Rufus Wainwright wanted to make it clear his new music video for "Sword of Damocles" is a direct address to President Trump — in fact, he opened the clip with a card that reads, "Dear Mr. President." The singer slammed Trump in both the song and video clip, which he conveniently released less than a week before the midterm elections.
“This ancient story from the 4th century reminds me of you. Love, Rufus," Wainwright's message read, as the nearly six-minute video opened.
The video centers around the tale of Damocles, which Wainwright summarized after demanding Trump's attention.
Damocles is a character from an ancient Roman parable. He was a courtier of King Dionysius, a tyrannical ruler of the Sicilian city of Syracuse during the fourth and fifth centuries B.C., according to History.com. One night Damocles commented on how delightful the king's life must be and so the king offered to switch places temporarily — and the king's fortunes weren't all that they appeared. Dionysius hung a sword above Damocles' head by a single strand of horsehair and the servant eventually succumbed to the fear it would strike and kill him, leaving him unable to enjoy the privileged position.
"The smug, inexperienced commoner becomes the king. But his joy is short-lived. He quickly realizes that being king isn’t all crowns and cheeseburgers. With great power comes great responsibility," Wainwright explained in the clip, comparing Trump, a billionaire businessman-turned-president, to the Damocles.
The music video features Wainright (King Dionysius) sitting across from actor Darren Criss (Damocles) who stares at the ruler with jealousy as the sword hangs overhead. Eventually, the pair switch roles and Criss takes Wainright's crown and is showered with goods, including maggot-filled cheeseburgers, fries, doughnuts and a golden orb.
Wainwright said the song was his "artistic response" to the current political climate.
“With the Midterm Elections around the corner, it’s important for everyone to take a stand and contribute in some way, whether it’s bringing awareness to issues in your community, protesting/demonstrating, watching the news to formulate your own opinions, creating, yelling — it’s all hands on deck. VOTE," Wainright said in a statement, according to Rolling Stone.
The video, which was officially released Wednesday, got mixed reviews online. Some praised the artist's message and delivery, while others complained about yet another political push from a celebrity.
"Rufus you are truly magnificent! Very reminiscent of Going to a Town, really digging your message here!" one YouTube user commented on Wainwright's video.
"Tremendous message, masterfully delivered — both visually and audibly. I've been a long time fan, and Mr Wainwright never ceases to amaze me. Thank you, Great Man, for the thousandth time!" another echoed.
"No politics, please," one fan begged.
"Disappointing. Unoriginal sounding. Priority should have been given to the music rather than the message. Sad attempt at click-bait. :( Too bad I love Rufus. Such a bad year for artists.," another added.
Wainwright isn't the only singer to take on Trump in recent weeks.
Barbra Streisand just released her first album since 2005, "Walls," which contains a track that directly speaks to Trump and voices her distaste for what his administration is doing to America and the world at large.
The track titled “Don’t Lie to Me" contains lyrics aimed at Trump such as: “How do you sleep when the world keeps turning?/All that we built has come undone/How do you sleep when the world is burning?/Everyone answers to someone."
"I just can't stand what's going on," the Oscar, Grammy and Emmy winner continued. "His assault on our democracy, our institutions, our founders — I think we're in a fight. ... We're in a war for the soul of America."