That’s right—go ahead and do it. Type in the word “wankpuffin” on Google and hit enter. There he is, the 45th president of the United States, Donald J. Trump, programmatically and algorithmically and contextually connected, via the super-powered information-gathering engines of one of the world’s biggest, most powerful companies, to the word “wankpuffin.”
The term was originally brought to prominence when the composer Nick Harvey realized his mother had it as her username for her ISP. Last Christmas, this inspired the usual round of hashtag jokes, few funnier than Harvey’s original:
Somehow, in the intervening months, a shadow campaign was waged to game Google’s algorithms so as to connect the term with the outside-shot reality star who’s bankrupted American culture the way he has everything else he’s ever touched. (If you know anything about that shadow campaign, please, get in touch.) Part of what makes the joke land is the way Google serves up Trump’s photograph and linked Wikipedia page, as if the user had actually just googled his name.
The term “wankpuffin” isn’t especially funny compared to the many, many things that one might call President-elect Trump. Comedians and online writers have engaged in a years-long competition for the best ways to describe him, from Spy magazine’s classic “short-fingered vulgarian” through the endless gauntlet of insulting descriptors used by writers at Gawker Media sites. And if you google “xenophobic neofascist,” “racist con artist,” or just “rapist”—all terms that could be used to describe our president-elect—his name will appear, but his face will not.
But his face does appear if you google “wankpuffin,” and that’s pretty good. It is nowhere near the “google problem” held by Senator Rick Santorum—which, to remind you, was when the advice columnist Dan Savage successfully lobbied to make the homophobic senator’s name a synonym for “the frothy mix of lube and fecal matter that is sometimes the byproduct of anal sex.” But “wankpuffin” is a start. Great job, internet.
[Note: Gawker, now Gizmodo Media Group, like The A.V. Club, is owned by Univision Communications.]