Shirley Temple. Marilyn Monroe. Karl Marx. Edgar Allan Poe.
After Paul McCartney proposed having a group of recognizable faces on the band’s cover, each Beatle suggested celebrities to include. Not every choice made the list ― such as John Lennon’s desire to have Adolf Hitler and Jesus ― but many dozen people from varying backgrounds had their 2-D likenesses grace the space surrounding The Beatles.
Now, 50 years later, it’s difficult to imagine that so many different celebrities could seem representative for the culture of the day. In 2017, one person dominates the conversation.
If The Beatles continued to wear yellow, pink, blue and red, the contemporary backdrop surrounding them would surely be orange.
A recent report from Harvard Kennedy School’s Shorenstein Center on Media, Politics and Public Policy claimed that Donald Trump has dominated the 2017 news at an unprecedented level.
“President Trump dominated media coverage in the outlets and programs analyzed, with Trump being the topic of 41 percent of all news stories—three times the amount of coverage received by previous presidents,” said the report, which focused on major American newspapers, television channels and a few international outlets.
As New York Times reporter Farhad Manjoo wrote in February, after he tried to actively avoid consuming Trump news and ultimately failed, “I could find almost no Trump-free part of the press.”
Trump has even dominated the coverage in publications that traditionally focus on pop culture ― a sign the current president has fully consumed other celebrities whole. The publication Digiday ran a story in April with the headline, “’Politics is pop culture news’: In the Trump era, political news is everyone’s beat.”
Sure, Beyoncé or Drake or Jennifer Lawrence or LeBron James can still become the subjects of a huge news story. But these days, the next Trump mishap or scandal or tweet that everyone wants to talk about is mere hours away.
You’re not just living in Trump’s America because he’s president, but because all conversations now lead back to him.
As such, HuffPost illustrator Damon Dahlen reimagined the cover art from The Beatles best album to reflect our new reality. Trump is not just a famous person of the day’s news, he is the day’s news. Every single day.
Dahlen had incredible attention to detail and you can find Trump’s face in even the tiniest of bodies featured within the original. It’s truly a nightmare-inducing masterpiece.
Perhaps this is a bit askew from The Beatles’ original vision. The living Beatles, Paul and Ringo Starr, have each subtly expressed that they’re anti-Trump in their own ways, but their original album art was barely a political statement. Still, separating music from the omnipresence of Trump in this age is impossible. When listening even to music from the past, Trump is still on your brain, or about to be.
A recent Paris Review article about this phenomenon concluded by quoting the music critic Greil Marcus. A fan had asked on the critic’s website, “What are the key issues for music criticism in 2017?” Here’s Marcus’ response:
I can’t speak for anyone but myself. For me, what’s crucial is not to write about music, or anything else, without a sense of tyranny surrounding any attempt at communication, expression, or free speech of any sort.
“Sgt. Pepper’s” ends with the song “A Day in the Life,” which lyrically begins with Lennon singing, “I read the news today, oh boy.”
In 2017, this line would undoubtedly refer to Trump. Every single day.