Chained to Trump's Rhythm
Last week, Katy Perry released “Chained to the Rhythm.” After a performance at the Grammys and setting a first day record on Spotify, the song debuted this week at number 6. “We’re living in a bubble, bubble,” Perry croons. “So comfortable we cannot see the trouble, trouble.”
“So put your rose colored glasses on, and party on.”
“We’re all chained to the rhythm, to the rhythm, to the rhythm.
If life seems different since January 20th, maybe that’s because it is. Daily living has become a reality show since Trump took office. "I used to say I feel like he’s crashed through the TV into our real life," Alison Hearn, an associate professor of information and media studies at the University of Western Ontario told the Chronicle of Higher Education. "But now it’s more like he’s pulling us all through the TV screen into his spectacular delusions."
We’re not working 8 to 5 at the factory, eating TV dinners, and watching Walter Cronkite at 6 o’clock anymore. The President says the press is dishonest, producing “fake news.” Judges are not pillars of society, they are “so called.” We’re living in social media ether, trying to make ends meet, and leaving worries about retirement for another day. Oh, fiddle-dee-dee, who is our president scrapping with today?
Reality television, despite bearing no relation to reality, has shaped Trump into a man for the age, the reality TV age. "Reality TV is ‘reality’ only in that it looks real but in fact is often scripted or at least highly planned, and only the most outrageous statements and actions get past the cutting-room floor," says Mike Johansson, a senior lecturer in the School of Communication at the Rochester Institute of Technology. "Therefore, it reinforces extreme behavior."
So, what’s an attention seeking president to do? Tweet at 3 am. Harangue a major retailer for dropping his daughter’s brands. Pick a fight with a judge, the CIA, the FBI, a senator, or anyone that will make news. Conflict makes for a good story and a good story keeps people watching. Trump doesn’t want to be commander in chief as much as he is craves being ogled in chief.
Trump turned his selection of Judge Gorsuch into a prime time spectacle. The president “might as well have been Vanna White turning over a square," Danielle Lindemann, an assistant professor of sociology at Lehigh University, says. The unveiling relied on the spectacle of game shows, she adds.
The citizenry and the courts must stay on its toes at all times as the president invokes a flurry of executive orders. Like any real estate developer Trump is in a hurry, will force legislation just to see if someone stops him.
Ms. Hearn believes we are all apprentices and Trump is the boss. In her piece, “Trump’s Reality Hustle” she explains,
Of course, promotion and branding are in the DNA of reality television. Beyond the tales of home renovations, pawnshop owners, or botoxed rich ladies, the message of reality television has always been that life should be a non-stop entrepreneurial adventure involving the pursuit of multiple revenue streams predicated on the savvy deployment of virtuosic communicative and image skills.
Craft a persona, grab attention and break the rules, says Hearn. As she points out, Trump crafted his message to the lowest common denominator, for instance saying the word “win” 14 times in 40 seconds during a campaign speech.
Since the explosion of social media everyone must create an image, “cultivate a reputation, and monetize themselves by developing legions of followers or subscribers; these days, achieving a reputation for having a reputation has come to seem as reasonable a life goal as any other for many people,” writes Hearn.
“Given this,” explains Hearn “it may be a mistake to see Trump supporters as dupes who have swallowed his manufactured “winner” hype, and more correct to see them as hip to his masterful skill at creating and manipulating the hype to his own advantage. This would explain why no outrageous action or statement seems to stick to him or diminish his support.” We’re all hustling and shilling like The Donald. It’s part of the new reality. Life is one big episode of Survivor.
Those protesting hate the insecurity of the new reality age. They want a job for life, a home, free college education, and whatever else their pussy hats desire.
“In the ‘hall of mirrors’ of a promotional culture,” writes Hearn, “there is no truth or morality, only ‘winning’—attention, market share, allegiance, and votes. For Trump’s followers, his brand is his substantive skill set and all the qualification he needs to become president.”
When asked by a an Israeli reporter about the rise of anti-semitic action here and abroad since his election, Trump went on about winning 306 electoral college votes and how there will be lots of love during the next three, four or eight years.
His answer to an annoying press is, I won and you’re dishonest.
Meanwhile the stock market seems to love Trumps World. Day after day of new highs. Peter Kendall, writing for Elliott Wave, mentioned that five months after the February market peak in 1966, the Beatles released “Yesterday,” with McCartney singing “Yesterday, all my troubles seemed so far away. Now it looks as though they're here to stay.”
As the Fab Four captured the change in mood in ‘66, Kendall writes that Perry’s catchy tune “seems like a perfect fit with the split personality of [today’s] social mood.”
We’re all chained to Trump’s reality world rhythm, for now. I for one, see the trouble, trouble.