Donald Trump has hosted Saturday Night Live twice and had his own reality series. He’s been impersonated by comics countless times, his hair and his facial expressions picked apart more thoroughly than his political views. One thing is certain — Donald Trump knows all about what it means to be on stage himself, and to see himself on stage through the eyes of others.
Three Fiske Elementary School boys whose parents say the Wellesley kids just wanted to dance and be a little silly at the school’s PTO-sponsored annual talent show weren’t exactly parsing the nuances of satire when they came up with their dancing Donald Trump bobblehead idea. They just figured that they got a lot of laughs when they put together a dance act last year, so why not dance this year too, and add a little something. Hey, this year let’s dance AND look like Donald Trump, yeah that’s the ticket to talent show glory, they figured.
So they talked their parents into springing for some Donald Trump masks, vetted their act through a group of teachers, as all potential performers were required to do, and set about practicing their moves in preparation for the big show. I’ve watched the Youtube videos. Eleven-year olds Christian Mattaliano and twins Marc and David Maggiacomo ran an act that was about as tightly-choreographed as you might expect from fifth graders. There’s no doubt they had the moves. Can’t say the humor qualified as anything as deep as satire or that the dance fell into the category of interpretive, however. Here’s what I got out of it: goofy boys got up on stage and had a whole lot of fun.
But that’s not how everybody in the audience saw it. It seems that one parent (perhaps still bitter from John Kasich’s defeat of Trump at the primary polls in Wellesley in March) found the dance offensive and let the principal know it. The end result was that the boys got what their parents are calling a lesson in censorship (including that when things get censored these days, they tend to go viral online — video views went from 500 to 5,000 in less than 24 hours). The edict handed down by first-year principal Rachel McGregor and supported by Superintendent David Lussier said that although they were welcome to perform their 2-minute dance in the evening show, they would not be permitted to don their Donald Trump masks. The kids smartly passed on that second chance.
Superintendent Lussier, who recently threw Wellesley elementary schools into a tizzy by retweeting a Happy Easter photo of the Obamas from his @WellesleySupt account, is quoted on bostonglobe.com saying, “I think it’s so important for us to be seen as non-partisan in a highly charged election environment. We wanted to make sure that nothing we are doing would be perceived as biased in some way. You’re not seeing Democratic candidates certainly.”
A separate Trump-Rubio dance-off skit, also banned from the second showing, was morphed into a send-up of late-night talk show hosts Jimmy Fallon and Jimmy Kimmel.
Fiske parent Deb Van der Veen was incredulous. “Donald Trump would have thought it was a hoot,” she said. As parents, “We’re trying to support the boys. They’re not political. It was a dance. The principal was put in a difficult position, but I think as grown-ups maybe we should loosen up and dance ourselves once in a while.”
Christine Norcross, who posted the videos on Youtube, commented “My son was censored for this video. they were having fun – I am just proud of him for know who the presidential candidates (democrat and republicans) are.”
Or as one commenter posted on Facebook, “Have we learned nothing from Footloose?”