Mike Diva is, per his Facebook page, a “MAKER OF VIDEOS/MUSIC/MEMES/DREAMS” and he has bequeathed the pre-apocalyptic world its eighth wonder, a dizzying, sorbet-hued phantasmagoria that gestures toward the coming end times. It is called “Japanese Donald Trump Commercial” and it features, in no particular order, Donald Trump’s head atop the befurred blue body of a Seussian brontosaurus; Donald Trump’s eye winking out sparkles from within a Barbie-pink picture frame; and Donald Trump’s body encased in a Transformer suit as Donald Trump’s hands raise a massive, amethyst, barbed-wire-laced wall and Donald Trump’s feet propel Donald Trump from the earth’s surface into space, where Donald Trump proceeds to immolate Donald Trump’s home planet in rivers of blue and purple fire.
There is also a viewer-surrogate, a lovelorn Japanese waif whose fingernail traces the pale shell of Donald Trump’s ear before an announcement on TV—Donald Trump has been elected world president!—launches her into a fevered, euphoric Adventure Time dimension that is actually a totalitarian hellscape. There are cherry trees festooned with wagging Donald Trump blossoms. A cavernous super-villain Donald Trump headquarters. There are clouds and rainbows and tanks and missiles and swastikas and hearts and skulls, all to the epileptic throb of a mesmerizing, synth-drenched soundtrack.
We could not resist getting Diva, whose real name is Mike Dahlquist, on the phone.
Katy Waldman: You’ve tweeted that all you want to do is “make stuff that is pretty/funny/terrifying at the same time.” How would you break down the percentages in this video?
Mike Dahlquist: Honestly, I tried to make it as even as possible with those three things: funny, terrifying, pretty. That’s what I’m going for with all my work. Trump, of course, is already terrifying. Seeing his face everywhere has been something we’ve all have to deal with. So I wanted to make the omnipresence of his face really overwhelming, but also weirdly visually pleasing. I wanted to confuse people.
It worked! How do you feel about the Trump supporters who’ve assumed it’s positive propaganda?
Dahlquist: I think that’s hilarious. Getting those reactions, messing with Trump supporters and creating controversy, is half the reason I made this. It’s fun to watch the comment section, fun to see the crazy theories people have hatched to justify why Trump is surrounded by swastikas. They’ll say, “Oh, the swastika was originally created in Japan as a symbol of peace.”
Are you a political person?
Dahlquist: Not hugely, no. But I’ve seen so many pro-Trump videos and I wanted to try a different approach. The idea was to seem obnoxiously pro-Trump, but in a style that directly conflicts with anything he or his supporters would want to be associated with. And it was important to me that the production quality be good, that the video look as legit and beautiful as possible. I wanted people to ask: Why would a Japanese ad agency make this?
Can you name some of your influences?
Dahlquist: For this video, I was drawing primarily on Japanese commercials in general. I love them so much. They’re wildly creative and all over the place; they don’t adhere to the normal guidelines we have and expect. I’ve always wanted to do something in that style, but I didn’t find the right outlet for it until I realized how interesting it would be to juxtapose Trump’s machismo vibe with bright, poppy, Japanese aesthetics. My hope is that the contrast will make people laugh—and disturb them, too.
How long did it take you to make the video?
Dahlquist: All told, about a month and a half. I’m really lucky my friends are talented and willing to work for free, because of course we had zero budget. The actress was a friend of mine, perfect for the part—her hair was already like that and everything.
What’s your favorite part of the video?
Dahlquist: Definitely the robot. It came out exactly how I pictured it in my head.