It’s official: politics has morphed with the celebrity culture, and the baby it has created is “Celebrity Politics.” Donald Trump may be its first poster child, but he is only capitalizing on an ongoing trend. And look how fast this occurred: just ten years ago, someone who insulted people as randomly as Trump would have been laughed out of politics, and would not be the Republican front runner.
Blame it on the Kardashians. Blame it on Facebook, Twitter, and Linkedin too, with their focus on friends or followers. Blame it on the proliferation of reality TV shows over the last ten years, and people enjoying these “guilty pleasures;” shows like Real Housewives of Atlanta, where backstabbing and personal put downs are essential.
The difference between the current times and even ten years ago, is that this type of personal assault is not just garnering attention, it’s accepted and even admired by some. In another place and time without television, (i.e. ancient Rome) the populace was entertained and diverted from other real, pressing issues by things like “Bread and Circuses.”
Now we have labeling whole groups of people as undesirable (illegal aliens), calling those who disagree with you “losers,” drooling over the glitzy trappings of money; these values have seeped into the national consciousness to produce, what else: Trump as candidate for president. Whatever the reasons, the sensibilities of the American public are worn down, and what remains, what seems to dominate the dialogue, is the crassest form of personal insult and/or drama, along with an almost hypnotic reverence for wealth.
And perhaps this is why there is no credible force or person to stand up to this leap of celebrity culture into politics: we have at one time or another indulged in, or grasped at this celebrity culture, and thought it amusing and relatively harmless. Let’s be honest: some of Donald Trump’s comments are entertaining. But is this who we want or deserve as President?