Presidency as Performance and Spectacle

Posted: February 19, 2017 in Uncategorized

To have this convo you know I am going to start with definitions.

Spectacle–“a visually striking performance or display”
Performance–“an act of staging or presenting a play, concert or other form of entertainment”
Presidency— “an administration or the executive, the collective administrative and governmental entity that exists around an office of president of a state or nation”

Now that we have established some meanings you already should be able to intimate where my head is at as it relates to what we are currently seeing in the 45th President of the USA.
As a former reality TV star and overblown businessman #45 is continuing performance and spectacle. It is the strategy that got him the office and that will likely keep him in it. As he fills our former news channels with images of himself incoherently (babbling really) addressing what he defines as messes and triumphs one (1) month into his tenure those of us with any modicum of intelligence are becoming increasingly frustrated or indifferent (which is worst).
But I must point out the deliberateness in this spectacle. If he is aware of nothing else #45 understands how branding, publicity and media work or react. It is bizarre to me who spent most of my adult years studying, doing and instructing in media that tweets would not just be features but now the basis of full content and worst yet tweets from a dangerous president. But it is not bizarre to #45 in fact it is going as planned. He bashes the media they cover it, he tweets disses they cover it, he speaks falsehoods they give it legs. You see contrary to a-historical new media consumer’s thinking the audience of your social media is not larger than the audience of traditional media (TV, Radio, Newspapers). The real smarts is to be able to double your audience by incorporating both forms. #45 has determined however sleazily how this is best done. Give them spectacle perform perform perform and traditional media cannot look away they must cover you. So for the past month of the presidency and the numerous months of the election campaign the Performer in Chief has won. Like an accident none of us has looked away. This is actually the bit that leaves me uneasy…how quickly we fall for or get distracted by spectacle.

Why is this dangerous/scary?

At this stage in our history we are in fact witnessing a strategy that is centuries old, that of giving the people what Roman poet Juvenal once coined as “Bread and Circuses”. Here Juvenal can be taken very literally and in fact the most confusion we may have is whether #45 has only given circus so far or both. To answer that…he has given both. Combining his rallies, promises and Executive Orders you get your bread and circus.

The entertainer in chief first offers promises and some dangerous/xenophobic rule changes to the hungry audience and then he overloads them with the circus.
The bread is multi-grained. “Saving” the Carrier factory, well kinda! Unprepared meetings with world leaders, veiled threats to other leaders, saying “America first” enough times. The circus is a multi-act multi-level spectacle in this case from “Declaration of Fake News” to “Electoral College celebrations over and over”, to “job saving rallies”, to botched launches of everything from Muslim bans to healthcare changes.
What is dangerous here is that “we the people” do not actually gain any new ground. Coal jobs are not coming back to to “rust-belt” heck I just reposted an article this week which indicated that China is halting orders of coal from North Korea this year. If you know how much coal China uses you would understand how big that news is ( estimate 200 million kg per year). Speaking of news this is where the danger lies…while the news reports mainly on the spectacle we miss the substantive news about what actually is real. Instead they aid #45 in telling the people what he determines as “truth”. Ignorance is our slow death!
Let us be extremely aware of what Juvenal had pointed out many moons ago. As we get caught up in his current performance of the presidency a continued erosion of what the people should have/posses is afoot and whatever pithy returns we get were already taken before.

I pause here because attention spans are shorter than my thoughts on this topic.


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