If any word has come to define Ivanka Trump for liberals, it's "complicit." The word has become nearly synonymous with her role in the Trump administration — so much so that it's now being referenced by a renowned British post-punk band. Gang of Four is putting Ivanka on the cover of its next EP, which will be titled Complicit.
The image is striking: It's a close-up shot of the first daughter standing at a microphone in front of American flags and looking peacefully out at a crowd. Her expression is unnervingly content, especially when you know the context. She's in the middle of giving a speech on the presidential campaign trail in Aston, Pennsylvania, on Sept. 13, 2016. In that address, she spoke about how her father would "alleviate enormous financial burdens child care places on low-income and middle-income families." One year later, her father supported a bill with a Child Tax Credit that would favor higher-income families. Complicit, indeed.
Gang of Four (GoF)'s Complicit EP is due to be released April 20, and it's hardly the first time the band has written music that acts as social critique. The group has been around since 1977, and as early as 1980 Rolling Stone called them "probably the best politically motivated band in rock & roll." GoF went through stages of making music that was less political — at one point, a band member described how "we got bored with making statements" — but has since tried to return to its highly politicized roots.
GoF also named the second song on its EP after the president's daughter: "Ivanka (Things You Can't Have)." In a statement about the track, Andy Gill — the band's sole remaining original member — hinted that it might delve into the Trump family's relationship with the media. He wrote that people have "lots of ideas" about what the media is, but that "the receding traditional media with disappearing jobs like 'journalists' and 'fact checkers'" is "the media the Trump family despise."
Early in Donald Trump's campaign for president, some liberals wondered whether Ivanka Trump and Jared Kushner, who have funded many Democratic politicians in the past, might be able to act as moderating influences on their father. Those hopeful voices were soon drowned out by those calling the president's daughter a "complicit" actor who understood the bigotry of Trump's words and actions and still worked in support of him.
In March 2017, Saturday Night Live made a parody video around this idea: a fragrance for women called "Complicit," starring Scarlett Johansson as Ivanka Trump. They labeled the perfume "the fragrance for the woman who could stop all this, but won't," and referred to Trump as "a feminist, an advocate, a champion for women... (but, like, how?)."
The next month, Trump gave an infamous interview with Gayle King on CBS in which she dodged a question about about her complicity, saying, "I don't know what it means to be complicit, but I hope time will prove that I have done a good job and much more importantly, that my father's administration is the success that I know it will be."
For many, the word "complicit" now inevitably calls Trump to mind. Merriam-Webster reported that the rate at which its website users were searching for the term shot up by 11,000 percent after the CBS interview. Dictionary.com noted a similar uptick and later named "complicit" its "word of the year."
The forthcoming Complicit EP will be GoF's first studio release since its 2015 album, What Happens Next. One of the tracks, "Lucky," has already been released; it critiques the stock market's role in consolidating wealth.