Timothée Chalamet Compares Joe Manchin to Evil Oil Baron in ‘Dune’

Actor Timothée Chalamet posted a cute Dune meme to his Instagram stories Wednesday night, which compared Senator Joe Manchin, who is single handedly dismantling legislation that would do broadly popular and necessary things, to the Baron Harkonnen, who is the oil-magnate villain of the first Dune film.

Chalamet is having a moment since the release of Dune, where he plays the lead character. Although he’s already a famous and acclaimed actor, his past as a theater dweeb and certified nerd has only made him more endearing to the people who have discovered him through the acclaimed science fiction epic, which, among other things, tackles topics like resource hoarding, rampant capitalism, and environmental destruction.

It’s comforting that he also clearly understood the assignment. On Wednesday the actor posted a meme that originated on the DSA ecosocialist working group’s Twitter account that compares Manchin to the evil Baron Harkonnen to his Instagram story. Given its origins, the meme does not paint a flattering image of Manchin.

A screenshot of TImothée Chalamet's Instagram stories

Image Source: Timothée Chalamet

Right now, Manchin, who has financial ties to the coal industry in West Virginia, is leading the Democratic opposition to President Joe Biden’s reconciliation bill on the grounds that he won’t accept any bill that penalizes the coal industry. Last year, Manchin made about half a million dollars through his investments in the coal industry. Climate change experts say that it is long past time to take action on the threat of climate change, and that President Biden’s bill doesn’t go far enough in terms of transitioning America to clean energy.

On the other hand, in the universe of Dune Baron Harkonnen is financially invested in “spice,” the substance that makes space travel possible, and losing control of it drives him to eliminate protagonist Paul Atreides’s family mostly out of spite. Despite Paul’s intuition that the world is changing and the Harkonnen family’s control over spice isn’t inevitable, Baron Harkonnen is more than happy to kill any and everyone that gets in the way between him and the profits he makes from spice. You be the judge on how much that sounds like Manchin to you, but people on Twitter and elsewhere have appreciated that the Muad’dib is drawing these connections.

It’s also worth mentioning that Manchin recently stood on his yacht, where he shouted to voters that “we’re going to make the rich and famous pay.” This week, Manchin single handedly killed a proposal that would have taxed only a handful of billionaires.

Aficionados of Dune have said for decades that the themes in the novel resonate with our modern politics, especially if you see spice as analogous to oil. It’s cool that this classic science fiction series is giving people, even its stars, the ability to describe the selfishness of people like Senator Manchin. Chalamet’s Instagram story may not be as revelatory as him performing the Nicki Minaj song “Roman’s Revenge” at what appears to be a high school talent show, but if there’s one thing you can trust a former theater kid to be, it’s to be extra as hell exactly when the world needs it.

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