For those of us of a certain age, we could have never conceived of reality television when we were kids. Sure, you had professional wrestlers and the occasional professional athlete that embraced the role of the bad guy, but buy in large, most people off screen played it straight. They were normal people and we understood there was a definite line between the roles they played and their real selves.
It’s hard to say who actually pioneered reality television. Maybe we can give that “honor” to the Kardashians. Maybe we can give it to Vince McMahon. It might have been the series of prime time game shows like Survivor, The Amazing Race, The Biggest Loser, and the Bachelor/Bachelorette.
There is something remarkable when you move away from scripted television and into unscripted television. There is something compelling about the freedom of the individual to embrace that full on persona. Every reality series. Every damn one of them has the villain. No one loves them, but everyone wants to see what they will do next. In competition shows they stay around a lot longer than they should because they ramp up the drama. When they eventually leave they huff and puff about how unfair it is.
I think you see where this is going. On some abstract level we have to give credit to Donald Trump for taking this common character to an uncommon place. He makes Vince McMahon look like an amateur. He makes every competition show villain look like the nicest person you would ever want to meet. He almost makes you root for the devil himself.
Entertainers have become politicians before. Ronald Reagan was the president of the United States. Yet, he did have a transition between his acting career and being president. He was president of the Screen Actors Guild. He was the governor of California.
In a similar way, Sonny Bono and Al Franken also went from performer to member of Congress. Like Reagan, they had spots in between where they made their transition. I suppose it was natural to think Trump would transition. He wouldn’t be the guy that appeared on WWE would he? He wouldn’t be the guy from the Apprentice that just fired people would he? He would realize that he needed to put the persona behind and act like an adult wouldn’t he?
Sadly no, that never happened. He continued to play the part. Some continued to enjoy watching the villain at work. He angered liberals and progressives. He angered women. He angered people of color. He angered immigrants. He angered Muslims and other non-Christians. He angered anyone that supports veterans, people with disabilities, and anyone else in this country that has ever felt disenfranchised. If you are a white, male Christian you are likely none of those things. So, you could just sit back and enjoy the show.
Eventually, most people settled in and realized he would never pivot or become the adult people expect out of the president. Naturally, some people chose to overlook that, but a majority did not. So, when it came time for him to be the adult and admit that a majority voted for the other guy he refused to do that as well. He will play the villain all the way down to the bitter end. I suppose we should give him some credit for being dedicated to the part. Most actors and actresses don’t have that level of dedication.
The thing is that this isn’t a cooking show. This isn’t a dating show. This isn’t a competition show where you can be the apprentice to some overimportant jackass. This is America. This is our home. It isn’t a set on a production studio somewhere. We can’t just leave it and go to our real home whenever we want. I can’t quit this show and move on to the next one. Reality television is never quite real is it? It can be life like, but all of us recognize that it isn’t real life. Maybe, just maybe, those that play a part get lost in it and become that person. When you’ve played the same role since the 1970s, it can become who you are.
So, I understand Trump on some level. He’s committed to this. Those around him don’t have to be. Those in positions of authority in other parts of government don’t have to play along. They can let him rant and rave on camera and off while continuing to do what needs to be done. America needs a president. We need someone the rest of the world can look to and know is in charge. We need someone our own citizens can look to and know is in charge.
Polling data shows that 70 percent of Republicans polled believe the election results are false. They think it’s a fraud. That’s 70 percent folks. That’s an overwhelming majority. So, when Joe Biden becomes president all of those people will be screaming about how he stole it. Mind you, they won’t have a lick of proof because there is none. This isn’t a contested match between Hulk Hogan and Ric Flair. This is real life. When you placate the villain you reinforce that belief. Those numbers have flown to that point. It might be 80 or 85 percent this time next week. It’s time for this show to end.