"Whenever I go into a restaurant, I order both a chicken and an egg to see which comes first"

Thursday, April 20, 2017

Life’s A Stage, Hollywood Is Our Real Capital, And Washington Only A B-Movie Backlot Set–The Ascendancy Of Donald Trump

No self-respecting East Coast liberal would ever subscribe to People Magazine; but only look circumspectly before picking up a copy in the dentist’s office; and never get truly into the wicked pleasures of Hollywood bodies, paramours, and Caribbean vacations except in waiting rooms, hair dressers, or airport lounges.



Only there could such a liberal enjoy the tales of marriages, breakups, pregnancies, children, and ex’s, a temporary fugitive from hyper-concerned Washington; and with no guilt follow the escapades of the Kardashians, J-Z, Brad Pitt, Angelina Jolie, and Scarlett Johansson.  He could, without a thought of climate change, economic inequality, or racial divisions, wish he had Matthew McConaughey’s abs, Jack Nicholson’s cool, or Paul Newman’s absolute, indefinable, but irresistible masculine charm. There he could imagine making love to sweet Scarlett in the rain in Match Point, winning Amy Adams as Justin Timberlake did in Trouble with the Curve, taking on Charlize Theron in Mad Max or Sigourney Weaver in Alien. 

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All the women of cinema are the fantasy lovers of such ordinary, hopeful, traditional men.  They woo Bette Davis, Ava Gardner, Marilyn Monroe, Ingrid Bergman, and Catherine Deneuve; fight with Sylvester Stallone, travel down the Congo River with Humphrey Bogart, triumph as The Terminator, and win and lose tragically like Paul Newman in The Hustler.

Hollywood, Bollywood, Istanbul, Teheran, Cairo, Mexico City, Madras – these are all more important centers of cultural life than Washington, Paris, or Bonn could ever be.  Political capitals can only manage B-move re-runs of intrigue, war, and international conflict.  For the real thing, only the movies satisfy.

Ben Hur, Gunga Din, The Longest Day, On the Beach, From Here to Eternity tell the real story of heroism, courage, adventure, and glory. Charlton Heston, Gregory Peck, and Burt Lancaster are remembered more than the real battles.

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The point is that not only do we admire and long after the heroes and starlets of Hollywood, we want to be them.  Our adolescence has never ended.  We have never made or even wanted to make the distinction between reality and fantasy.  We would rather be Superman, Wonder Woman, The Flash, Batman, or Jason Bourne than Jimmy Carter, Barack Obama, or even Winston Churchill.  These men may have had gravitas and influence on the course of history, but they are far from our fantastic ideals. 

Donald Trump comes close.  He is President of the United States, but he is also a creation of Hollywood and Las Vegas.  He, his yachts, and his estates have nothing to do inside-the-Beltway culture.  His women have nothing to do with Rosalyn Carter, Pat Nixon, or even Nancy Reagan.  He, his family, and his retinue are closer to the American fantasy ideal than any other occupants of the White House. 

He may be no courageous leader like FDR, may have no Camelot, knights-and-ladies romance of the JFK years, nor any of the down-home charisma of LBJ; but he has glitz, showmanship, braggadocio, and sheer chutzpah of a Hollywood star, and that's good enough for most of us.

Few care if he has political or public managerial experience or whether he has issued policy papers or developed a coherent, rational foreign policy  Arnold Schwarzenegger, Sylvester Stallone, Matt Damon, and John Wayne never had a counsel of ministers or parsed foreign communiqués.  They knew the difference between right and wrong and acted!

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Few care if he is sensitive about women’s issues when he has a gorgeous model wife, has the loyalty of a beautiful daughter, and squired beauty queens.

He has ridden around and given wide berth to issues of climate, social equality; racial, gender, and ethnic justice for decades; and his judgment is based on long-established principle.  He understands that societies will always be divided and subdivided and are never equal.  He sides with the majority and acknowledges the pre-eminence Western civilization.  Where would we be if  it wasn't for ancient Greece and Rome, Persepolis, Great Britain and the efflorescence of Western culture?

For him Ben Hur, The Robe, The Longest Day, Lawrence of Arabia, and War and Peace are the true realities – Hollywood epics which depict the essence of courage, honor, and heroism regardless of romantic retouches.



In other words President Trump and ordinary Americans are in perfect harmony.  We have to read People Magazine to follow the exploits of the stars; but he can do it in person.  He knows Don King, Madonna, Clint Eastwood, and Helen Mirren personally.  No need for dentist office wannabe love affairs.  He can have the real thing.

We don’t begrudge him this access because we would do the very same thing if we real estate and Hollywood moguls or President of the United States. 

John Kennedy slept with Marilyn Monroe, Hollywood starlets, and international beauties.  We would do the same thing. 

LBJ used the Secret Service as procurers and watchdogs, and thanks to the complicity of the press, did his tomcatting with no public scrutiny. 

Bill Clinton had trailer trash mistresses and Oval Office affairs and every one of us would relax and enjoy the pleasures of White House interns if we were President.

War with Russia or North Korea will never be Star Wars or War of the Worlds, but it is sure that anyone with only a brush with Hollywood can only imagine future warfare as comic book drama. 



We would win, of course.  Victory would be achieved in glory.  We would be generous to the defeated but be lords over evil domination

The liberal Left is appalled by Trump, his Hollywood paraphernalia, his Las Vegas showmanship, and New York comeuppance.  They have no idea what to do with a man so antithetical to reason, good sense, practicality, temperance, and concern.  To them he is a buffoon, grotesque caricature, and vaudevillian clown.

Yet such a perspective ignores the facts.  Americans no longer care about white papers, policy pronouncements, and talking head observations.  We have given up on all that long ago.  We have embraced Hollywood, fantasy, and virtual reality long ago.

Donald Trump is, in the words of Freaks, “ One of us…one of us…one of us…”





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