There’s no shame in second place, right? Second best? A gentleman’s second? Being first among all the “losers”?
A month after US President Donald Trump took office declaring a new “America first” era, people in Asia and elsewhere armed with social media accounts and jaded senses of humour are competing tongue-in-cheek to be from “almost” the best nation in the world – second only to the world’s sole superpower, and the super-sized ego now in charge of its executive branch.
“It’s going to be only America first,” Trump declared in his January 20 inauguration speech as he tacitly chastised his predecessor Barack Obama, who oversaw the country’s longest stretch of job growth in recent times, for careening the country through an “American carnage”.
The “America first” slogan has become fodder for political satirists around the world hungry for new material to deride the former New York businessman’s trademark bombastic speaking style. From India to Singapore to Indonesia, they have produced mock tourism commercials, with voiceovers imitating Trump, talking about why their country should be chosen as second only to the US.
The trend began half a world away in the Netherlands, after the late night show Zondag met Lubach (Sunday with Lubach) on January 23 – three days after the inauguration – put up a video with a Trump impersonator touting some of the country’s peculiarities, from windmills to its purportedly superior tax code. The voiceover featured the US leaders’ favoured phrases (“You’ll love it. It’s great”, “It’s huge!” “Total losers!”), and his style of using short sentences peppered with barbs aimed at his opponents. “We totally understand it’s going to be America first. But can we just say: the Netherlands second?” the voiceover says towards the end of the video.
Satirists in Germany, Portugal, and Switzerland soon put up their own versions, before their Asian counterparts entered the fray in February.
In India, one version of the spoof video not only took aim at Trump, but at the European countries that were “jockeying” to be second. “All those European countries welcoming you, they are not even real countries. India is the oldest culture in the world,” said the Trump voiceover.
And In Singapore, the multiracial country’s hybrid language “Singlish”, a mishmash of English as well as Malay, Chinese and Tamil, was featured. “We have the best and fastest language. Singlish. it has all the best words. One word has twelve meanings,” the Trump voiceover boasts, touting the tiny Southeast Asian city state as good enough to be second only to America.
Indonesia meanwhile said the country of 250 million across an archipelago of 17,000 islands was peerless in emulating the US. “Despite our diversity, we love America very much and more than willing (sic) to copy,” the voiceover said, boasting of the fact that the country was home to Ilham Anas, a leading Barack Obama impersonator.
China’s Hutong School, a language academy for foreigners, produced a version of the video highlighting the Great Wall of China. “It kept out all the Mongolians, total losers by the way. All the Mexicans too. Best part, we made the Japanese pay for it and they don’t even know,” the voiceover said, mocking Trump’s plan for a wall in the US border with Mexico.
The Philippines showed off Rodrigo Duterte, the country’s eccentric president widely seen as Asia’s answer to Trump. “The Philippines has the greatest president ever in Asia. Ever. And his name is Rodrigo Duterte. He was even named as the Trump of the East” by your people,” the video said.
The one that started it all: America First, the Netherlands Second.
America First, France Second
America First, Germany Second