Wednesday, January 27, 2016

The Farce Latitudes (cont.)

It is apparently good op-eding to propose that D.Trump is rolling the dice by skipping Thursday's FUX debate, to which I say banana oil. He thinks he does not need the Angry News Network to win the Iowa beauty contest going away, and he is absolutely right.

Our hero is running a cult of personality, drawn from the legions of mad, sad, and bored among us who find his way of expressing half-bright frustration with current events vivifying, and somehow related to politics.

Know who else has been running his own personality cult, albeit one far more sophisticated, and with shareholders? It is old Roger Ailes himself, who has seen some real success modeling the FUX News brand very much in his cynical, mean, and calculating image.

And here, let me observe that his genius was not injecting right-wing politics into infotainment, only making television's essentially rightest message, of monied spectacle, conformity, reassurance, and repetition, completely manifest. FUX is Huntley and Brinkley, Gunsmoke, Laugh-in, 60 Minutes, and Friends reduced to essentials and presented with a conservo-candy gloss many over 65 find irresistible.

But Roger has been, eh, ailing lately, and by some accounts acting out his industrial strength paranoia, until now mainly kept at home, at the office. The ongoing culture collapse of rightist America has finally hit its cable solar plexus, and the brain connected to it seems occupied elsewhere.

My main rule in life is that things are fine right up until they are not fine. Corollary to that is that now when things collapse they collapse fast. I did not think that the Trump campaign would be so fatal to the needs of FUX news, but I guess those needs have become just as self-contradictory as those of the party it presumes to promote.

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

The Farce Latitudes

The fascinating phenomenon of D. Trump sends so many signals, on so many different levels, that it's VERY hard to decode just one. A little-understood reason for his popularity, cultivated by his TV show, is how he services both the national ideal of self-regard, being the individual in command, and the American reality of self-loathing, the punished server, at the same time.

The self loathing, of course, appears on TV cloaked in other messages, those having to do with a willingness to entertain, a belief in craft in service, and an overall obedience to superiors. I am thinking now of all those cooking contest, and talent shows, which along with the more business-motivated embarrassments like The Apprentice send the message to those of us at home that our existence is precarious, our daily bread reliant upon obeying the commands of demanding, self-involved martinets. Now the more cynical of readers might say that that is, in fact, the way of the world; and, yes, I guess on some level it may be so for a lot of business conducted in the republic. Never mind that a great many viewers find the embarrassment and disappointment of the contestants on these shows to be worthy entertainment for a putatively free people, the message delivered also proposes that this humiliation is normal, deserved, and entirely okay.

Another signal the aptly-monikered Trump is sending is that there is no Republican Party, as such, anymore. But even attempting to redefine the entity would distinguish it as a coherent body, and I don't think that's the case. The sleep of reason, as Francesco Goya proposed, produces monsters, and GOP reason has been in a REM state for a long time. Their worst instincts, blinkered and capricious, are now made flesh, and a demoralized segment of the population is enchanted by it.

The good news is we will discover later this year how small that segment really is.

We got here because some defining values of the militant American Right, of unregulated flinty independence, supreme confidence in belief, and resolute self-dealing, have no unifying qualities whatsoever, and that taken to their logical ends, which you usually reach after 35 years, are fatal guiding principles for any social enterprise, which, alas Ayn Rand, political parties fundamentally are. Down at the personal level, the true believer who somehow comes up short in life, obviously as a result of weakness and personal failings, finds self-hatred easy and natural; though needful to direct outwards.