When I read any headline related to Donald Trump and his obnoxious statements, I'm reminded of this quote by British playwright David Hare: "The most dementing of all modern sins: the inability to distinguish excellence from success."
Trump is symbolic of our culture's embrace of the Celebrity Personality, someone who's famous for being famous. Trump is in the same category as Kim Kardashian, Paris Hilton, the cast of every reality show, and the list goes on. It's frustrating as an artist to see many people having trouble separating quality from visibility; sure, Trump made a name himself with his businesses but is that true "excellence"? If Trump chose profit over any other motive, should he be admired?
Hare was on point when he wrote "dementing" in that quote. It's mind-boggling to see the trashy celebrated over the talented; the reality star over the politico in the trenches. But hey, in a world when The Terminator can be Governor of the largest state in the U.S., why should I be surprised, right?
I'm not saying anything new, but this praise of the Personality still gets under my skin. I never would have thought Trump would be the GOP nom, let alone have a sliver of a chance to win the election in November. But it's a very real possibility, thanks to the lacklustre appeal of Clinton compared to other Dem candidates from past election years. And that's scary as fuck.
Call me agonizingly optimistic, but I like to think we have the Spidey sense to spot bullshit when we see it. Don't we all see the mask for what it is, a way to fool us into thinking someone is more impressive than what he actually is? How can Americans not see Trump for the successful - sure, I'll give him that - bullshit artist who is adept at manipulating the media and America's love of being afraid of the unknown?
We're having a facepalm moment this year. Um, this century. We have to cut through the haze of the Celebrity Personality to find the true outstanding achievements. Otherwise, we'll be wallowing in mediocrity like a wading pool of gold-covered sludge.
What do you think...Where else is Hare's quote relevant today? Let me know on Twitter via @SilverbergDave
About David's Blog
My musings about the arts, Toronto, technology, journalism, sports.