Politics & Media
Mar 28, 2024, 06:28AM


No more rug burn on the campaign trail 2024.

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It’s almost April and not a peep from an otherwise all-political pop culture. What’s the news? Israel’s continued assault on Gaza has paralyzed both major parties while a brutal conservatism grows in Generations Alpha and Beta. Who knows who’ll be the ones to end it all? Unlike the last eight or nine years, ever since Donald Trump reared his ugly head, Bernie Sanders improbably inspired a nation of millennials, and Hillary Clinton did everything she could to lose. Politics surpassed entertainment, fashion, and sports in our pop culture pyramid, and which side you were on—whose “team”—was no different than picking a haircut, or a certain type of jacket to signal who you were to others.

What’s so disgusting about the recent past is how many noble causes have been taken up and tossed away like so many trinkets and fashion statements, whether it’s police violence, sexual assault, gender conformity, or racism in America. Whatever guilt is being exorcised still comes out toxic: Clara Jeffries calling black people “magical,” others, during the summer of 2020, pledging to “use their precious white skin” to protect black protestors. This was the psychosis the Democratic Party latched onto, in the absence of a black hole presence like Trump. The right can cycle through all of their pet obsessions and phobias and use Trump to make it all moot; after all, he’s going to get the nomination, so what’s there to do or talk about until then?

Ditto Biden: if you weren’t already turned off by first three abysmal years of his presidency, then he’s probably lost you by committing, predictably, to Israel over Palestine. Only an idiot would’ve expected otherwise, but if you’re not paying attention—and most people aren’t—then Biden’s cold-blooded refusal to acknowledge or stop what’s happening in Gaza must be a new day rising for some. Nothing new can be gained from this knowledge, for Trump would’ve certainly done the same thing, if with a few more clever turns of phrase and bizarre malapropisms and pieces of physical comedy bordering on performance art. Trump wouldn’t/couldn’t stop Israel from doing what they want to do any more than Biden can, and if he wins in November, he’ll be in the unenviable position of having to agree with the Democrats: they will turn the Middle East into a plate of glass.

And no one’s paying attention precisely because they can’t do anything. If that lesson wasn’t already learned in 2014, or 2015, or 2016, or 2017, or 2020. Our government will tell you the sky is blue and demand you call it purple. Your love is fading. It’s all a means of testing what’s possible, what combination of disorders and phobias and neuroses could produce a totally willing populace, one without independent thought or action, one mass organism controlled by talking points and a moral barometer that uses the personal lives of artists and entertainers as a means to police the behavior of private citizens. Fucked Up Beyond All Repair—as Katt Williams recently said, “Seldom does the word ‘randomly’ appear in this universe.”

—Follow Nicky Otis Smith on Twitter: @nickyotissmith


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