Thursday, July 13, 2017

Trump family on the intersection of politics and pop culture

"The law does not protect idiots" - Artwork by Tarek Chemaly
Recently, a faithful reader reached out to me and asked: "Tarek, why are you covering politics as of late, specifically Trump?" (generic examples here, here, and here),  my reply was "this is not politics, this is reality TV and pop culture". Truthfully, I see very little difference between the Kardashian clan and the Trump family or the White House in general.
Everything is a source of scripted and unscripted drama - so much that the headline churning machine is so fast that a story which happened only a few days back is already stale and depassee - akin to watching Keeping Up With The Kardashians several months after reading everything from TMZ or gossip sites (or more respectable international publications which headlined Kim Kardashian West's robbery in Paris). Actually, if you go to Yahoo, among the headlines, there is an algorithm which assembles related stories next to each other, and so when you click on one only to discover it is only a few days old, you already know it is not worth reading as the news in it already covered by newer shinier things which happened after it.
This has produced instant classics which have already gone down in the pantheon on expressions such as Kellyane Conway (counselor to President Trump) uttering the now unforgettable "alternative facts" (speaking of Sean Spicer - White House press secretary - and his erroneous figures about attendance rates of the inauguration of President Trump), to Sarah Huckabee Sanders (principal deputy White House press secretary) confirming "I can definitely say the president is not a liar" (a reminder of "I am not a crook" as said by late president Nixon, an expression which she came up with when the character of the president was shaded by former FBI director James Comey in his testimony before the Senate Intelligence Committee) which could go on her obituary in terms of her accomplishments, or speaker of the house Paul Ryan suggesting President Trump is "new at this, new at government" after Trump suggested to Comey that he needed his "loyalty". Oh and there's "covfefe" (which according to Spicer the president and a tight circle of people know what it means).
The perpetual breaking news cycle, is stepping on its own feet with headlines changing at a breakneck pace, with not enough space for one to predominate so they end up overlapping. Of course, to late night show hosts in the United States, this administration is the gift that keeps on giving - such as Late Show's Stephen Colbert apologizing to Eric Trump (in the wake of his brother Donald Junior's leaked emails which certify him meeting a Russian attorney in exchange for dirt on Hillary Clinton the Democratic nominee running against his father): "At this point, I would like to issue a formal apology, I would like to apologize to Eric Trump. We always thought you were the dumb one. We were wrong."
If Donald Trump Sr. or Jr. have committed a legal crime according to the laws of the United States is beyond my comprehension (or interest) but the way I look at this is the same way the late Michael Jackson saga unfolded (upon his child molestation trial), or the faster cycle which included Paris Hilton (back when she went to jail for a split of a second) or Lindsay Lohan (back when.... not sure what!), or the mental breakdowns first of Britney Spears then Amanda Seyfried, and the list goes on. Train wrecks which we watch, make fun of, comment upon, secretly enjoy - and even respectable political titles such as Time Magazine have entered this strange game.
Apparently, after electing him Man of the Year in 2016, the magazine is now asking the Trump Organization to remove magazines with fake Trump covers hanging in their gulf clubs.
You can't make this up! On second thought, you actually can!
So to paraphrase the known sentence (whose origins are debatable) "other than that, how was the play, Mrs. Trump?"