Everybody loves to poke fun of Donald Trump and Vladimir Putin’s relationship. No, not because they are overhauling the world with their obsession for greed and power. But because we want to imagine them as gay lovers and for some reason, people think that is funny.
The latest late night host to join this club is Bill Maher. On Friday’s Real Time, he shared that shirtless pic of Putin sunbathing while on vacation. “Vladimir Putin has to admit he doctored this vacation photo — and not just to make your stomach look tighter, Vlad,” Maher said. “You airbrushed out whole parts of the original.”
Next he shared a photoshopped image of Trump very clearly performing oral sex on Putin.
This isn’t the first time a late-night host has made a joke along these lines about the pair. In May, Stephen Colbert came under fire for saying of Trump, “The only thing your mouth is good for is being Vladimir Putin’s c— holster.”
Vox author German Lopez argues that the joke only works by “demeaning gay people. The underlying implication here is that gay relationships are somehow extra funny — that Trump engaging in sexual acts with Putin is hilarious because it’s gay.”
Our own Matt Keeley argued the counterpoint. “We disagree — for us, the joke invokes a meta-level of humor. The humor isn’t that Trump and Putin are really gay. The joke, much like the constant riffs on Trump’s hand-size, is that such an accusation really bugs the target. Sure, it’s a classic bullying tactic — but Trump and Putin are both fundamentally bullies. It’s totally a good-for-the-goose situation.”
But we’re not quite sure about Maher, as we also need to evaluate the source of the joke. For some reason, I’m personally more OK with Colbert making this joke, as he has a proven track record as an ally. However, controversial Maher’s recent use of the n-word and inclusion of Milo Yiannnopoulos muddies his track record and doesn’t make a great case for his role as ally.
Gay or straight, the joke is tired. Hopefully comedians begin coming up with new material to make fun of these horrible, power hungry and corrupt leaders.