The Dilemma of Viral Videos in the Age of Trump

Super Deluxe's Vic Berger on how his videos are revealing the truth and the bullshit of the current administration.

It’s early December, closing in on nearly a full year of the Trump presidency, and Super Deluxe video editor Vic Berger excuses himself from a long diatribe about the president’s narcissism with a frustrated sigh. 

“Today he came out in support of a pedophile for Senate,” Berger says in the midst of Alabama’s special election race for senate. “I mean that’s insane. That’s not a partisan issue. Before this everybody would agree that you would not elect a pedophile to the Senate.”

The state of Alabama agreed, narrowly. Trump, despite the mounting Ls, has certainly managed to upend social norms since he announced his candidacy in the summer of 2015. Therein lies the challenge for Berger, who achieved viral success by using unorthodox video editing methods to, in his own words, “cut through all the bullshit and reveal the truth.” Using Trump’s antics for comedic fodder is a balancing act when his actions go beyond parody – from the subtle ones that Berger has a natural ability at honing in on, to the major policy changes that affect millions of Americans.

“I don’t find anything of him funny anymore,” Berger says. “You know, if I find something funny I’m laughing because it’s so painful to see. I don’t want to highlight or accentuate any of those moments that may actually be funny because in the scheme of things he’s the president and he’s actually hurting people’s lives.” 

Ad – content continues below

Berger continues to use the platform to highlight the inane to the insane of the Trump administration. The reaction he receives from his videos might be helping him battle his Trump fatigue.

“People tell me that a lot of my edits are kind of a healing thing or even just a way to cope with the insanity where they can watch that and say, ‘I’m not alone. I’m not going crazy as the only one that feels this way.’” 

There may be therapeutic value in Berger’s work, but he’s no shrink. He’s an outlier, not a product of the comedy or video editing world. He had no formal video editing training and maintains he “still doesn’t know what he’s doing.” He’s got his fans fooled. He did manage to get discovered by Tim Heidecker of Adult Swim fame, whose comedic sensibility perfectly matches what Berger is going for. After he starting editing videos for Super Deluxe, Berger blew up during the GOP race for the presidential nomination. The rhetoric of the candidates carried significant impact back then, but it still felt like more of a sendup of the dog and pony show process than an indictment of the individual candidates. In “Trump Has No Chill At The 9th GOP Debate”, Berger gives a masterclass in manipulating sound–deafening silences for Ben Carson, disheartening laughs at the expense of Jeb Bush–and whiplash-quick cuts of Trump on the attack – “Jeb is a big fat mess.” 

In Berger’s more recent work, Trump’s mannerisms–hand gestures and facial ticks among them–are still fair game. The editing style that worked so well during the GOP race remains largely intact. Though Berger has been more focused on the issues in his latest work. In his most recent video, he uses the State of the Union as a comment on the hypocrisy surrounding Trump’s proposed immigration policies

“He’s causing so much harm to this country that I just want to be very careful how I present my videos and not make light of that because it is serious what he’s doing,” he says. 

Berger, the outlier himself, sees Trump for what he is: a non-partisan character. 

“He only stands for himself, he doesn’t care one way or the other. So I don’t look at Trump as being a partisan issue. He just figured out that he could con people on the right more likely than people on the left.” 

Ad – content continues below

While his videos might help some cope, there’s often outrage on the other side of that. That’s when Berger knows he’s on to something.

“When people are commenting and they’re just attacking what I look like or getting personal with me, I know I did something right. I hit on a nerve, and I touched on the truth,” he says.