I have rarely been as physically repelled by another human being as I am by Trump. The person to whom I would compare him is Jimmy Savile, whose fake blond hair and predilection for bling are only the most superficial of many similarities. Sure, you wouldn’t catch Trump with a cigar in his mouth unless a prostitute had pissed on it first, but consider the gold.
We’ll have a problem with verb tense here, so let’s stipulate the ever present trauma caused by both and stick to the present
Both are predators who happily boast about their predatory behaviour, knowing they were safe from consequences. Most importantly, both have been enabled by others, particularly in the media, who stood back and reaped the rewards of letting these men operate. Neither would be described as book smart or intellectual, but both have a kind of reptilian cunning that they use successfully to manipulate people.
Both make my skin creep, and I don’t just mean since we found out. I’m one hundred percent sure I’m not the only person who found Savile creepy, back in the 1960s and 1970s. Watching Top of the Pops with him on was like staring into a vortex of wrongness. I hate the fact that such wrongness is often termed Lovecraftian, as if that kind of horror is reserved for white supremacists, but there it is.
Savile rubbed up against Thatcher for the opportunities it gave him, and Trump of course is a plain vanilla fascist. It’s just a shame, isn’t it, that the internet cried wolf with their Hitler comparisons for so many years? Because when the real thing came along, everybody ignored it.
What I’m most interested in, as a recovering Media Studies teacher, is the way that these predators were created by the media. Trump was given a platform by the producers of The Apprentice, and in spite of his clearly repellent personal qualities was allowed to develop his personal brand and then use it to spread his lies. Savile was protected and promoted by the BBC which it has since become clear was an organisation that repeatedly turned a blind eye to its many sexual predators, from Rolf Harris to Frank Bough. Saturday night “family” entertainment was so often given over to nonces that the mind boggles. “Following the accusations made against you, we have no option other than to give you your own prime time entertainment slot. You can go on before the Black and White Minstrel Show.”
Trump’s media enablers extended into what we used to quaintly term “New Media”, and his fascist organisation was given a home on Twitter, Facebook, and other places where he could get access to the information-poor people who became his mob.
Last week’s Capitol putsch was the most predictable event since someone placed a marshmallow in front of a three year old with poor impulse control. Not only did people predict it, and see it coming, but the event was telegraphed in advance by the events organisers. Ever since, “Some very fine people on both sides,” this has been the obvious endgame. Even for the chronically short-of-memory, it has been on the cards ever since, “Stand back and stand by.”
So nobody was surprised, especially those whose job surely it is to watch political events unfold. And yet it happened. And was immediately followed by the tappety-tap-tap of paid opinion havers.
I can only conclude that as “shocked and appalled” as people have claimed to be, they wanted it to happen. Just as they wanted Savile on Jim’ll Fix It, just as they wanted Trump on The Apprentice. They wanted the rolling news, shocking-scenes-from-inside-the-capitol: for the ratings. For the clicks. For the engagement.
If Trump didn’t exist, it would have been necessary to invent him. Except, of course, that’s wrong: he is an invention. The big pink fake hair blinged up cartoon villain demanded by the insatiable appetite of the smiling beast that consumes us.