She ricocheted onto the stage like a furious pinball, looking for all the world like a young Liza Minnelli, and she did not stop until the end of it all: when she had told us exactly how much she liked us and she had no more songs left to sing. We knew what to do—it was an all ages show, it was what, 10:30? No encores. In a few minutes the venue manager would run outside to tell everyone waiting by the back door to get the hell out of there. (“She’s not coming out to talk to you because I won’t let her. I’m the bad guy! She’s nice. I’m mean. Get in your cars and go home.”)
I watched Carly Rae Jepsen enfrenzy a club full of little kids, their parents, teens, pre-teens, college students that haven’t grown out of their awkwardness yet, middle-aged men who were clearly never going to outgrow theirs, and she did it entirely with her voice.
This is supposed to be about how I’m going to SXSW, and all the great bands I’m going to see there, and all the great tacos I’m going to send to The Great Grill in the Sky, and I’m happy to do that, but first there’s a lot of garbage happening, even for our garbage-encrusted times:
I want to single this out among all the other similarly-toned articles being pushed about politics because boy isn’t it weird that the guy whose modern image sprung from him firing people on TV is maybe the next President and oh gosh how can that be?
It can be easy. Real easy.
“…we’ve never seen this in our lifetimes until now—when politics becomes scary.”
This use of “we”—is this the editorial use? It doesn’t make sense, considering we’ve seen plenty of scary politics in our lifetime, whether you’re 20 or 85. Let’s take the Cold War as a given. That’s 50 years of scary politics already. Since then, we’ve had a drug war, the 1992 Los Angeles riots, NAFTA, skyrocketing higher education costs bolstered by predatory student lending, a full-blown global market crisis, the creation and expansion of privatized prisons, 9/11, three wars, and countless military interventions.
Now if the authors are using “we” to mean “white people”, then that’s probably right. There’s nothing easier for white people to do than ignore the news, no consequences, well none that can’t be blamed on poor people or black people or God or being godless or whatever.
Is Trump going to win the nomination, and possibly the presidency? It’s not even worth speculating. (I read a fan theory today that Trump is only running because the Clintons, who are very good friends with him, convinced him to sabotage the Republican race in 2016. Only it backfired, because now he has all this support, and he’s trying really hard to deliberately make mistakes and change positions so he can drop out, and it’s not working…now I love movies, and video games, and batshit conspiracy theories, and I even love the person that came up with this, but they really need to pull their head out of their Trumphole.) You might as well assume he will win and act accordingly. Get people informed, get them to vote and we (“all of us” we) can elect someone with a nicer temperament and less of a tendency to want to exude open hostility towards every other nation on Earth. Get it right, America: you know we prefer our hostility to be subtle and manipulative.
Even if Trump wins—god, I don’t want to be writing about this for eight more months—it wouldn’t be the first time. To put this in perspective, let’s take a look at some other buffoons who have been chosen to lead entire countries:
Silvio Berlusconi, that free-wheelin’, tax evadin’, office abusin’ hound dog of a Prime Minister entered politics literally to avoid prosecution and financial sanctions in the Mani Pulite (political corruption) scandals that were erupting in Italy at the time. He then dipped in and out of office for the next twenty years, wreaking havoc in so, so many ways. He was criticized by and argued frequently with his estranged wife, often through the press as they would write open letters to each other, both insisting that their marriage remained intact despite Berlusconi’s tendencies towards wild sex parties and his lecherous comments about female political leaders and women in general. As a media owner, he promised to divest his holdings in Italy’s largest commercial broadcast, except he didn’t do that at all, and frequently used his media influence to further his political goals.
He was finally forced to resign (for the second time!) in 2011, and the only reason it stuck is because—remember those sex parties I mentioned?—he was convicted of child prostitution for paying an underage girl for sex. He was sentenced to seven years prison and banned from public office for life. An appeals court later overturned the conviction, stating that he was completely acquitted of extortion and abuse of power, and also stating that while he most certainly participated in child prostitution, that “the fact is not a crime.”
Joseph Estrada became famous as a film actor, starring in over 100 films during his career. He then used his popularity to enter politics, eventually becoming President of the Philippines in 1998. During his tenure, he had no less than five extramarital affairs (all widely discussed in the press), accepted large amounts of protection money from illegal gambling operations, quite possibly arranged for two people to be murdered, and was eventually expelled from office during an impeachment trial, although he insisted that he had not resigned and that the subsequent government was illegitimate.
After all of this, he was convicted for embezzling millions from the government. His successor pardoned him and he later ran for President again in 2010, placing second.
So look, even without jumping to fascist conclusions—which, I admit, seem accurate—there’s plenty of precedent, people make mistakes, so it follows that large groups of people will make large groups of mistakes. It’s just that we here in the U.S. prefer to pretend that this has never happened and that our elected leaders, while prone to the occasional act of philandery or nepotism, are pure, noble-hearted creatures until proven otherwise by a joint commission, special prosecutor, or their own sheer boneheadedness.
So, if you’ve made it this far: be prepared. Pay attention to Trump speeches, as much as you might hate yourself for doing it, because that’s the only way you defeat this: by understanding everything, even when the ideas — like building a wall — are ridiculous.
And now back to SXSW. I’m flying to Austin today. I’ll take some photos, interview some bands, figure out something to say about it that hasn’t been said a million times already, and try not to die from heat stroke or sunburn. Is that enough of a preview?