Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.
Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.

John Oliver’s farewell to Trump makes space for 30 seconds of uncut joy

John Oliver
John Oliver
Screenshot: Last Week Tonight

“Yeah. That definitely happened.”

John Oliver wasn’t betraying his solemn duty of showing the painfully complex and often intractable intricacies of the myriad problems the world faces. As the Last Week Tonight host put it ruefully after Sunday’s half-hour analysis of the current state of things, “For some reason, this is the life I’ve chosen.” But, as Oliver reminded everyone in his explosively funny and cathartic recap of the aforementioned fact that Donald-fucking-Trump lost his bid for re-election, it’s important not to rush right to picking apart our joy.

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Yes, the Trump family and its remaining hangers-on are currently scuttling around to swing states filing contradictory, self-defeating lawsuits to either stop or start vote counts, depending on which reality they want us to live in. (Oliver shows reassuringly sassy judges tossing out the efforts from Trump’s chosen legal minds from firms like “Hangover, Hangover, Divorce, and Meat-Sweats.”) And, sure, there’s the Democratic Party’s historical tendency to fuck up every good thing that happens to it. And, okay, there are still some 70 million people in this country who, as Oliver summed it up, either wholeheartedly agree with Donald Trump’s virulent bigotry and fascist tendencies, or want to stick it to the libs so badly that they gloss over the rape accusations, babies in cages, and overt attempts to turn American democracy into just another ill-run, (allegedly) mobbed-up Trump cash-grab. And, showing footage of white Trump supporters storming vote counters in a majority Black city to stop Black votes from being counted, and Trump-loving TruckNutz enthusiasts attempting to run a Biden/Harris campaign bus off the road, Oliver said that, should viewers be confused by what those things mean, “It’s because you’re seeing them in color.”

So, yeah, there’s all that. But, as Oliver stated emphatically, we all need to just sit back and relish this. Donald Trump is a one-term president. (In fact the only sitting president to win the shame trifecta of being impeached, defeated, and to lose the popular vote—twice.) His surrogates and toadies in the Republican Party are making asses of themselves while showing their whole asses as to just how far down they’re willing to sink. Plus, Trump’s petulance aside, his own ass is not just getting kicked out by the highest voter turnout in U.S. history, but also, attendant Trump administration ass-boils like Stephen Miller, Steve Mnuchin, Betsy DeVos, and—as Oliver put it gleefully— “fucking Jared” will also no longer be able to “directly impact every American’s life.” “Trump lost this election, he lost,” Oliver stressed, urging others to keep that incontrovertible fact close to hand in the no-doubt tumultuous (and dangerous) last weeks of Trump’s term.

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He even—after the usual caveats about there being a long road ahead and a lot of damage to undo, etc.—set an onscreen countdown clock of 30 seconds, put up some jubilant footage of the spontaneous celebrations around the world at the news of Trump’s humiliation, and speed-cited some awesome facts about octopuses. Yes, there are other concrete, irrefutably great things that happened on Election Day (or week). Like how perpetually oppressed communities (Latinos, Indigenous people, Black people) organized their collective ass off to protect both their communities and save white American asses from themselves. Or the election of multiple worthy candidates like Ritchie Torres and Mondaire Jones (the first openly gay Black members of congress), Cori Bush (Missouri’s first Black congresswoman and Black Lives Matter activist), and Sarah McBride (the country’s first openly trans state senator). And don’t get Oliver started on the Black women like Stacey Abrams who’ve mobilized a voter registration and participation machine that will transform American politics forever. Still, as Oliver noted in his own 30 seconds of unbridled, relieved happiness, there was an actual study (that someone approved) that showed how the usually solitary and watchful octopus will, under the influence of ecstasy, become gregarious and social. Octopuses are awesome. Be like an octopus (but with a mask on).

Contributor, The A.V. Club. Danny Peary's Cult Movies books are mostly to blame.

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