Donald Trump, Kim Kardashian and the 15-minutes-of-fame effect

Donald Trump, Kim Kardashian and the 15-minutes-of-fame effect
image: lifeandstylemag.com

Donald Trump is the front runner in an otherwise unremarkable field of Republican presidential hopefuls.  Think of him as the Kim Kardashian of politics.

Trump's popularity should surprise no one.  His name is one of the most recognizable on the planet and he is a publicity hound of the first order.

We may be a nation of uninformed voters, but we loves us our celebrities.

I appeared on the Oprah Winfrey Show in 1988 for about 5 minutes.  I say this not to brag (well, maybe a little), but to illustrate my point.  You can see the clip here , if you're so inclined, but it's only incidental to the story.

It was the aftermath of that appearance that opened my eyes to the impact of TV on its viewers.  The personal connection people felt with something bordering on ridiculous was, well, ridiculous.

At the time the show aired, I was managing a band and traveling around the country.  Again, if you're interested you can see that band's MTV video here, but that, too is beside the point.

As I raced through airports like OJ Simpson, I found myself besieged by women of all ages who felt obligated to reprimand me for my reprehensible behavior on Oprah.

OJ Airport

The consensus of opinion was that I should have shown more interest in the girl next to me and been less flirtatious with "O".

Whatever fame or infamy I garnered from that appearance, it was not about me.  It was about the impact of the small screen and the relationship viewers feel with the people that sneak into their homes electronically.

Nowadays, talk show hosts like Ellen, Meredith and Steve Harvey appear in your living room in life-sized images on giant flat screens.

Even so, no one ever had a stronger relationship with her TV audience than Oprah.  When she introduced me, millions of women across the country felt like their best friend, Oprah Winfrey was introducing us to each other.

That is real power.

Kim Kardashian was famous for being famous.  It didn't matter that no one knew who she was or what she did, she was a celebrity.

It's an ever shorter leap from even dubious celebrity to perfume fragrances and a line of bed sheets at Target.

Donald Trump has been assaulting our consciousness for decades.  Like Kardashian, his 15 minutes of fame never ended.  So much a part of our culture is The Donald, that we integrated his catch phrase into our everyday jargon.

image:  speakinggump.com

image: speakinggump.com

Fortunately, "You're fired" went the way of "groovy", "uptight" and "sock it to me."

For now, Trump is the Republican Party's problem.  It's about even money that he will one day be America's problem.

When The Donald was going on and on about President Obama's birth certificate, his eligibility to be president, the legitimacy of his presidency, etc, leaders of the Republican Party just stood back and enjoyed the sideshow.

They're not enjoying it so much now, are they?

As recently as 2004 or 2005, Trump described himself as a Democrat.  He was pro choice and believed in universal health care - which he probably still does.

Now he's a Republican.  He thinks Mexican illegals are rapists, John McCain isn't a war hero and Megyn Kelly can't control her hormones.  The truth is, it doesn't matter what he says, which is why he really isn't saying anything.

It's bumper stickers, cliches and platitudes.  "Make America great again."  How can you go wrong with that?

Nobody's really listening to Trump, at least nobody capable of critical thought.  They just want to hang with "that guy."  The "you're fired" guy.  The "I'm really rich" guy.  The "I'm really smart" guy.

Whartongrad

Has anyone asked to see Trump's college transcripts?

This 14th Amendment thing is an example of the pressure Donald Trump, the personality can put on his Republican cohorts.

No one's repealing the 14th Amendment.  You can actually take that one to the bank, although you won't get much for it, but remember you read it here.

It's a simplistic, asinine idea that lands in the lion's den of the disgruntled like a gazelle's hindquarter.  It's red meat, but it's inedible.

Never happen.

In an interview on Fox's "The O'Reilly Factor," Trump told host Bill O'Reilly that the 14th Amendment to the Constitution is unconstitutional.

You read that right.  According to real estate mogul Donald Trump, the 14th Amendment to the Constitution is unconstitutional.

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O'Reilly tried to explain to Trump that the 14th Amendment is one of the most unambiguous amendments ever written.  He challenged Trump to put his people on it and try to challenge the citizenship of "anchor babies."

Section 1 of the 14th Amendment (also known as Article XIV) says,  "All persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the State wherein they reside."

It's pretty clear and it doesn't matter if you call them "anchor babies," illegals or undocumented bastards.  They are U.S. citizens and you wouldn't want it any other way, lest someone challenge YOUR citizenship.

And yet, as far fetched as it is, riders in the GOP clown car are jumping on the band wagon.  It's just a red herring, but guys like Ted Cruz, Rick Santorum and Scott Walker took the bait.

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Is it just me, or does Scott Walker look like a drunk guy in a "Hangover" movie who just got punched in the face?

So why, you ask are all these floundering candidates espousing Trump's cockamamie brain farts?

It's because that's the only way they can get anyone to listen to them. Trump is like a black hole and he's sucking up every bit of energy available.  He and his 15 minutes of fame are like Peter Parker and the spider.

Blasted by radiation, they are forever fused.  Parker becomes Spider-Man, Trump becomes The Donald.  No one else can get a word in edgewise.

Here's one more nightmarish possibility to consider:  Trump-Kardashian.

If you think that a Trump-Kardashian ticket is beyond the realm of possibility, you are dangerously underestimating the power of fame.

In the spirit of full disclosure, I would have to admit that I will be considering Trump when I enter the voting booth next year, if only for the entertainment value.

What could go wrong?

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