Illma Gore: ‘If anyone is going to be threatened by a small penis, it’s Trump’
Artist whose painting of nude Trump went viral gives her account of being the target of his campaign’s hate machine and being physically attacked in LA
For two months I have been under attack by Donald Trump and his supporters for painting the presumptive Republican nominee with a small penis. I’ve received death threats, rape threats and anonymous phone calls demanding I remove the image from my social media accounts or risk going to court.
And last week, as I was walking in my neighborhood in Los Angeles, a Trump supporter punched me in the face.
I published my portrait of Trump on Facebook on 9 February, and could never have anticipated what the next few weeks were going to hold. Within 24 hours, my work was on the front page of Reddit and banned from Facebook. In three days, it had been viewed over 50m times. A few days after that, I was slapped with a Digital Millennium Copyright Act takedown notice – a legal complaint filed by a third party through Facebook, arguing their copyright was being violated by me.
+Commentary: When we wrote our critique early on after this went viral, we had imagined, probably not to this extent — backlash, doxxing, and vitriol from the supporters. Certainly if they will beat someone up at a rally often, they will do even worse online and off. Yet never did we imagine that someone would recognize Illma in public and take out their ire on her. Even that seemed “too far” to consider even as this US election cycle is showing us that clearly nothing is too far.
Glad that someone at the Guardian sat down and got the continuing saga, and that again, Illma Gore sounds resolute in pursuing her art. This is what happens, online as well, people hounded, trolled, either for #ExposureTrolling media outlets or celebrities, but by the system in general.
What I’d notice is she counts the ‘views’ available to her by saying 50m (million) but can assure you that at least half of the instances we saw of it were not affiliated with her official accounts, so that estimate is no the low side, while also being inflated. Those are “Impressions” or as Facebook calls them “people reached” — which was always less than specific. But ties into their marketing ploy to get every last page to spend $20 to “boost their post.”
Yet so let’s imagine this image was seen by millions, non-specific. Not just in the first few days, but since. In its many forms all over the many channels, by many users who just swiped and shared. (which doesn’t take into account the many articles written & the views there as well) Many gigggling and processing the shock. Enjoyed or disturbing many. It is a provocative piece.
We often talk about the backlash, the viral approach, and how it isn’t always the best strategically. Sure a gallery should want to own this piece & sell it. But last we saw she was trying to sell it on Ebay. They took it down. Again the same “self-reportage” system for ToC/Copyright complaints is abused by trolls all the time.
Here is where, and this is vital. That a ‘crisis management’ plan not be made up on the fly, and it is something to invest in, pay for, and implement from day one. This particular area is avoided in any workshops for artists’ as well. In an age full of creatives pushing the envelopes of public discourse. This needs to be front and center. Making it up as you go along, posting endlessly about it on Social Media, puts your narrative where it has the greatest likelihood of erasure. Your page has been reported, you have no access, just as your piece is becoming a hit across the internet. That is when you are most vulnerable.
Clearly this an area and chapter in our series we are going to have to address in a detailed way. This one story only highlights a few of the dangers, the lowest-hanging fruit, the horrific violence excepted because we are talking about the online portions specifically. Which this case highlights, the ongoing onslaught, the pernicious trolling and violence, which we detail frequently for women and people of color. That to be a strong voice or presence on the internet requires more than resilience, it necessitates self-care, and a strategic crisis management plan before you start sharing on social media.