Trump's MAGA Idiots Are Trying to Take Baby Yoda. Sure, Go For It.

Matt Miller
Photo credit: Screenshot

From Esquire

Late last year, the whole internet fell in love with a little green alien we call Baby Yoda, who is neither a baby, nor the character Yoda. Baby Yoda has become a pop culture phenomenon, saturating the zeitgeist beyond even the far reaches of Star Wars fandom. Even people who have never watched a Star War are likely familiar with the image of Baby Yoda – those big eyes, the floppy ears, the old man wrinkles, and itty bitty robes.

But, like any symbol whose meaning is vague and undefined, Baby Yoda can easily be manipulated and exploited. In recent weeks – because they're months late to the conversation – MAGA bros have taken an interest in the popularity of Baby Yoda. And they're trying to turn him into pro-Trump, far-right iconography. A week ago, Baby Trump – meaning his dolt son Don Jr – shared a poorly photoshopped meme of daddy's face on Baby Yoda's body with the caption "MAGALORIAN."

Lacking in creativity as it was, the meme seems to have sparked a movement among MAGA bros to turn Baby Yoda to the Dark Side. Since then, pro-Trump Baby Yodas have been popping up more frequently, most recently at the Milwaukee rally, where ABC News reporter Will Steakin found MAGA merchants selling bootleg Baby Yoda swag.

A number of people chimed in, responding to Steakin's tweet showing other Baby Yoda MAGA merch they've seen. Like this one:

You can also, should you feel the need, buy a truly ugly T-Shirt showing Donald Trump holding Baby Yoda for $30.

Meanwhile, on Twitter, some on the left are outraged that MAGA bros would try to co-opt innocent, good Baby Yoda into something that stands for hate and stupidity.

But I can't help but laugh. Over the years, while covering the intersection of the alt-right movement and popular culture, I've watched as these MAGA bros have desperately attempted to include themselves in the larger conversation around entertainment. Something like Star Wars, from its very beginning, is at its core about the evils of a fascist empire that was inspired by Nazi Germany. By design, the heroes of Star Wars are against the xenophobic nature of Trump supporters.

The far-right has done this with Taylor Swift, with The Matrix, with SNL, with so much more. They try to co-opt these pop culture symbols as their own because they want to be included in and be accepted by the movies, TV, and music that's not being created for them. Though these creators have unanimously rejected the ideology of the far-right, these MAGA bros think by swarming it and using sheer numbers they can make it their own. It's sad, really. And they're doing it with Baby Yoda now – a situation that reminds me of a conversation I had with Pepe the Frog creator Matt Furie back in 2016 just before he voted for Hillary Clinton in the 2016 election. As he told me of the innocent, apolitical, popular meme that he'd created that turned into an alt-right symbol:

The people who are driving this train are these anonymous Internet trolls who don't stand for anything except for nihilism and getting a rise out of whatever racist or sexist or disgusting thing they can do. It's just an idiotic joke. They kind of seem like this group that tried to intellectualise white power, and they've appropriated Pepe for that. It sucks, but I can't control it more than anyone can control frogs on the Internet.

And this is important to keep in mind. We know that Baby Yoda is just a Star Wars character that is neither a baby nor Yoda, and we can't control what the far-right does with him. There's something else he told me, when I asked him about the Anti-Defamation League has listed Pepe as a hate symbol, that is good to keep in mind:

It's not going to do anything other than give this fringe racist group more attention than they need. I don't think you can control these manifestations of a cartoon frog online. The whole thing just seems like a cosmic joke from my perspective. I'm kind of just watching it all unravel.

There's no point in getting worked up over it, because these people are just putting Baby Yoda on t-shirts to own the Libs. Outrage is exactly what they want. And getting mad about a fictional baby alien being put on a t-shirt we don't agree with is rather ridiculous. More importantly it's playing directly into their narrative. Take this response to Steakin's tweet: "if it triggers liberals, I need one MAGA."

To be fair, Democrats have been guilty of using Baby Yoda for political purposes, too. And, if I'm being honest, wearing a politically adjacent Baby Yoda shirt is not cool, no matter who you are. So, please, let the MAGA bros do what they want with Baby Yoda. It's not going to change the show or Star Wars or anything we hold dear. Don't let them win by getting mad. Just let them go out in public wearing a shirt that at once identifies them as a Star Wars and Donald Trump fan and incorrectly uses the Yoda manner of speaking for a character that doesn't even have a voice.

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