Sunday, July 2, 2017

Postmodern Day Presidential

George Raymond Wagner, known as Gorgeous George, 1915-63, via Wrestlepedia.

So on Independence Day weekend 2017, in his sixth month in office, President Donald J. Trump broadcast this to the wider world:

The footage, if you need to know, is from the World Wrestling Entertainment network video of Wrestlemania 23, April 1 2007, which featured a Battle of the Billionaires between the champions (Bobby Lashley and Umaga respectively) of WWE executive Vincent McMahon (whose wife Linda is now head of the Small Business Administration) and then reality TV star Donald J. Trump, and originally showed Trump savaging McMahon, in a righteous rage, after McMahon's evil subterfuge of trying to replace the guest referee, Stone Cold Steve Austin, with his own son Shane.

After which Umaga won, of course, and McMahon had to submit to having his beautiful hair shaved off his head. Which you couldn't help appreciating the dramatic justice of, if you were seven years old and refused to believe that the entire event was scripted and staged. My son was eleven, but we still watched, because it was funny, or seemed funny at the time.

A much longer excerpt with audio is here, via Hollywood Reporter:

Trump's son Barron is 11 this year, as it happens, and "can do anything with computers" ("He is so good with these computers, it's unbelievable!"), and it's imaginable that he's the one who doctored the video to replace Mr. McMahon's head with a CNN logo, which suggests a kind of endearing picture of father-son interaction in which the most powerful man in the world takes time to bring his kid into the strange pressures of his life.

Of course it's not true. Also I doubt that the editing would have been quite so crudely done if Barron had done it. Was it paid for handsomely, with our tax dollars, on Bannon's orders, by somebody from Breitbart?

Sadly, not that either; CNN's Brian Stelter finds that it was posted on Reddit four days ago, by a user with the appropriate handle of HanAssholeSolo—

—and tweeted on Trump's account this morning not by Trump, who of course doesn't even know how to include an image in his tweets, but by his social media director Dan Scavino, the guy who got in trouble during the campaign for doing the same thing with an image from the anti-Semitic 8chan /pol/ site portraying Hillary Clinton as a kind of Elder of Zion on a bed of money with a Mogen David at her side. Scavino has known Trump since 1992, as a 16-year-old caddy at Briar Hall Country Club (now a Trump National course) in Westchester, when Trump gave him a $200 tip, and has worked for him since 2004.

A lot of discussion is going to be devoted to the impropriety of the suggestion that it's proper for the president of the United States to contemplate attacking the Cable News Network with his fists, or to use the image to model a vision of how the president is supposed to relate to the news media, or, as the president likes to call them, "the enemy of the people".

I guess I agree that this kind of talk is dangerous and can inspire real violence. I laughed when Trump publicly called on Russian intelligence to search for the deleted mails from Hillary Clinton's private server, I thought it was a really stupid rhetorical gesture rather than an actual request, but it seems to be the case that one very elderly ratfucker called Peter Smith took it seriously and tried to get it done (of course he couldn't have gotten as far as he did in this hopeless quest if his friends in the Trump campaign hadn't been already working with Russians and WikiLeakers themselves). And there really is something like a tide of violence against journalists in the US, one that's led Reporters Without Borders to downgrade our country to a spot just behind Burkina Faso in the rankings for government restrictions and threats against the news media:
“The election of the 45th president of the United States set off a witchhunt against journalists,” it said. “Donald Trump’s repeated diatribes against the Fourth Estate and its representatives — accusing them of being ‘among the most dishonest human beings on earth’ and of deliberately spreading ‘fake news’ — compromise a long U.S. tradition of defending freedom of expression.”
But I'm more impressed and startled by the mounting evidence of what a tenuous grasp these people have of the difference between reality and Reality TV, not just Trump but all his people, Scavino, Kobach, Bannon-and-Miller, and the delusional atmosphere in which they work; like a bad-dream parody of Karl Rove saying "we create our own reality", they don't know whether what they create is real or not.

The great Sopan Deb reminds us of that time in 2007 when WWE ran a storyline that climaxed with Mr. McMahon getting blown up in a limo, and there are signs that Trump did not know this was fiction: he called up McMahon's son-in-law, Triple H, to ask if Vince was OK after the explosion.

What he's doing with the Twitter seems connected to this deficient sense of reality.

Or postmodern, you know. I feel as if we were living in a science fiction novel by Roland Barthes, in which public life is beginning to draw its parameters after pro wrestling, and the president of the United States is Gorgeous George, the handsome heel obsessed with his luxuriant blonde hair (he originated McMahon's stunt of having his head shaved to humiliate him after his loss to Whipper Billy Watson in a 1959 match in Toronto).

Gorgeous loses his crowning glory, via Clash Hollywood.
More, with some more stuff from HanAssholeSolo, from Steve M.

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