biden ever heard about something like this, they’d be too pleased, especially Trump. If you look at the more conservative or Republican people, they’re not too big on queer rights. So, you take their favorite people, their idols, like Trump, and do that to them, and I can’t imagine they would enjoy it.
You mention at the intro to the fic that you wrote this for your best friend as a way to cope with the world. How does this help with that?
For me, I’m part of the queer community, and the current political climate is pretty scary. The outcome of this election could possibly mean my life is in real risk. And it means that for a lot of the people I know, depending on which demographic they belong to. It’s a very scary thing for me, and I follow it very closely, or as closely as I can, just because if I don’t know what’s going on, I am in danger. Or at least that’s how I see it.
If I’m looking into a policy Trump is saying he’s going to implement and it starts to scare me, then I can just think of the funny things that I had him doing in my fan fiction. It’s not as scary that he’s trying to repeal environmental protections, because remember the time he was at the beach and he was worried that his precious friends didn’t like him? It’s just a fun way to make it so that I can stay involved in what’s happening, without worrying myself too much.
How did you decide which other politicians you would put in the story? There’s a romantic subplot between Mike Pence and Barack Obama. And it’s not just politicians—Ben Shapiro’s in there.
A lot of the French class friends are people I follow very closely, like Bernie Sanders, Nancy Pelosi, AOC. But with Trump’s friends—Ben Shapiro and Ted Cruz and whatnot—those ones were a bit harder because I don’t follow Republicans as closely. I don’t really care about them as much, so I just tried to look up prominent Republicans that I could at least identify.
I liked the idea that the two main characters, their best friends got together, and then because their best friends were together, they were helping them get together. I thought it was a nice little subplot to have going on against the main plot. I know if Mike Pence ever heard about that, he would just lose it. He would hate that.
How close did you try to make your characters to the real Trump and Biden? One thing I noticed is that “Sleepy Joe,” which is a derogatory nickname the real Trump uses for Biden, becomes a term of endearment for when the two share a bed.
I wanted to take certain very noticeable phrases and personality traits—like you said Sleepy Joe, and the way Obama has a lot of uh’s in his sentences—I wanted to take stuff that would be easy to recognize and take it away from the political climate.
The epilogue to the fic is “And then they grow up, grow apart, become horrible men, and in 30 years, run for president and destroy America.”
I loved that part. That was like my favorite paragraph to write. It’s breaking the fourth wall. It’s acknowledging that these are real people who are having real impacts on the world. It’s no longer a silly, little, joke fan fiction.
You’re too young to vote in this election. But if you could, who would you vote for?
Biden. Not because I particularly enjoy him, but he’s the lesser of the two evils.