Resembling the cover of The Beatle’s album “Revolver”, where the lads are caught and knotted in their own shaggy coifs, the GOP candidates are getting tangled in Donald Trump’s egotistically driven, big headed do.
Set for December 27th in Sioux City, Iowa, the Republican lads and lady haven’t been competing so much with each other to gain center stage as attempting to delicately disentangle from The Donald’s massive showbiz style.
Trump, who rode into vogue in the 1980s and during the Reagan era Republican revolution, has built his own personal brand like one of his enormous towers—made of a steely cold structure with an outer reflective glass one can’t see inside. Only the light from the cameras is able to illuminate this giant media star, whose facade frequently appears distant and on the verge of collapse, only to reappear reborn and channeled into an ever-present parallel mediaverse.
It was back in those go-go ‘80s, as yuppidom was hip, suits and suspenders were in and Absolut flowed with the upward economic current, that Trump became the iconic epitome of wealth and excess. With greed being good, he turned the businessman into a celebrity on an equal stratosphere with the stars. By building Olympian skyscrapers, often on shaky credit, his countenance was inserted onto the cover of the tabloid media and poof he became a golden god.
Peering with perspicacity into that very same era, in 1985, long before there were iPhones and anyone and everyone could be a celebrity by posting their faces on Facebook, Neil Postman revealed what was behind the glass tube of television and wrote the definitive account of that period’s information age.
In “Amusing Ourselves To Death”, he describes how television deemphasized the quality of information in favor of satisfying the far-reaching needs of entertainment. News and facts and ultimately reality, became subordinate to the shiny veneer of style. Prophetically, he coins the term, “talking hairdos” to describe television news anchors as the embodiment of seriousness turned trivial.
Indeed, with Mr. Trump and his stylized hair arrangement supplanting a real news anchor in the proposed upcoming debate, it’s as if Mr. Postman’s prognostication will be played out. By having Trump, himself an undeclared aspirant to the highest office in the land and a host to a reality TV show “The Apprentice”, hold the cards of the contestants and debase this debate, it’s further evidence of the culmination of entertainment mocking an ever-increasing mask disguised as authentic news.
Seen through the eye of ION Television, a network originally christened PAX NET after Lowel “Bud” Paxson, co-founder of the Home Shopping Channel and known, at one time, for airing Christian programming and infomercials, it will now aid in deciding between the dry look of Senator Rick Santorum and Newt’s need for Grecian Formula. Stranded in the strands of this folly and left bewildered, will be viewers, of which the network boasts some 99 million homes, observing a salon of fewer hairstyles than originally anticipated (where’s Sy Sperling when you need him?) through the follicle of cable TV.
Sensing both the circus effect and Trump’s overwhelming hot air that could blow dry away their own cosmetic transplantation of facts, the quintet so far shedding the act will be Utah Governor Jon Huntsman, Texas Congressman Ron Paul and Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney, Governor Rick Perry and Rep. Michele Bachman. They must realize the risk in attaching and sullying their message on this flimsy medium.
Strung across the original dusty jacket of Postman’s book is a photo of that other icon of the 80’s, President Ronald Reagan, looking straight on and with the believable confidence that defined his term. But with a tweak to any and all seriousness that the office stands for, the man, who was once an actor, deridingly dons a red clown’s nose.
While he justifiably mocked the medium of television and the man who used it to his advantage like no other with this design, I wonder what caricature, given cyberspace and its millions of web strands, if the Chia Head wouldn’t be the more apropos model for today’s White House contenders and their showman.
Abe Novick is a writer and communications consultant and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.