What The Ba-kaaaawk? Activist Behind #TrumpChicken Isn't Done Yet | KUER 90.1

What The Ba-kaaaawk? Activist Behind #TrumpChicken Isn't Done Yet

Aug 11, 2017
Originally published on August 11, 2017 8:23 pm

No, it was not a dream. There really was a 30-foot inflatable chicken behind the White House on Wednesday.

And, yes: The golden coiffed bird, which debuted in China late last year, bore an eerie resemblance to President Trump. What with its furrowed eyebrows, red wattle in place of the president's usual red tie, and the unmistakable swoopy hairdo.

But "why?" one might ask. What did it mean?

"Obviously, it's a protest," said Taran Singh Brar, the man behind the bird behind the White House, calling from the bathroom of a bar in Washington, D.C.

"The messaging is that the president's too afraid to take action. He's a weak and insecure leader and playing a great game of chicken with North Korea," Brar said.

Plus, he added, "The president himself is so visually obsessed, that I know that something like this has potency. It's a visual protest."

Brar is not just anti-Trump — he's anti-the entire White House administration and all of the policies it is pursuing. He feels such fervent opposition, he said, that it has inspired the 31-year-old documentary filmmaker to take up political organizing.

This is not the first time that Brar, who lives in Orange County, Calif., has boxed up a giant chicken, crammed it into a heavy-duty cardboard box, and flown across the country with it in tow. Earlier this year, a 10-foot version of Don the Chicken — yup, that is the creature's official name — made its debut at a Tax March in Chicago.

Comparatively, that was an easy feat, according Brar.

Apparently, it took him four months "and thousands of [his] dollars" to hatch the White House plan. (Did you think there wouldn't be chicken puns?) Getting buy-in from the National Park Service and clearance from the Secret Service was a laborious process that he suspects is intended to dissuade the average person from taking on such an endeavor. But most of Brar's mental energy was expended on figuring out the chicken's best camera angles.

He said he spent hours studying CNN and other cable news channels that used the same shot with the White House in the foreground and the Washington Monument in the background.

"I understood that if I positioned it correctly and got the permit for the correct place, I would be in full view of the cameras. And, I did it in such a way that the White House wasn't blocking it, which I knew would be what would take it viral globally," he said.

Brar's plan worked perfectly. Within hours of erecting the fowl on the lawn, the bird had achieved ultimate made-it status: a hashtag of its very own.

#TrumpChicken.

And there was this unforgettable exchange between Fox News' Shepard Smith and Associated Press reporter Josh Lederman.

"Before we go, right over your shoulder. We see this shot all the time, but what is that?" Smith asked.

"Shep, it appears to be a very large chicken display," Lederman responded, managing not to crack a smile.

For those of you who missed the spectacle, fear not. Brar is planning another protest, "but it's going to be more of a visual feast."

While he is still waiting on a few permits, Brar is gearing up to put on a "mock military parade."

"It's what Trump says he wants," Brar said. "So, I'm going to give it to him."

"That will include inflatable Russian weapons protecting dozens of Dons."

Copyright 2017 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

ARI SHAPIRO, HOST:

A giant, inflatable chicken which looked oddly like President Trump appeared outside the White House on Wednesday. It created a sensation and then disappeared. With her curiosity piqued, NPR's Vanessa Romo went to investigate.

VANESSA ROMO, BYLINE: There it was just hovering in the background of 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue. Eventually it became so distracting that even Fox News host Shepard Smith on live TV couldn't help himself.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

SHEPARD SMITH: Before we go, behind the White House, over your shoulder, there - we see this shot all the time. But what is that?

JOSH LEDERMAN: Shep, it appears to be a very large chicken display.

SMITH: A what - seriously?

ROMO: Seriously. It turns out the 30-foot inflatable chicken, with its swoopy, golden coif and tie-shaped red waddle, was actually glowering at President Trump's home in protest.

TARAN SINGH BRAR: The messaging is that the president's too afraid; he's a weak and insecure leader and playing a game of chicken with North Korea.

ROMO: That's Taran Singh Brar, the man behind the bird behind the White House. I caught him on his cellphone. He knows Trump wasn't there to see it. He's on a work vacay in New Jersey. But, Brar says...

BRAR: The president himself is, like, so visibly obsessed that I know something like this, like, has potency.

ROMO: Apparently it took the 31-year-old documentary filmmaker four months to sort out all of the paperwork for his one-chicken demonstration. And he spent hours studying cable news channels to figure out the bird's best camera angles because...

BRAR: I understood that if I positioned it correctly, I would be in full view of the cameras, which I knew would be what would take it viral globally.

ROMO: He was not wrong. Within hours of erecting the fowl on the lawn, the bird had achieved ultimate made-it status - #TrumpChicken. So where did the chicken come from in the first place?

CASEY LATIOLAIS: I'm Casey Latiolais, and I created the Trump chicken.

ROMO: Why did the world need a Trump chicken?

LATIOLAIS: So...

ROMO: Latiolais says a Chinese real estate company contracted him to come up with the design to celebrate the Chinese New Year. This is the year of the rooster. Officially, the company won't acknowledge that it is in fact supposed to strike a resemblance to the 45th president. But when I asked Latiolais what makes it so Trumpy (ph), he said...

LATIOLAIS: Probably just a combination of all the things - the golden hair, the hand gestures and the eyebrows. Plus, it's a little plump.

ROMO: The chicken is not done with D.C. Brar, the activist, is planning another spectacle.

BRAR: What we have planned next is probably going to be more of a visual feast. It's a mock military parade.

ROMO: That's right, a mock military parade. Vanessa Romo, NPR News, Washington.

(SOUNDBITE OF MATT HUGHES' "PITCH BLACK CITY") Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.