Tuesday, December 8, 2015

Trump, Hillary, and Madge

When Madonna first broke through in the mid-1980s, I figured that, given her obvious lack of musical talent and her reliance on cheap gimmickry, she was a flash in the pan who would be gone by the end of the decade.  I still believe that.  Because, when you think about it, the eighties never really ended.  After all, we still have Reaganomics, don't we?
And outside popular music, no one has demonstrated how the Reagan era continues long after Reagan left office than Donald Trump.  Trump also became a big celebrity in the eighties, largely for his prowess as a developer and the negative publicity the late and lamented satirical magazine Spy gave him (proving that any press, even bad press, is good press).  And it just dawned on me how much he has in common with Madonna.  Like Madge, he has became famous more for his knack for self-promotion than for his abilities.  But also, like Madge (by the way, when did we all start calling Madonna "Madge," anyway?), he has a special talent for saying and doing outrageous and offensive things that would have destroyed anyone else but becoming more popular as a result and encouraging his admirers to keep coming back for more.  Just as burning crosses in a promotional video, exposing her breasts at a fashion show (as a runway model), or covering Don McLean's "American Pie" has not killed Madonna but has only made her stronger, so Donald Trump has outraged and offended people with his racist, anti-immigrant bashing, his disregard for civil liberties, and his vow to go after families of terrorists and monitoring mosques, yet he's widened his lead in the polls for the Republican presidential nomination.  He's not the de facto Republican presidential front-runner anymore.  He is the bona fide Republican presidential front-runner.
Madge's fans smugly like to boast how their idol has changed American culture, and alas, this is true.  One need only see how cheap and superficial we've become since the mid-eighties, and now our political culture has similarly been infected. But Trump is hardly the only example of that.  On the Democratic side, we have Hillary Rodham Clinton, who's followed Madge's playbook for responding to anyone who susses you out as a fraud - arrogantly defend yourself and let your followers do the dirty work of taking down the detractor.  Back in 1985, anyone who criticized Madonna had to put up with her fans and with critics in Madge's corner accusing them of sexism and musical elitism. The argument went that, after seeing the mantle of World's Greatest Pop Act being passed from one male rock act to another, decade after decade - Elvis Presley, the Beatles, Elton John - male rock fans suddenly went ballistic when the mantle was wrested away by a female disco singer and they hated her for it, and it was this intolerance that was the reason they objected to her and her career so intensely.  The arguments against Madonna - lack of musical ability, blasphemous promotional videos, tawdry gimmickry - weren't even acknowledged.  It was just, Haters gonna hate!  (Madonna was once quoted as saying, "I hate people who hate."  What she meant by this internally contradictory statement was, "I hate people who hate me.")  Well, that's exactly what Hillary - as with Madonna, a single name can suffice - is doing in her presidential campaign.  She defends herself by using her sex as a reason why we should vote for her and evading the arguments against her, such as her coziness with banks, support from Monsanto, helping to lay the groundwork for a trade deal she now says she opposes - while her supporters insinuate that if you're against her, oh no, it's not because of policy, it's because you don't want to see a woman become President!  It's because you're a sexist!  Haters gonna hate!
Meanwhile, Hillary has even made a 79-second campaign video using letters sent to her by little girls expressing hope that she wins the 2016 presidential election and becomes the first female President of the United States.  Such a video wouldn't be so bad if she weren't already playing the "gender card" and if the letters reflected the video's description on YouTube: 
In this heartwarming video, see what a few little girl supporters wanted to tell Hillary Clinton. Their inspiring words remind us there is still much to do to break the highest, hardest glass ceiling for every girl out there.
Yeah?  How heartwarming is a sentiment such as this?
Girls rule, boys drool.  Wow, really uplifting and inspiring, sending a message to girls that it's okay to grow up to be a misandrist.  Oh, that's right, there's no such thing as misandry - women don't hate men!  Well, pardon me while I drool over that for awhile!  
Shallow self-promotion and hiding behind one's flaws by dismissing one's detractors - and Donald Trump has done the latter, too, dismissing his detractors, particularly with other presidential candidates like Martin O'Malley, as losers - maybe that's all right for pop divas (and Madge is still doing it!), but it's not all right in presidential campaigns.  Anyone could confront the Donald and the Hillary and  argue successfully against their dubious presidential bids with little effort.  But if they're going to put aside their arguments and counterattack with immigrant-bashing or misandry, or with belittling their opponents as "losers" or "haters," what can you do?  Hopefully, you can fight back harder.

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