Fake Melania: People have already built a storey about Melania Trump, so the idea of her having a body double appeals to them.
Is it that far-fetched to believe that Fake Melania Trump, the first lady of the United States, has a body double who takes her place at official Trump administration events?
In a world where white supremacists use a cartoon frog to help convey their hateful beliefs, the president is obsessed with TV ratings and feuding with the NFL, and perceived threats of international nuclear warfare happen on Twitter.
Is it that far-fetched to believe that the first lady of the United States, Melania Trump, has
Certain internet sects argue that this is not the case.
On Wednesday, President Donald Trump spoke to media at a US Secret Service training facility with his wife Melania (“Melania” to truthers) by his side. A man named Joe Vargas noticed the TV spot and tweeted that the “Melania Trump” who appeared at the event was not the real first lady, but a lookalike:
Vargas’ tweets sparked outrage across the internet.
Many conspiracy theorists and people with a deep distrust of the government — think people who believe the Earth is flat or that molten jet fuel isn’t hot enough to melt steel beams — were immediately convinced that a sunglasses-wearing changeling was masquerading as the first lady of the United States. Vargas’ first tweet received almost 60,000 retweets.
Meanwhile, on the less serious and sarcastic end of the spectrum, there were a plethora of jokes and chuckles as many discounted the concept that Fake Melania Trump had a body double but still found a way to incorporate “Melania” into their own jokes and fanfiction.
The ensuing infatuation with Melania versus “Melania” provided a rare opportunity for utter nonsense to intersect with weird truth, culminating in a fascinating internet excursion.
However, it added yet another chapter to the long-running narrative about the first lady of the United States, which centred around her role as an unwilling participant in her marriage and the present administration. It’s a theory that could reveal more about our attitudes toward Melania Trump than anything she’s ever done.
Relax, it’s Fake Melania’s Trump (most likely).
Vargas’ “Melania” conspiracy hypothesis gained popularity almost immediately, and it’s not hard to see why. For starters, it provided perfect material for our internet culture, which is always ready to turn everything into a joke.
You don’t have to believe in “Melania” to enjoy and laugh at the hypothesis. That, however, does not explain the sincere “Melania” truthers.
Vargas’ initial tweet satisfies this requirement.
Vargas refers to the Trump administration as “them,” an entity attempting to deceive the media, a.k.a. “them,” and, by implication, the American people, a.k.a. “us,” by deception.
There has always been a triangle link between the government, the media, and what both are telling the public: Conspiracy theorists perceive the mainstream media as an untrustworthy megaphone, disseminating whatever information various government leaders — regardless of political party — wish to disseminate while frequently hiding the truth.
When you consider many Americans’ present suspicion of the media, as well as the growing idea that media sources are promoting “fake news,” it’s no surprise that conspiracy theorists and outlets that claim to be truth-tellers have grown in prominence.
Vargas’ political opinions are complicated, and we don’t know what they are. But, based on his “Fake Melania” tweets alone, he appears to be less anti-Trump or anti-GOP than persuaded that the government is lying.
His “Melania” hypothesis gained so much traction online that the White House sent a statement to CNN denying the Melania impostor claim.
“Once again, we find ourselves absorbed by a silly non-story when we might be discussing the work the first lady is doing on behalf of children, especially the opioid problem that is consuming our country,” East Wing communications director Stephanie Grisham told the network.
But, as with any excellent conspiracy theory, no public denial of its believability can ever be sufficient.
Melania Trump’s ongoing storyline as first lady is the focus of the “Melania” storey.
The idea of a person imitating the first lady in order to deceive the American people is based on the assumption that the real first lady is off doing something else and abdicating her responsibilities.
This is consistent with the narrative that is frequently given to Melania Trump, particularly by left-leaning critics.
Since Donald Trump’s election, many have assumed that Melania Trump, at best, never wanted to be first lady and, at worst, openly despises her husband.
In some ways, it’s a different kind of conspiracy theory, one that someone could believe while still dismissing Melania Trump’s use of a body double.
HuffPost claimed earlier this year that Melania Trump despises holding her husband’s hand.
In May, a CNN opinion piece asked, “What signal is Melania sending?” after television cameras caught what appeared to be Melania slapping away the president’s hand in Rome.
Etiquette experts were questioned by The Independent about the couple’s body language and whether Donald Trump’s “walking distance” from Melania was “disrespectful.”
There are also a number of YouTube postings depicting what some perceive to be a strained relationship or implying that the Trumps’ marriage is in jeopardy.
All of this contributes to a form of benevolent sexism directed at women in the Trump administration. The current narrative surrounding many of the women in the administration, including Trump’s daughter Ivanka Trump and his campaign communications guru-turned-counselor to the president Kellyanne Conway.
Suggests that they should be held accountable for the president’s decisions in spheres that those women have publicly discussed (e.g., Conway’s television defences of the president or Ivanka being held accountable for the president’s policies reg.
That wasn’t always the case, though.
Women in Trump’s administration were frequently seen as voices of reason who he never listened to around the time of the election and for a few months afterward. Many a Saturday Night Live comedy depicted Kellyanne Conway, Ivanka Trump, and Melania Trump as unwitting spectators who were dragged into something they didn’t want to be a part of.
While Ivanka Trump and Kellyanne Conway’s “reluctant bystander” label has faded as Trump’s administration progresses, Melania Trump’s has remained.
The “Melania” theory is a natural extension of that: it portrays Melania as either unwilling to serve in the administration or as someone who despises her husband so much that she’s hired a body double to act as the first lady while she ostensibly does whatever else she’d rather do than represent the country.
If Donald Trump were to leave office today, a major part of Melania Trump’s legacy as first lady would be determined by how many people thought she didn’t want the position.
That leaves us wondering how to interpret a conspiracy theory like “Melania,” which portrays Melania Trump as America’s first damsel in distress. “Melania” is another cause for some people to never believe whatever the government says or does.
Others see Fake Melania Trump’s imagined pain as a testament to whatever they think of the president. And, while many people could do more to respect Melania’s agency and autonomy, the idea of Melania’s body double rebellion appears to be the favoured way, even if it tells a lot more about us than it does about Melania.