We're living in a post-Bad Lip Reading world where there are lip dubs and there are lip dubs. The core concept remains the same: you replace the audio of one video with new, funnier audio to create a new experience. Every so often, though, you come across a lip dub that feels as if it was meant to exist more than the source material ever was. Darth Trump is one of those lip dubs.
Three years ago, creative partners Zak Koonce and Craven Moorhaus produced a series of altered Star Wars clips that reimagined a galaxy far, far away as a much seedier, fart-joke filled world populated by bureaucratic Sith and alcoholic Jedi.
The pair, who call themselves the Auralnauts, began "fixing" the much-loathed trilogy of prequels after becoming YouTube famous for giving The Dark Knight's Bane a new voice and passion for the low-carb lifestyle. Star Wars seemed like the next, logical step. The unintentional camp of The Phantom Menace and other Star Wars movies made it relatively easy for the editors to spitball their funniest ideas and incorporate them into scenes where a bit of over-the-top nonsense fit the easiest.
When I asked the Auralnauts about what led them to mashup two of pop culture's most sinister bald men, the duo explained to me that Trump's signature stream-of-conscious style of public speaking makes him the perfect soundboard for someone like Vader, who emotes without actually having a face.
"We like that everyone Vader interacts with kind of has to sit there and listen to him," they said. "Some of them are fascinated, some of them are uncomfortable, others are terrified. If they disagree with him, he chokes them."
Unlike a lot of the more popular lip dubs on YouTube, Darth Trump toes the line between absurdity and political commentary both because of the seamless edits and the eerie way that Trump's comments make perfect sense in the context of some of Vader's exchanges.
"The similarities between Trump and Vader are pretty scary when you really take a look at them," The Auralnauts told me, jokingly. "Both were raised in the desert by single mothers and adopted by an order of powerful warriors monks."
Depending on who you ask, Darth Trump is both a sendup and a tribute to the very real, very unhinged rhetoric that's made Trump's bid for the GOP nomination much less fantastical than one would have imagined. From the Auralnauts' perspective, the public's mixed reactions are just a reflection of how modern American politics work.
"Everyone is seeing what they want and using it as evidence for what they believe," they said.
In their fantasy, a spectral Trump continues to poll well across the galaxy even after he's presumably given up the Dark Side and rejoined Yoda and Obi-Wan. I asked the Auralnauts what Emperor Palpatine, Darth Vader's one-time mentor and co-conspirator would make of Trump's bid for the White House. If given the choice between Darth Vader and Trump, who would Palpatine ultimately choose to back?
"We're pretty positive Palpatine would stick with Vader," they told me. "Given the GOP's inability to reign Trump in, we believe Palpatine would find himself in a similar situation."
"Vader, despite a last second change of heart, was a reliable patsy who never questioned Palpatine's policies except when it came to family values," they went on. "I guess that makes him sort of a Jeb Bush."
Fusion is partly owned by ABC, a member of the Disney family.