Donald Trump, Our Reality TV Candidate
Love him, or hate him, Mr. Trump is the perfect reality-television star. In the various guilty-pleasure/train-wreck formats of reality TV, casting agents are looking for larger than life personalities, who speak their mind and don’t shy away from conflict. They reveal their character through conflict, and the bigger the character, the deeper the conflict, the better the show. In the Donald, “they”, or maybe I should say, “we” have hit the jackpot.
Mr. Trump has built his campaign around an entertaining TV persona. He’s uncomplicated and authentic and you can understand his whole personality from a 15-second sound bite. He is king at self-promotion; think of the Kardashian clan on steroids. His buildings are big and gold, shouting TRUMP in all caps. He has absolute confidence, even in his most wrongheaded opinions and sticks with them, comfortable that his wealth provides evidence for his intelligence.
Political campaigns have their own brand of conflict, but it’s often too subtle for a broad audience. Mr. Trump has cut through all out. His insults have become his signature move. Even when he says he’s holding back – as when he said of Senator Rand Paul, “I never attacked him on his looks” – he still gets a jab in there somewhere: “Believe me, there is plenty of subject matter.”
Reality television has always been focused on the trapping of wealth, from the Real Housewives to the Kardashians and Vanderpumps. They live out peoples’ aspirations, and their mistakes shrink the divide between their lives and ours. Mr. Trump connects with an audience as a sort of rich guy they would be if only they had the money.
Reality shows thrive on big stakes and there’s nothing bigger than the leadership of the number one country in the world. The Donald makes us feel that the future of our country is in peril. But not to worry too much, he’s planning on making “America great again”.
It might be entertaining to watch things in this country implode under his leadership, but one of the great pleasures of reality television is being able to turn it off when you’ve had enough.