existential threats

Interesting bits and pieces of the George Stephanopoulos interview with Comrade Trump had been scattered all over teh Intertubes over the last couple of days. So I decided to watch the interview on television.

Okay, I need to digress for a moment. I don’t watch a lot of television. I like television and I’d like to watch more of it, but there’s just so many other things to do. I watch a couple of hours of television a night (except, of course, when the World Cup is on; I watch the hell out of that). And when I say ‘television’ I generally mean something on Hulu or Netflix. I can’t recall the last time I watched a show on commercial network television. Until last night and the interview with Comrade Trump.

It was awful. I mean, Trump was Trump — a despicable human being incapable of relating to any aspect of life and the world around him except through a lens of how it affected HIM. He lied, he was arrogant, he denied reality, he asserted ‘facts’ that didn’t exist, he kicked his own acting Chief of Staff out of the Oval Office for coughing during the interview, he accused his so-called ‘enemies’ of treason, he maligned President Obama, he said the Director of the FBI was wrong in stating that political figures should report contacts from foreign nations who offer ‘dirt’ on political opponents, he claimed to be ‘an honest guy’, he insisted he had polling data that showed he was winning ‘everywhere’, he accused his former White House Counsel of lying under oath, and he complained that he’s been treated more unfairly than President Lincoln (who, it’s worth remembering, was shot in the back of the head).

It was, as I said, completely awful. But here’s an indication of how Comrade Trump has normalized lying, hypocrisy, victimization, and the abuse of power: to me, the most shocking thing about last night was how completely and irredeemably horrible commercial television is.

It was an hour-long show purportedly based on thirty hours of material of which maybe 40-45 minutes of actual interview was presented, and which was routinely interrupted in order to sell products. The commercial interruptions were not only annoying and disruptive to the flow of the interview, they were LOUD. And stupid. And repetitive. There were, for example, at least two commercials for some sort of miniature golf-based game show.

Think about that for a moment. An interview in which the President of the United States makes a number of startling admissions that in ordinary times would lead to immediate impeachment proceedings is interrupted to promote a sort of celebrity miniature golf contest. How fucked up is that? (Hint: pretty fucked up.)

I make an effort to expose myself to a variety of political opinions; I make an effort to have a variety of experiences; I make an effort to avoid the existence-in-a-bubble mentality that I believe makes communication so difficult between folks who hold different opinions. But it turns out I do live in a sort of bubble — a non-commercial bubble.

I don’t know how anybody could process any information or narrative in a meaningful way when it’s presented in the way commercial television presents it. No wonder we live in such a fragmented, disorganized, disruptive, and jangled society. And no wonder Comrade Trump is able to get by with so much bullshit. The whole experience left me struggling to properly place Trump’s unabashed awfulness within a context of luxury car adverts and mini-golf promotions.

After we impeach the motherfucker, we need to think about addressing commercial television. It’s also an existential threat to society.

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9 thoughts on “existential threats

    • I don’t know…the cat that lives here takes great and repeated pleasure in knocking the tv remote off the end table, so I’d argue that television has some entertainment value.

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  1. The last time I watched commercial television was Obama’s first inauguration. Haven’t turned it on since. And it was bad back then. I hear you, brother.

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    • I do like to watch the local and national news on commercial television a couple times a week. Not for the news itself, but to get an idea of the level of news most folks get. There’s a definite tendency to ‘both sides’ reporting, which undermines the malignancy of the Trump administration.

      Almost as bad is the way ‘happy’ news is framed. I often see ‘heartwarming’ stories of communities that come together to help one of their unfortunate members — all of which focus on how good people are while avoiding any mention of the social conditions that caused the problem in the first place. A news story about folks pitching in to buy a new wheelchair for somebody who can’t afford one is NOT a heartwarming story; it’s a story of economic inequity and governmental irresponsibility.

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  2. Reblogged this on It Is What It Is and commented:
    It was beyond awful … ‘It was awful. I mean, Drumpf was Drumpf – a despicable human being incapable of relating to any aspect of life and the world around him except through a lens of how it affected HIM. He lied, he was arrogant, he denied reality, he asserted ‘facts’ that didn’t exist, he kicked his own acting Chief of Staff out of the Oval Office for coughing during the interview, he accused his so-called ‘enemies’ of treason, he maligned President Obama, he said the Director of the FBI was wrong in stating that political figures should report contacts from foreign nations who offer ‘dirt’ on political opponents, he claimed to be ‘an honest guy’, he insisted he had polling data that showed he was winning ‘everywhere’, he accused his former White House Counsel of lying under oath, and he complained that he’s been treated more unfairly than President Lincoln (who, it’s worth remembering, was shot in the back of the head).’

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  3. I stopped watching commercial TV a long time ago. I moved into a new apartment this past March & Direct TV was included with the place … all I had to do was hook my Smart TV to the cable. So I did. I tried watching the local news but turned it off. In a half-hour of “news”, it was maybe ten minutes of actual news & twenty minutes of commercials. & even the “news” was really commercials for local events going on in the area. I’m so glad I have Netflix & Hulu & Prime … no commercials, no BS. No wonder people are so unable to focus on ANYTHING at all. Even the old TV shows like Perry Mason only had a few commercial breaks. Not like now.

    Most of the time, though, the TV is off & I’m reading a book. Or a blog like yours.

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    • There’s a LOT of good television out there. More than I have time to watch — largely because of books to read. And people to talk to. But lawdy, commercial television is truly appalling.

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  4. A few months ago I switched to a new internet provider in order to get faster speeds. They offered a package that included free basic cable television. Having cut the cable a few years ago, that wasn’t a service I wanted or needed, but since it was free, I took it.

    And I’m glad I did — because I’m a massive World Cup fan and if I didn’t have free cable (all the matches are on Fox Sports channels) I’d have been spending WAY too much time in sports bars, which are my least favorite type of bar.

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