‘The Apprentice’ Nominee


My contention for many years now that politics and entertainment were becoming inextricably intertwined has proven itself scarily true in the presidential candidacy of Donald Trump, as of this writing the presumptive GOP nominee. It’s like a reality show meets some sort of horror series in which the brains of too many American voters are infected with a stupidity virus. And I, for one, am scared s**tless.

Oh for the days, back when I lived in New York City, when Trump was primarily a local celebrity, a bit of a cartoon character that the wonderful and sorely missed Spy magazine regularly referred to as a “short-fingered vulgarian.” Even then Trump showed his notoriously thin-skinned ego by dismissing the magazine like a scorned child. And even today he continues to send pictures of his fingers to Spy founders Kurt Anderson and Graydon Carter with notes scribbled on them saying, “Not so short.”

Spy saw the writing on the wall regarding Trump back in the 1980s. And one really has to wonder about someone who can hold a grudge for decades over a little playful lampooning. Among what I think are the qualities that Americans should look for in a potential president is the ability to shrug off insults and laugh at oneself. (See Barack Obama for a lesson in how to do this with class and savior faire.)

We cannot discount the role that television had played in the rise of Donald Trump. The success of The Apprentice not only made Trump a household name but fed his obviously psychotic egotism and pathological narcissism to the point where he believes he should be the leader of the free world.

I saw bits of it a few times, once watched The Apprentice pretty much all the way through. (Oddly, I also knew a woman in New York City who became, in a way, the first “apprentice” when she left her job at a record company to work as Trump’s assistant on the building of the Trump Tower.) As a “reality show” The Apprentice was downright surreal. But it sure as hell succeeded in promoting the fiction that this smarmy developer with multiple bankruptcies and failed ventures in his past is some sort of business genius.

Say what you will about the guy, he does have one very clear and effective talent: getting media attention. He’s a stunning object lesson in how pathological narcissism can gin up the attention it needs. And how, as I have long said, that fame is the most addictive and dangerous drug on the planet.

I write this as – finally! – the mainstream news media is beginning to step up and question the man’s outrageous statements, crackpot notions and outright lies. Politics has become entertainment and so has news. And news outlets in a variety of mediums trying to make a go of it in the modern digital media environment have given over an inexcusable amount of airtime and space to Trump as they slavishly chase ratings and readership rather than the truth.

Is this any way to run a supposed democracy? No matter how potent the Trump “brand” may seem/be, the man shouldn’t even be allowed into The White House on a guided tour, much less become its resident and the nation’s chief executive in the Oval Office.

Television had the power to make us smarter yet seems to be one of the contributing factors in dumbing down American society. Same can be said of the Internet. Both are mediums that Donald Trump, reality TV star and likely Twitter’s biggest twit, has used to his advantage. His sick compulsion for gaining attention was made for our wired and WiFi’d modern age. But his Neanderthal personality, lack of basic human values and childish temper and vengefulness will hopefully lead to his undoing ... via TV and the Internet.

Populist Picks

Books: So Many Roads: The Life and Times of The Grateful Dead by David Browne – Longtime entertainment journalist and author Browne quite efficiently leads readers onto the “long strange trip” of the 1960s psychedelic rock band that created a cult of followers by keying in on pivotal moments in the band’s career and writing the stories around them. His engaging prose and love for the band’s music impels the reader to listen more to the group’s music.

CD: Stranger To Stranger by Paul Simon: It’s rather amazing, really, how dynamic, productive and forward-thinking that the 1960s folk-rock icon still is at the age of 74. What is his 13th solo album keys in on rhythm as its starting point and treats listeners to an engaging sonic cornucopia and set of wonderful and witty songs. Sure, not quite as much a pop music album as Graceland, but still a delightful listening experience.

TV: The Path – This Hulu original series reminds me of The Leftovers with its portrayal of a cult not unlike Scientology (but far less evil). Smart, quality television; it did loosen its grip on my attention a few episodes in, but I know I will return to follow it through.

Rob Patterson is a music and entertainment writer in Austin, Texas. He edits www.bestclassicbands.com. Email orca@prismnet.com.

From The Progressive Populist, July 1-15, 2016


Blog | Current Issue | Back Issues | Essays | Links

About the Progressive Populist | How to Subscribe | How to Contact Us

Copyright © 2016 The Progressive Populist

PO Box 819, Manchaca TX 78652