Dogg Fight: Mock Assassination Sparks Outrage


Snoop Dogg aims a toy pistol at a Trump look-a-like in BadBadNotGood's "Lavender. (via PrankVsPrank, Youtube)

Valentina Pope

The music video for BadBadNotGood’s “Lavender,” featuring Kaytranada and Snoop Dogg, was released on Sunday, March 12. The video depicts a society of clowns and evokes a variety of political issues. Snoop Dogg’s pro-marijuana, anti-police brutality, and anti-Trump viewpoints were apparent throughout the video.  It was the mock assassination of a clown named “Ronald Klump,” strikingly similar in appearance to the President, that  provoked major outrage. 

This music video caused quite a stir, accumulating over 7 million views on Youtube. The director of the video claims it was just a prank and reinforces the idea that the purpose of art is to start discussion. Even though the director claims this video was an artistic expression, it can be interpreted as a threat to the President of the United States, which is a serious crime and should not be taken lightly. Any threat to take the life of or to inflict bodily harm upon the President of the United States is a felony under the United States code Title 18, Section 871. A Florida man who threatened to kill President Donald Trump at his inauguration was arrested and now faces many years in prison, as it is against the law to threaten to harm the President of the United States, no matter your political opinion.  However, unlike that man, Snoop never explicitly threatened an assassination, as he merely held up a gun to a clown-Trump during a music video. 

Even though Snoop Dogg did not explicitly threaten to physically harm Donald Trump, the video could influence anyone with a hatred towards the President to act upon their anger. If just one of those 7 million people who viewed Snoop Dogg’s video “Lavender” took the artistic vision of the director the wrong way, it could lead to national chaos. Not only could this video spark others to act on their anger, but encouraging people to rebel against the government is a crime, known as sedition, punishable by up to twenty years in prison. 

However, political messaging in the form of music is not considered a crime. The First Amendment guarantees all Americans freedom of expression, permitting the seeking and imparting of opinions via any medium. All U.S. citizens have the right to speak freely and to express their preferences.  Throughout history, U.S. Presidents have not been strangers to musical protest.  Specifically, Ronald Reagan faced his fare share of musical criticism in the form of punk rock, with the Ramones’ “Bonzo goes to Bitburg,” and the Dead Kennedys’ “Bleed for Me.”  More generally, the Beatles, Black Sabbath, the Kinks, and Pinky Floyd have all uttered some anti-governmental lyrics.  Even now, Snoop Dogg is not the only artist opposing Trump with his lyrics.  Many songs have included anti-Trump sentiments, some of the more blatant cases being the Gorrilaz’s “Hallelujah Money,” Eminem’s “Campaign Speech,” and YG’s “FDT.”

Musical protest is not, and will never be, a criminal action. However, I believe that there is a fine line between artistic license and threatening behavior. There is a difference between writing a song with anti-Trump lyrics and pointing a weapon at Trump look-a-like in a music video.  Though not criminal, as they are protected by the First Amendment and the idea of artistic license, Snoop’s actions are frighteningly disrespectful.  The President of the United States is the chief executive of our nation; it is his responsibility to lead and protect us. We, as U.S. citizens, have the responsibility to respect and and obey the powers that govern us. Whether one agrees with the party in power or not, all citizens of the United States have the responsibility to respect the leader of our nation.  

Students around campus had varying responses to Snoop Dogg’s controversial video. Sophomore Nathaniel Selub said, “Although Snoop Dogg had the right to express his beliefs, I personally believe the commentary is a little too extreme; however, it is not much worse than some of the remarks made during the 2016 election.” Another student Kassidy Angelo explained, “ I don’t think it is right for any artist to disrespect anyone in that matter, especially the President of the United States. However, I do believe that Snoop Dogg made the video [to seek] publicity, due to the widespread dislike of the President [from many Snoop Dogg fans].” 

If Snoop’s goal was to gain publicity for the song, the President fell right into his trap, tweeting “Can you imagine what the outcry would be if @SnoopDogg, failing career and all, had aimed and fired the gun at President Obama? Jail time!”  When looking at his income over the past several years, Snoop Dogg’s career is far from failing, and Donald Trump, through his tweet, may have provided the rapper with more momentum in the form of publicity. 

Many people who watch Snoop Dogg’s video probably agree with his political views, opposing President Trump. This includes rappers like Common, Ice-T, and T.I.,who have supported Snoop Dogg during the feud. Although everyone has the right to his own opinion, expressing hatred towards towards Trump in a visually aggressive manner could inspire a legitimate attack on the President. Snoop Dogg, over the years, has become a cultural icon, attracting listeners from all walks of life.  Fans of Snoop Dogg, galvanized by his every move, could take the artistic expression the wrong way and, in a lapse of judgment, could attempt to physically inflict harm to the President. 

Snoop Dogg has never been a stranger to controversy.  The rapper has always been extremely vocal about his political opinions. However, in this case, I believe that he went too far in expressing his beliefs. There is a fine line between speaking one’s mind and threatening our democracy; Snoop Dogg crossed that line when he aimed a pistol at the head of “Ronald Klump.” Though no legal punishment is foreseeable, I still would consider Snoop Dogg’s actions irresponsible. Trump’s constituents have called for an apology, but, knowing Snoop, that would be extremely unlikely. 

Photo Source: YouTube [spacer height=”20px”]

Sources: Rolling Stone, HipHopDx, Cornell, West World, The Daily Sheeple, Time, Freedom House, Twitter, Forbes, Mic Network Inc, Mirror, Variety