After first lady Melania Trump unveiled this year’s Christmas decorations at the White House on Monday, it didn’t take long for social media users and others to weigh in with hatred and mockery.
The White House’s theme for its Christmas decorations this year is “American Treasures,” which “honors the unique heritage of America,” according to a press release.
Melania Trump designed the display to shine “with the spirit of patriotism” and to display “the many splendors found across our great nation.”
“This is a joyous time of year when we decorate the White House for the Christmas season,” Melania Trump said in a statement. “Our theme honors the heart and spirit of the American people. Thank you to the many volunteers and staff who worked hard to decorate the halls of the People’s House in Christmas cheer.”
But one aesthetic choice, in particular, really stoked speculation on social media platforms: the red Christmas trees leading to the Grand Foyer and Cross Hall.
Last year, media members and social media users ripped Melania Trump for her choice of white Christmas trees. The first lady chose red this year to represent “patriotism” and “the heart of America.” She wanted to give them “center stage with more than 14,000 red ornaments hanging from 29 trees.”
“The choice of red is an extension of the pales, or stripes, found in the presidential seal designed by our Founding Fathers,” the press release read.
“It’s a symbol of valor and bravery.”
But the decision to highlight red instead received an onslaught of criticism and mockery as media members and others compared the scarlet trees to the iconic horror movie “The Shining,” as well as to the red capes worn by handmaids in the popular “The Handmaid’s Tale” TV series.
“I respect the aesthetic boldness of the choice … It’s just that not everybody’s holiday videos work so perfectly over the music from ‘The Shining,'” MSNBC’s Chris Hayes said on “All In.”
MSNBC noted alongside the media clip of Hayes on its website, “The White House calls them topiary trees. Others are calling it murder forest.”
“Melania Trump didn’t show up to explain her spooky Christmas decorations,” wrote The Washington Post, not to be outdone. “So what about those red trees?”
Melania Trump didn’t show up to explain her spooky Christmas decorations. So what about those red trees? https://t.co/EsGcSQZzgs
— The Washington Post (@washingtonpost) November 27, 2018
Vogue Magazine tweeted, “Walking through a strange assemblage of blood red trees, Melania Trump looks to be channeling The Handmaid’s Tale.”
Walking through a strange assemblage of blood red trees, Melania Trump looks to be channeling The Handmaid's Tale. https://t.co/VUPKfmhMuF
— Vogue Magazine (@voguemagazine) November 27, 2018
Even Margaret Atwood, author of the novel “The Handmaid’s Tale,” tweeted, “Crimson trees have put the White House in a very red state.”
She included a link to a Huffington Post article, “Melania Trump’s Red Christmas Trees Conjure ‘Handmaid’s Tale’ For Twitter Users.”
Crimson trees have put the White House in a very red state. https://t.co/7KsK5GTZNA
— Margaret E. Atwood (@MargaretAtwood) November 27, 2018
“[Melania] Trump once again revealed the decor courtesy of a highly stylized video montage, in which she wanders around her home surveying, well, a ton of holiday stuff; and once again, it seems that FLOTUS has chosen a theme more inspired by hell than a holly, jolly Christmas,” the Vogue article read.
Actor Misha Collins tweeted, “If you ever doubted the Trump/Russia collusion, this should put you over the top: This year in the White House, even the Christmas trees are red.”
If you ever doubted the Trump/Russia collusion, this should put you over the top: This year in the White House, even the Christmas trees are red. pic.twitter.com/71Ge8NiHhD
— Misha Collins (@mishacollins) November 27, 2018
Slate, for its part, wanted to know, “What message is Melania Trump sending with her red Christmas trees of death?”
— Slate (@Slate) November 26, 2018
Vice tweeted, “Melania Trump’s Christmas from Hell has everything: • red trees • dark lighting • a somber vibe to pay tribute to our country’s unique heritage of anguish and pain.”
Melania Trump's Christmas from Hell has everything:
• red trees
• dark lighting
• a somber vibe to pay tribute to our country's unique heritage of anguish and painhttps://t.co/8D0S3p9Gig
— VICE (@VICE) November 26, 2018
British journalist Toby Earle tweeted, “‘What I want is a series of blood-soaked trees, dipped in my enemies’s life force, like the old days’ #BeBest.”
— Toby Earle (@TobyonTV) November 26, 2018
Democratic Coalition Chairman Jon Cooper wrote, “Oh, I get it. Red for Republican.”
He added, “Not very subtle, Melania.”
Oh, I get it. Red for Republican. Not very subtle, Melania. https://t.co/sYEjhlpd3j
— Jon Cooper 🌊 (@joncoopertweets) November 26, 2018
House Beautiful, an interior design lifestyle magazine, published an article called, “So, The 2018 White House Christmas Theme Is Apparently ‘The Shining.'”
“Another year in the Trump White House, another opportunity to add a touch of holiday magic to the banality of evil!” House Beautiful wrote.
“After all, what is Christmas with the Trumps if not a horror movie full of tired clichés?”
In that same article, House Beautiful mocked Melania Trump’s white theme for Christmas 2017, calling that theme “A terrifying amount of white.”
“We hope you enjoy this year’s display, but we know that last year’s decor will always hold the most special place in your heart. After all, it’s like that old Christmas carol says, ‘I’m dreaming of a white nation!'” House Beautiful added.
Indeed, for using white in her theme last year, the first lady received overwhelming criticism and mockery that still continues.
In its review of Melania Trump’s 2018 decorations, Vogue reminisced about last year’s, saying the white theme offered “distinctly desolate, post-apocalyptic ice chamber vibes.”
The Daily Beast’s Tim Teeman wrote last year that the White House “has become the most terrifying domestic space in America,” as evidenced by the first lady’s decorations.
“Melania Trump, with what looks like the help of Tim Burton, has designed an anti-Christmas wonderland of white branches set stark against the wall and casting creepy shadows on the ceiling, leading to — at the end of the corridor — in the East Garden Room, a traditional Christmas tree bathed in golden light,” Teeman wrote pompously.
And The New Yorker’s Jia Tolentino wrote an article last year titled, “With the White House Christmas, the Image of Melania Trump Transforms from Fairy-Tale Prisoner to Wicked Queen.”
“With these Christmas photos, the image of our first lady as the wicked queen has taken over,” wrote one critic rudely.
“With these Christmas photos, the image of our first lady as the wicked queen has taken over,” Tolentino rudely wrote, adding that “it is easy to imagine the White House as a site of menacing enchantment” where “hearts grow colder and stonier.”
Although former first lady Michelle Obama received almost nothing but praise from a fawning media for her eight years of Christmas decorations — Melania Trump has received no such treatment during her first two Christmas seasons in the White House.
Weigh in with your thoughts on this.