“Win if you can; lose if you must, but cheat always!” ~ Gorgeous George
Back in the late 1940s a 215-lb, five foot-nine inch professional wrestler of modest talents smashed the paradigms governing professional sports and entertainment forever. In 1947, he probably accounted for more sales of the new contraption “television” than all of the celebrity entertainers, ball-players and politicians combined.
George Wagner, AKA Gorgeous George, dyed his thick wavy hair platinum blonde, donned sequined robes and was preceded into the ring by a valet who sprayed perfume and disinfectant ahead of the One and Only. His in-the-ring persona was a foppish, likely queer man, who would almost certainly rather cheat than win. He was professional wrasslins’ first and ultimate heel. He was the guy working folks paid their hard earned money to hate. He rendered the time-honored notion of “fair play” passe.
Also, no doubt, the popularity of his flamboyant persona was not lost on a generation of entertainers and athletes — celebs such as Little Richard, Elvis, Muhammed Ali and Ric Flair got it. And might The Donald be another?
Years ago I recall some psychiatrist saying that Gorgeous George played a valuable role in our nation’s mental health. He said something to the effect that folks could vent their pent up feelings of murderous rage by hating and yelling at the gorgeous one instead of acting it out with real people in their daily lives. Gorgeous George became the ultimate object of the defense mechanism of displacement. The public’s angry, unacceptable feelings were harmlessly discharged at George on the 14-in black and white screens in their living rooms.
Fast forward seven decades: Okay, today, who is the contemporary equivalent of Gorgeous George for the American public, the mainstream media and for that matter, the whole wide world?
Well, that was too easy. The Donald of the bleached blonde ducktail has supplanted cheating in the ring with confabulation, lying and mean spirited tweeting — and in the process he’s become the man millions love to hate. The bottom line is that it’s his version of reality that matters the most. And that fact drives his enemies completely craaaazy. He has probably legitimately earned 60 or 70% negative stories in the news media. But 92% is ridiculous. Even so called journalists buy into his shtick. They take what he says and what he tweets seriously. They are late-comers to the game. The joke is on them and they still don’t really get it. But what they do dimly grasp is that he is the story — and they are not.
And is who he is as Chief Executive of the Free World not just an extension of his Apprentice show persona? I did not spend more than a few minutes channel hopping on viewing The Apprentice but I gather that crushing the dreams of some little guy the audience had come to identify with was part of the show’s appeal — waiting for, or perhaps dreading, the words, “You’re fired!”
With a ridiculous unqiue pompadour wave even before his hair had thinned, The Donald had branding down to a science decades ago. He was a celebrity even before he became a billionaire or a presidential contender. He had a knack for garnering headlines and talk show interviews. He made big deals and he talked even bigger. He became the Gorgeous George of real estate development and big business. He became THE show and along the way acquired plenty of enemies and more than a few admirers.
So in the interests of both science and mental health we must ask if the Gorgeous Donald of 2018 has the same functional role in our nation’s psyche as George in 1947?
Probably not: The late-1940s were a time too proximate to the real life horrors of WWII to allow the willy-nilly sale of assault weapons to assorted cranks who had mental health issues and a grudge against humanity. However, it was a time when most homes had a shotgun or hunting rifle to help put food on the table. It was an era before social media and 24/7 infotainment could spread hate like the plague and allow a garden variety nutcase their 15-min of fame. In 1947, folks could hate and boo and throw stuff at their villains — harmless stuff. Today they have the will and the means to massacre them.
Lying is not really lying when you believe what you’re saying is true — especially so in this era of fake news. I will see your fake news and up it with my own fake story. And losing isn’t really losing when the visibility of your branding goes up. I also think The Donald’s popularity/loathing continuum has become sort of a barometer of our nation’s collective mental health/cognitive dysfunction. I have blogged several times about Trump Derangement Syndrome (TDS). It is real; it’s not going away– and in fact it seems to be spreading.
Unfortunately, Trump has inspired the Antifa goons and other assorted left-wing organizations to destructive, violent acts. They march, smash windows, dress in black, wear masks and publicly harass their perceived enemies — behavior eerily reminiscent of Hitler’s fascist Brown Shirts and SS. And they feel quite self-righteous in the process of spreading their anarchy and hate. Reality becomes particularly dissonant when the extreme left accuse conservatives and Republicans of being the real fascists.
As for me, I’m kind of over the hyperbolic madness of 2018. I long for a time when our villains were harmless caricatures like Gorgeous George, our real foes were the Commies, newspapers employed journalists and were the primary source of news and TV was an innocuous form of entertainment. I long for life writ small and black and white like the television of seven decades ago.