Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Donald Trump: W.W.E the people ... by gimleteye

In Harper's Magazine, Naomi Klein writes an important analysis of Donald Trump, "W.W.E. the people". It is especially insightful in light of the past days' trauma, first instigated by racist and Nazi protesters in Charlottesville, Virginia and compounded by President Trump's statements in response.

Klein has Trump's number; the know-nothing, narcissistic savant of infotainment reality television.

Since the election, we’ve heard a few mea culpas from media executives acknowledging that they abetted Trump’s victory by giving him such an outsized portion of their coverage. Yet the biggest gift to Trump was not just airtime but the entire infotainment model of election coverage, which plays up interpersonal dramas between the candidates while largely abandoning the traditional journalistic task of explaining how different candidates’ positions on issues such as health care and regulatory reform will play out in voters’ lives.

Trump didn’t create the problem — he exploited it. And because he understood the conventions of fake reality better than anyone, he took the game to a new level. He didn’t just bring the conventions of reality TV to electoral politics — he mashed them up with another blockbuster entertainment genre also based on cartoonishly fake performances of reality: professional wrestling.

It’s hard to overstate Trump’s fascination with wrestling. He has performed as himself (the ultrarich boss) in World Wrestling Entertainment appearances at least eight times, enough to earn him a place in the W.W.E. Hall of Fame. In a Battle of the Billionaires, he pretended to pound wrestling kingpin Vince McMahon, and then celebrated his victory by publicly shaving McMahon’s head in front of the cheering throng. He also dropped thousands of dollars in cash into the audience of screaming fans. Now he has appointed the former CEO of W.W.E., Linda McMahon (Vince’s wife), to his Cabinet as the head of the Small Business Administration (a detail that has largely been lost amid the daily scandals).

Like The Apprentice, Trump’s side career in pro wrestling exposed and endeared him to a massive audience — in stadiums, on TV, and online. Pro wrestling might be invisible as a cultural force to most liberal voters, but W.W.E. generated $729 million in revenue last year. And Trump did more than pick up votes from this experience — he also picked up tips.

As Matt Taibbi pointed out in Rolling Stone, Trump’s entire campaign had a distinctly W.W.E. quality. He carefully nurtured feuds with other candidates, and handed out insulting nicknames (Little Marco, Lyin’ Ted). He played ringmaster at his own rallies, complete with over-the-top insult-chants (“Killary,” “Lock her up!”), and directed the crowd’s rage at the designated villains: journalists and demonstrators. Outsiders would emerge from these events shaken, not sure what had just happened. What had happened was a cross between a pro-wrestling match and a white-supremacist rally.

Bear in mind Klein writes these words long before the Charlottesville tragedy.

Many observers have noted Trump's deterioration and mental confusion. One sign of dementia is receding into the character traits that represent one's anchors to reality. In Trump's case, the noted "doubling down" on support for Alt Right, Nazis, and racists is simply a factor of no belief held more deeply than the use of the pro wrestling format to separate and to objectify villains and heroes. To Trump, he is the hero he talks about in the third person. Nero said this, Nero did that. In itself, that is unhinged and far below the dignity of a national elected official much less a president.

The villains, though, are just like the tag teams in a pro wrestling contest. They are either good or macabre and frequent shifts of roles is expected by the paying audience who are, when all is said and done, vastly entertained. This is Trump's default view of reality; without any values except what happens inside the ring.

The ring, in this case, is the United States and international relations with sovereign states. They should think more of him, he believes, and come to him on bent knee and in praise like his cabinet officials. After pleasantries, all can retreat to the high dollar seats ringside and watch Donald Trump double down on the nation and the world's problems with views that are bizarre, strange, dangerous and archaic but above all, ready to be slammed down and bounce up just like the good old days, before he was president, and had the world of pro wrestling on a string.


Anonymous said...

Interesting view of this. My view is simple. Nazis believe in killing people just because they were born different from them. Six million Jews killed just because they were Jews. And the president of the United States believes in this philosophy of dealing with different kinds of people and supports people who believe in killing everyone who is not like them? NO! We have gone low, but not that low. He must go.

Anonymous said...

If that is how Nazis deal with people not like them, then they would mass kill not only millions of Jews, but also Hispanics, Blacks, Chinese, Indians, Muslins, and anyone else not like them. Anyone who stands with Trump must feel this way too!