Monday, August 10, 2015
In 1987, Michael Douglas portrayed fictional stockbroker Gordon Gekko in Oliver Stone’s movie “Wall Street”. This fictional character has come to personify unfettered greed; unfortunately, he also became a “hero” of sorts to a surprising number of individuals who clearly lacked a moral compass… a sad fact that would come back to haunt us all.
In a 2008 speech dealing with the Financial Crisis of 2007-2010, Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd stated that “it is perhaps now time to admit that we did not learn the full lessons of the greed-is-good ideology. And today we are still cleaning up the mess of the 21st century children of Gordon Gekko.” (Rudd was referring to Gordon Gekko’s most famous line from the movie: “Greed, for lack of a better word, is good”.)
Gordon Gekko’s workplace narcissism provides the perfect segue to a discussion of Donald Trump. Trump certainly shares Gekko’s egomania and narcissism, not to mention his sense of entitlement and firm belief that everything has a price. However, Trump brings other “qualities” to the table cast into doubt whether or not he’s one of “Gordon’s kids”. In fact, if there were any “family” connection at all, it might be Trump as Gekko’s buffoonish and embarrassing (four bankruptcy proceedings?) cousin, several times removed.
While Gekko apparently held both men and women in equal disregard, Trump is a world-class misogynist, on a par with Andrew Dice Clay or Adam Corolla. At last week’s debate when FOX reporter Megyn Kelly reminded him that he has labeled women he doesn’t like as “fat pigs, dogs, slobs and disgusting animals”, Trump attempted to joke his way out of it by saying he was referring to Rosie O’Donnell. But as the “Washington Post” reported, comments of this can be traced as far back as 1991. More recently, however, he stated (in 2012) that Arianna Huffington is “unattractive both inside and out. I fully understand why her former husband left her for a man—he made a good decision.” “New York Times” columnist Gail Collins also fell victim to his sexist rants. The Donald apparently objected to something she’d written about him, and mailed the piece back to her-- after circling her face and writing “face of a dog”. Looping back to Megyn Kelly, she also reminded him (last week) that he had once told a contestant on “Celebrity Apprentice” it would be a “pretty picture” to see her on her knees. An advocate of women’s rights he’s not… Presidential he’s most definitely not.
While Gekko never overtly revealed any racist tendencies, Trump paraded his own racist views on the very day he announced his candidacy for the Republican nomination for President when he trashed all things Mexican, and, as he so poignantly put it, “ others” (non-whites, presumably). Coupled with his sexism/misogyny, the Donald has now proudly demonstrated his unique and boorish one-two punch. When he finally makes that decision and seeks a therapist’s counsel, let’s hope he’ll also choose to address those underlying rage/anger management issues.
In the meantime, let’s hope this “real estate mogul” devoid of core values (contributing to the Clinton Foundation and simultaneously stating Sarah Palin would make a great member of his team???) will begin to step out of his beloved spotlight. When even the fictional Gordon Gekko comes across as a far better businessman and potential candidate, the message is clear: give it up, Bozo.
Tuesday, August 4, 2015
This Thursday evening (August 6th), the Fox Entertainment Group will premiere the first installment of what they fully expect will be a blockbuster series. Sneak previews and advance reviews have already won the show automatic renewal through November, 2016. In fact, Fox is hoping this series will become an international sensation, influencing millions for years to come. It may well achieve this goal. However, although Fox intended to produce a drama of biblical proportions—a serious study of the human condition—advance word has suggested it succeeds admirably as farce, tinged with an undercurrent of spine-tingling fear.
Headlining the cast for this series will be “The Donald”, a Kenyan-born caricature of a successful businessman. The pompous nature of this character is a tribute to the screenwriter’s imagination. His allegedly “storied” business career proves to be a fascinating mixture of successes and bankruptcies (picture Bozo the Clown on a bungee ride).
“The Donald” quickly reveals many quirks: he’s petrified of, and disgusted by, women who breast feed (believing instead that women ought to be paraded in antiquated beauty pageants). He’s vaccine-phonic, a climate change denier, and apparently has a serious issue with war heroes; particularly those who fought in the Vietnam War (no, “The Donald” never served).
Joining “The Donald” in this cast is a ventriloquist’s dummy (named “Walker”) who, while initially humorous, quickly runs out of steam. The interesting twist here is that there are two ventriloquists manipulating “Walker”; they are cryptically referred to as brothers, and they somehow cast a dark shadow over the proceedings. Your first impression is that “Walker” may be a humorous simpleton; we see him spouting silly rhetoric about teachers, labor unions, and education. Unfortunately, that’s the extent of his act, and he repeats it incessantly. Quite sad, actually.
“Bush” appears to be the patriarch of the cast (interestingly, there is no matriarch, nor is there any female presence at all in this opening installment). “Bush” seems to represent the very notion of entitlement that he professes to abhor. We begin to wonder about his family life. Does “Bush” have siblings? Are they successful? Is “Bush” over-compensating? Yet, in spite of his obvious flaws, “Bush” emerges as a somewhat well-intentioned goofball of a character; sympathetic where others are not.
In direct contrast to “Bush”, there’s a blowhard Texan named “Cruz”. You know from the moment you lay eyes on him that this guy can’t be trusted. He’s written as a villain, and takes to the role like a pig in mud. You get the feeling “Cruz” would be willing to shut/bring down our own government in order to further his own ambitions—and to hell with the country’s safety!
Next in line comes “The Huckster”. A bass player, a preacher, and oh yes, the former governor of Arkansas. “The Huckster” has been treading the boards for years, hoping to make an impact but seemingly content to sell books when the latter is not feasible (i.e.most of the time). “The Huckster” caught the preaching bug when he worked for a televangelist, though to his credit he served “in person” (as pastor in Pine Bluff and Texarkana for a dozen years). An ardent opponent of evolution, gun control, and gay marriage, “The Huckster” is prone to making outrageous statements that have no basis in reality. Don’t let the folksy charm fool you, “The Huckster” can sling mud with the best/rest of them while invoking the name of God to justify his actions.
These, then, are the primary characters in the new drama. There are lesser supporting characters: “El Rubio”. Dr. Ben, Rand “I-want-to-be-Ron” Paul, Bobby Jindal (usually referred to as “Bobby Who?”) and the delicate, sweet flower from New Jersey, Chris Christie. There also appear to be a myriad of bit players, but their names escape me.
The series has its moments of comedy, but falls flat in short order. The one dramatic moment for this viewer occurs when the realization sets in that these individuals are running for President of the United States. It’s a deeply disturbing and truly scary thought.
For those of you who might be intending to watch, don’t. For our friends and allies around the world, our humble apologies. Avert your eyes, cover your ears, and may we never need to speak of this again.