Donate to RAICES Texas’s Family Reunification and Bond Fund.

Let America’s Best New Satirist Show You The Dark Hearts of the Presidential Candidates

Vic Berger talks us through the fifteen Vines that define the insane 2016 election.

August 11, 2016

Vic Berger was a freelance music video editor and Berklee College of Music graduate when he first found internet fame early in the primaries by messing with one-time Republican frontrunner Jeb Bush.

ADVERTISEMENT

One of his first-ever political Vines – a six-second clip of Jeb Bush naming his Apple accessories punctuated by an embarrassed fluttering of the eyes – began to go viral in July 2015. He asked his Twitter followers to get the Vine to a million views; in return, he said he'd get a tattoo on his neck that read "Jeb4Prez." The Vine soon hit a million views, thanks in no small part to the encouragement of Jeb Bush himself, who tweeted his support.

Berger elaborately faked the entire tattoo, getting a local artist in on the joke, which only piqued the media's attention. Bush's campaign quickly moved on, but by then Berger had exposed its fecklessness and highlighted its inability to connect on a human level. "All these people from Bush's campaign were urging me to do it," he says. "It's the stupidest thing they could have done."

Since then, his Vines have gathered millions of views, and he's introduced the world to new sides of "The Twist" singer Chubby Checker, disgraced televangelist Jerry Falwell, Kanye West, Steve Harvey, and more. He's also inked a deal with SuperDeluxe for his very own solo vehicle, The Vic Berger Election Special. Co-starring and directed by Tim Heidecker, it shows Berger is a strangely compelling presence in front of the camera as well.

His satire is not loquacious all-caps EVISCERATION. His creations are not cooly-superior breakdowns of the logical fallacies and ethical transgressions of America's political class. Instead, he specializes in an almost-vérité rapid-response, finding moments that reveal a person's true character, tweaked and exaggerated to amplify an absurdity just enough to make it clear to anyone who's missed it.

The FADER asked Berger to scour the over 1,000 Vines he's produced, and to talk to us about a few of the moments he thinks people should remember. "I don't really watch network news," he tells us over the phone. "They have to keep repeating themselves and then they move on and everyone forgets. I think documenting these things as they happen with Vines or little videos just help us remember the significant and really crazy moments."




Berger: "This was one of the first political Vines that I did. I was following Jeb's YouTube channel which was constantly uploading these videos called "#JebNoFilter," mostly videos of him doing what the average American does, and make him relatable. That was very early on in his run for presidency, and from then on you could see it was going to be a rough ride for him."




ADVERTISEMENT

Berger: "This was meant to comment on the Republican Party's attempts to attract minority voters. In the original video during the interview, somehow they brought up James Brown, and asked him what his favorite song was. And instead of just saying 'I Feel Good' or something, he picks something he thinks will reach the black vote. It's beautiful. When I first saw it I laughed so hard."




Berger: "More pandering. He's just trying to show people he's a gun lover, but he seems really uncomfortable holding one. We went to see Cruz at a diner a town over from me, and you could tell as he walked from his bus to the diner, he did not want to be there. People yelling at him, calling him names. He's just pissed so many people off.

"Outlets like the one that produced this video, the people who work there are nice guys, but I give them a lot of shit for trying to make Republicans look really cool."




Berger: "Trump can say he loves his grandkids or your kids, but he only cares about himself, and that's very clear. He's even said 'If I lose this race, I'll consider it a big waste of time, money, and energy.' That's such a selfish thing to say! He's not running to help people, he doesn't give a shit about this big movement he's created."




Berger: "Trump is a cartoon character. I think using him as a character and perform his own jokes with minor changes is enough to satirize him. I'm not changing his words, he's saying that shitty thing."




Berger: "I think when he kicked that baby out of the rally, that was a turning point in his campaign. A guy I know was going to vote for him before he did that. It's nowhere near as bad as banning people of a certain religion, but this made it easier for his supporters to relate to the people he was disrespecting."

ADVERTISEMENT




Berger: "I love whenever he holds that book up. He's even said 'People love when I hold this Bible up!' He once tried to read a favorite Bible quote and said something like 'This is from Two Corinthians.' Anyone that's ever been to church knows that's not how you would say that. But it works for him. People in this election are still giving him a pass."




Berger: "That Vine shows how he's creating this hostile environment and this hateful place where people that are supporting Trump are just okay with picking up his racist remarks and freely using them."




Berger: "He's flying by the seat of his pants. Sometimes they reel him in with a teleprompter, but when he goes off-script, that's when the funniest stuff happens. He's in charge of his whole campaign, he's making all of the decisions. That's why it looks so insane. This Vine is just a encapsulation of that."




Berger: "This was at a point when all the states hadn't even voted yet, so she's basically saying that these people's votes don't matter. I thought it was entitled of her, and I wanted to document that moment."

ADVERTISEMENT




Berger: "This really blew up because of the book she was reading [Claudia Rankine's Citizen] ... [also] people started contacting her for interviews because of this Vine. I think it's a pretty kind of powerful protest, even if it wasn't intentional, and I'm surprised more like it haven't happened."




Berger: "This was maybe the last two weeks of his campaign. He can't even get his name out probably and he stops himself briefly to correct himself."




Berger: "How can you believe in a guy who clearly doesn't believe in himself?"




Berger: "Carly Fiorina becoming Cruz's VP wasn't going to affect the Republican nomination at all. It was all over by then. When she got onstage and started singing these creepy songs about Ted Cruz's children, I think to make herself seem more motherly or whatever, it was clear they weren't going to last a week."

ADVERTISEMENT



Berger: "A very simple Vine, but I wanted to capture the looks of these people as they're hearing this information. When I saw that, my heart sunk. I thought 'Jesus, what have we done?' There's a strong chance that this guy could become president and have that ability, and be eager to use it."




Let America’s Best New Satirist Show You The Dark Hearts of the Presidential Candidates