Rocket Man?

[ Posted Tuesday, September 19th, 2017 – 17:18 UTC ]

I have to admit I don't have time today to write a proper column with lots of deep thought behind it, so instead I'm going to let President Trump's first United Nations speech percolate a bit before soberly commenting upon it. But rather than running just a "Program Note: No Column Today," I thought it'd be amusing to briefly comment on the newest Trumpism, one he used in his speech today: Trump's new "Rocket Man" nickname for North Korea's Kim Jong Un.

Now, figuring out what goes on in the mind of Trump is an exercise best left to the professionals, so I won't even try to fathom why he latched onto this particular label. But he sure does seem to like it, using it in a tweet this weekend and then announcing it to the whole word at the U.N.

The problem with Trump's use of Rocket Man is that it isn't particularly insulting. It actually sounds pretty cool, in a retro 1950s-sci-fi kind of way. Elton John and Bernie Taupin didn't write the song until 1972, and Taupin admitted being influenced by a 1970 song of the same name by the band Pearls Before Swine. But both songs were inspired by a short story by Ray Bradbury ("The Rocket Man," from the book The Illustrated Man), which is about as retro 1950s-sci-fi as you can get.

The only other notable pop culture reference is more recent, an episode of The Big Bang Theory where Howard tries to manipulate his fellow astronauts into giving him the nickname "Rocket Man" (because he thought it'd be cool). This backfires spectacularly, and he winds up with the nickname "Froot Loops" instead.

So you have to wonder whether Kim Jong Un, a reported lover of Western pop culture himself, would be all that offended by the name, or whether he'd think to himself what a cool nickname Trump picked out for him. But then figuring out what goes on in Kim Jong Un's mind is an even more dicey proposition, so we'll all have to wait and see what his reaction will be.

But Trump's newest nickname for a world leader did get me thinking about who else on the world stage needs a new Trumpian nickname, and what they could be. Even just limiting it to Elton John songs would allow for a large number of possibilities. Who today would be the "Pinball Wizard"? Or "Tiny Dancer," or even "Honky Cat"? The most obvious would be if Trump decided to comment on Hillary Clinton's book tour with a "The Bitch Is Back" tweet, but perhaps he'd save it to use after Angela Merkel gets re-elected? No love lost there, after all.

While looking up his song titles (in order to write that previous paragraph), I came across two bits of Elton John trivia worth mentioning. Elton John's best-selling single of all time was due to him rewriting an older song for someone on the world stage. Originally written about the tragic death of Marilyn Monroe, "Candle In The Wind" was re-released in 1997 after the death of Princess Diana, with updated lyrics. According to Wikipedia, this is now the second-best-selling single of all time, behind Bing Crosby's "White Christmas." That's a pretty powerful tribute.

But the song title that jumped out at me was "Merry Christmas Maggie Thatcher," which I had never even heard of before. Thatcher's death spurred two other bits of musical trivia, since the hashtag #nowthatchersdead was parsed differently by fans of Cher ("Now that Cher's dead?"). Her death also caused the Wizard Of Oz song "Ding Dong The Witch Is Dead" to hit the top 10 chart in Britain as well, leading to much angst about whether it should be played on the weekly BBC "Official Chart Show" broadcast or not (they wound up playing clips of it, but not the full song, even though it had reached the number two spot on the week's charts).

But "Ding Dong The Witch Is Dead" is nowhere near as scathing as the song Elton John sang. Here are two verses from this cheerful holiday carol:

They've come to raid your stockings
And to steal your Christmas pud
But don't be too downhearted
It's all for your own good
The economic infrastructure
Must be swept away
To make way for call centres
And lower rates of pay

And they've brought their fascist boot boys
And they've brought the boys in blue
And the whole Trade Union Congress
Will be at the party too
And they'll all hold hands together
All standing in a line
'Cause they're privatising Santa
This merry Christmas time

If that's not clear enough, here's the chorus:

So merry Christmas Maggie Thatcher
May God's love be with you
We all sing together in one breath
Merry Christmas Maggie Thatcher
We all celebrate today
'Cause it's one day closer to your death

No wonder "Ding Dong The Witch Is Dead" hit the charts when it actually happened. But my point is that Elton John is no stranger to using his music to comment on world leaders or those on the world stage.

But there's nothing that says that Trump nicknames should be limited to just Elton John songs, of course. So I throw it open to readers. What world leaders deserve a Trump nickname, and what should they be? What should Trump's nickname for Vladimir Putin be? Or Angela Merkel? The leaders of China, Canada, Britain, or France? Or how about that guy down in Australia? The possibilities are endless! So let's hear your suggestions for the next Trump world leader nickname. Trump surely won't stop at just Rocket Man, right?

-- Chris Weigant


Follow Chris on Twitter: @ChrisWeigant


10 Comments on “Rocket Man?”

  1. [1] 
    Elizabeth Miller wrote:

    The Bitch Is Back.


    Oh, my God ... sorry, I couldn't resist.



  2. [2] 
    Elizabeth Miller wrote:

    Oh, the bitch is back ... I love it!

  3. [3] 
    Elizabeth Miller wrote:

    I just meant that that was hilarious ... made me laugh out loud. Nothing personal.

    If Hillary had said to Donald on that debate stage, "Back off, you creep!" then I think she might have won the election.

  4. [4] 
    John From Censornati wrote:

    We're not into name-calling. That's Big Orange's thing.

  5. [5] 
    Elizabeth Miller wrote:


  6. [6] 
    TheStig wrote:

    Nowhereman? The lyrics fit Trump like a body suit.....shudder.....hope nobody reads this over breakfast.

  7. [7] 
    ListenWhenYouHear wrote:

    Otto Tittsling

  8. [8] 
    Kick wrote:

    What should Trump's nickname for Vladimir Putin be?

    Pimp Putin

  9. [9] 
    nypoet22 wrote:

    as a thatcher wanna-be, he could call england's pm 'maggie may'

  10. [10] 
    nypoet22 wrote:

    oh crap, he already has.

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