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Posts Tagged ‘Reality TV President’

bomb throwing bunnyIn the reality show landscape of our current political state, all news is punditry and all punditry is news, the “fake news” cry is legitimized by the ahistorical zeal of combative (and escalating outrageous) opinion.

And Trump is the embodiment of this ahistorical, opinionated, “knownothing” specialist. His mastery is outrage and inflated self-promotion. His appeal is that he is boring, predictable, and completely without mastery or insight.

He sounds like the undereducated, “common sense” every person, the common schlub, who’s deepest thinking is religious or trades’ based (mechanic hobbyists or overweight outdoor’s men).

Trump has the platform to shout these banalities to the world, so when he angrily opines about chicken buckets or celebrity weight gain, he reifies the basic thoughts of the distracted masses. He appeals to the hopeless, economically trapped middle class, since he broadcasts their specific grievances – grievances based in the crisp unfairness of the world, in all its full, escalating anger.

But the distracted mass is most concerned with the poverty of their daily life overwhelmed by the inoperability of systems they are financially and physically constrained by – debt, underemployment, constant barrage of status affirming materialism. They are literally starving in their bloated bodies poisoned by the chemical additives disguised as affordable food. Their lives are angry and inflamed and they lash out with provocations meant to quell the waves of empathy they refuse to feel for those most like themselves.

Their patience disappears into a long, frustrated sigh of resignation. In order to distract themselves from personal injustices (real or perceived), their anger jumps from micro to macro in half of a step. And then, across a national stage, populated by beautiful people with perfect smiles talking about things that barely touch any of our lived experiences, comes the blistering voice of Trump.

His limited vocabulary offering up the limited solutions that most people conclude on their own without a second thought. Trump is not a refreshing gush of honesty. In fact, Trump is the most dishonest mockery of the common sense solutions.

Trump pulls from the drama of reality tv narratives, as we’ve seen, but adds to it the selective coherence of conspiracy theories and “refreshing” acknowledgement that the world is unfairly screwed to fuck “us.”

And it is all based in an fake relationship with reality – bad faith, lies, distortion, and ruthless public relations spin. Trump’s ability to plant stories or seed the news with stories about himself are well documented. He understands the cult of fame is based in endless propaganda, so he became a bumbling, lying thug of publicity.

All the outrageousness and terrible misinformation Trump spews aside, his real resonant message remains – “See how unfairly I am treated? ME? Donald Trump? I understand how fucked the System is for YOU, since it is screwing me too!”

Even though that is complete and utter bullshit, total crap-mouth shit-talk, it resonates with the distracted middle class, who feel the same way about all their bad decisions and inability to wiggle out of the economic snares trapping them.

Trump is America’s temper tantrum made flesh.

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kicking cripples

Everyone on the planet knows Trump is ratings obsessed. Numbers, even inflated imaginary numbers, are his bread and butter – quantifiable proof of success.

Ratings are the results of direct competition. A ranking of winners and losers. One of the supposed driving forces in Trump’s life remains his father’s conception that one was either a Killer / King or you were a weakling/loser.

Ratings, and by extension poll numbers, are unlike any wealth he’s ever collected. Since ratings are based on pure dominance. Audience size is the only metric of success. TV ratings are a corporate popularity contest. More personal than real estate with his name on it. More satisfying than any bank account accumulation.

But why.

Sure, it appears to be pure textbook narcissism. It is all grandiosity. Ratings satisfy Trump’s driving need for admiration. And ratings validate the mountain of lies designed to prop up a fantasy image of self.

BUT.

If Trump is just personality disordered, then, we would not be in such a predicament. The predicament is one of chaotic meaninglessness. Trump has crashed through the “fourth wall” of our 24 hour news cycle.

Trump refuses to adhere to the banality of talking points designed to bore and demotivate the audience. Trump as stolen the metrics of entertainment and applied them to our politics. So we are dislocated and confused.

BUT should we be confounded by the success of Trump at redefining the political dialogue? No. Because his message is based in how we consume our entertainment now. Where we are shocked is that such a “serious” sphere as national politics could be so easily adapted into a ratings generating machine.

As long as Trump’s message is simply stated, summarily repetitious, and designed to amp up emotional response / drama, he will continue to dictate and dominate our political discourse – unchallenged.

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donald-trump-short-fingered-vulgarian-fingers-bruce-handy-ss09Trump could not have happened, or risen to power, without the ideology of reality show competitions becoming the aspirational fairy tale of our culture. Reality show competitions combine the banality of traditional game shows with the simplicity of soap opera melodrama.

Earlier this month, NPR interviewed Tom Forman, a reality show producer who worked with Trump producing reality tv shows. Forman explained how Trump uses the reality show high drama/conflict driven narrative:

“You don’t want to get bogged down in an argument over facts when you make a reality television show. You don’t want to convey a ton of information, because people get bored or lost or change the channel… […] Trump tweets about withdrawing federal funding, and suddenly you’re impassioned and you have a point of view — and he’s hooked you. …he’s made it understandable, he’s made it personal, he’s added a conflict-driven narrative.”

I said during the second Presidential debate that all Trump had to do to win the election was look over at Secretary Clinton and say, “You are a lying bitch.” And America would explode with glee.

Some of that explosion would be outrage and despair over the crass and disgusting nature of such a profanity. And that reaction would be righteous, rational, and justified. It would be the only reasonable response.

Even those political fans who only followed this year’s political playoffs would be shocked, but it  would border on relief that, finally, someone was speaking plain, everyday English at one of these debates. Even if they were turned off by what was said.

Trump supporters, and everyone else for that matter, would delight at being able to finally have a nuanced and strong opinion on politics. Putting aside any “authentic” thought or reaction, the majority of America would embrace the conflict and drama of such an outrage. The majority would celebrate the “event” as something interesting to talk about.

And while Trump never, quite, said those exact words, he came damn close. And with almost everything he pronounce, he does it in such direct and simplistic terms that everyone, no matter how intelligent or “woke” they are, immediately has a impassioned opinion about it.

And this is the reality show genius of the Trump dialogic. He argues with reality, so we might argue with each other.

Is it simply distraction? Is it only distortion? Is it totally nefarious? I am not sure.

As my friend Stoopid Johnny said about the outrage at a cabinet appointee’s nomination –  “Another day, another government program I’ve never heard about.” It could be that Trump might be teaching us the most profound civic lesson ever?

But, probably not.

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reagan-burger-mcdonaldsRonald Reagan was many, many awful things that we’ve allowed our political culture to forget. The Reagan record is a direct attack on fact. There is a new dimension to the Reagan Myth, one that IS mentioned but without the appropriate weight of the strangeness. Reagan was first and forever a B Movie star. A handsome actor of medium acting talent.

As a movie star, Reagan was a successful failure. Yes, he starred in movies. But monkey movies. He was never going reach the “next level” as an actor and his movies, if remembered at all, would be remembered for Bonzo, not Reagan.

But as a B Movie star, Reagan embodied certain stereotypes that soothed the fears of voters facing a changing American society. Reagan looked like he smelled clean. He carried himself with the poise of a matinee idol playing the part of the unflappable American President. But at least Ronnie did some research for the role as an elected governor.

I say all that because the United States just elected our first reality TV star President. Arguably, reality tv shows are the b movies of current culture. Reality TV is full of absurd characters interacting in stupid, highly melodramatic situations. And most importantly, reality tv is incredibly cheap and quick to make.

It is incredibly well-documented that Trump is a shit business man. Without the protections of bankruptcy, tax law loopholes, and the non-stop self-affirming promotion, Trump wouldn’t register a blip on the business pages. He is only a success because he keeps telling us about his successes.

And it is that narrative, the unending litany of unsupported bullshit, that creates the appearance of a brilliant business person. All his credentials are noisy and garish. He surrounds himself with gaudy feedback loop, shiny baubles meant to awe us into envy at the lush life he lives.

But everything “Trump” is a set piece. Even taking Trump as a snickering joke, a clueless punchline to a “sad and mean” jab at his expense, further inflates his coffers.

Trump is not a phony. He is something beyond phony. Trump is curated. Trump is sculpted. Trump smashes through the Situationist idea of the Spectacle. He is a phantom limb. Trump is the embodiment of the Reality TV competition, the karaoke culture.

As such, Trump’s lies are edited, dramatic, and compelling. And no truth we counter with will ever be sharp enough to puncture the gauzy film he floats upon. We need to either enter the competition on his level – becoming another vapid contestant on his idiotic progroms. Or we can try to cancel the show.

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