Is Donald Trump Ready for 21st Century Technology
Trump and the Media
Do you think Trump uses his tweets responsibly?
A Confession Before I Start
I have a small confession to make. This article was the byproduct of another article I was writing for another publication. When I’m not writing for Hubpages or making short stories to make people question their sanity, I’m writing for the Echobase site.
Truth to tell, these guys are great. It’s a fantastic symbiotic relationship we have. They let me write about geek culture, comic books, and stuff best kept on the Starship Enterprise and I get to say I work with some of the finest geeks in the business.
Really, go there. You’ll be impressed.
The one thing I have to do regularly is check myself to see that I don’t write about anything too controversial. It’s one thing to choose a side in the Piccard versus Kirk debate, but it’s quite another when you start screwing around in the current political arena.
In this case, I wrote about two comic book characters that were based on Donald Trump. The article is completely factual and I made sure to cover my sources. What I couldn’t do is stop my natural snarkiness from invading my prose like World War Two Nazis into Poland.
I won’t lie to you; I’m incredibly biased against the forty-fifth president. I lull myself into peaceful dreams as I envision carnivorous piranha-like fleas infesting upon his armpits. So long as I dream about these things, it keeps me from a vacation in a padded cell.
The article you’re about to read is a byproduct of my attempts to dial back my vitriol for that article.
What I wanted to do was demonstrate that due to eighties technology and information access being so primitive, men like Donald Trump could rise in success like a giant puss filled pimple from a greasy acne prone teenager without benzo peroxide. When Trump exploded onto our public consciousness back in the mid-eighties, we just didn’t have enough alcohol to keep his special type of popularity from spreading.
The very last thing I wanted to do was embarrass the site owners and that more than anything kept me rewriting the article until it was tame enough to paw an infant without it crying. It’s not entirely free from snark, but I think it’s good enough for government work.
On the whole, my point was that due to the press’s limitations at that time, a man like Trump could rise to celebrity popularity and successfully conceal many of his more distasteful dimensions from the public. Living in a pre-internet universe where the media was limited to print, television, screen, and nightly news was a double edged sword. If you were a politician, people were more likely to take what you said at face value. Fact checking was something that came with US News and World Report and Face the Nation.
With celebrities, a good biography like, Trump: The Art of the Deal could serve as an autobiography, manual for success, and hard cover public relations tool. This whitewash gave Trump the star power he needed to make him a household name.
What the public had were political cartoonists and comic book writers to keep celebrities in check. Back then when we went to late night television comedy, all we really had was The Tonight Show and David Letterman. And those guys were tame compared to Stephen Colbert and Jon Stewart.
The thing was that a man could make public perception work for him and use many of the limitations to business practices to his financial advantage. So much so a man like Donald Trump could manufacture the image of him being a financial genius through the perception of his “hard work and canniness” before people could dig deeper and discover a more realistic picture.
Where Trump is Vulnerable
Technology That Exposes It
Lying to the press
Scopes.com and any other fact checker
Debates on television
Wikipedia and other news sources on the Internet
Facebook and Twitter
How Times Change
We live in a complex age.
Information and business move nearly at the speed of thought. Thirty years ago, when a person would spend days in a library to get simple facts and figures, the same information is easily gotten at the touch of a smartphone.
Back in the eighties, a man could leave work at five o’clock on a weekday and comfortably expect his work day to be over until the next morning.
In 2017, it’s a different story.
That same worker can leave his office until business needs and developments could have him spend hours of his commute trying to put out fires – if he doesn’t turn around and go straight back to his office.
We live in a world where facts, figures, and analysis can be done on the fly through technology and software. Thirty years ago, a businessman could take advantage of the natural processing delays in cashing checks and mail delivery.
Those days are over. Through technology and information processing our work life can get very intrusive. The same can be said about how the media gathers information and can do fact checks.
While Trump may have a point about the media’s intrusiveness, it is a fact of life. The investigative journalist grandchildren of Woodward and Bernstein have exponentially greater resources to uncover the truth. Video footage of a newsworthy character can be compared to current facts faster than a reporter can say “Youtube”.
The legend of Donald John Trump's business acumen would have died a miserable death had it been put under the same scrutiny we have today. Today’s technology and fact checking, with just using Google, won’t allow wild exaggerations or a public that would accept things said at face value.
Our technology demands better ethics from our leaders.
The truth about Trump is now accessible to anyone who has a search engine. The public doesn’t need to read Trump: The Art of the Deal. Anyone can easily discover that not only did Trump NOT WRITE that book, but the original ghost writer David Schwartz said if he were to have written it today, he would have retitled it The Sociopath.
Fact-checkers would know about Trump's six bankruptcies as well as his standard anti-defamation clauses built into almost every contract where anyone who has had dealings with Trump must obey a gag order – never to speak ill of him.
The differences between Trump's biography and reality would also reveal how his “small loan” from his father was one million dollars back in 1978 where Drumpf’s father not only lent him that money but also bankrolled his first major venture in building the Grand Hyatt Hotel in Manhattan to the amount of $90 million dollars for construction costs.
When we look at people under a magnifying glass and can see their flaws plainly, they become less legendary and more real. Trump is an imperfect being.
Where thirty years ago, an embarrassing press conference would be glossed over until the evening news, today with Youtube, we can not only watch that conference multiple times, but we can go over every lie and imperfection in it.
The comics took a look at his public persona back in the eighties and nineties and drew a caricature very much in the same tradition of Thomas Nast did with Boss Tweed. The public persona of Trump was different from the reality – only the public had no way of knowing that.
The lesson we get from Donald Trump's legend comes with the moral we learned in the 1962 movie, The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance. When the main protagonist who had made his reputation as “the man who shot Liberty Valance” was, in fact, not the shooter at all, the press decides that when the legend becomes the fact they print the legend.
In the 21st Century, our legends cannot survive the onslaught of information from the internet and therefore facts will continually kill the man who shot Liberty Valance.
The Duties of the Artist
Contrary to some politicians, it is the artists’ role to speak their minds.
Artists and writers are the barometers of where we are as a civilization. Not every artist and writer is right in what they write and create. That being said, in a free society, we have the right to write and create, regardless of what the ruling class thinks.
Comic book artists, as well as cartoonists, have long been at the forefront to show their views on civilization and politics. Yes, Thomas Nast drew uncompromising cartoons of Boss Tweed. Back in the 1860s, that kind of thing could get a man killed by a crooked mobster politician. In societies where censorship is out of control and the people find they have no voice, we find that the more these sentiments are suppressed the larger the backlash there is toward the suppressors.
It’s not supposed to happen in a free society.
So, when we look at figures like Donald Trump through the eyes of the comic book writer and the political cartoonist, it is not just a statement of the artist’s opinion – it is a test as to how tolerant our system is toward criticism. Sure, we can read any political cartoon in Newsweek and see how well it can draw Trump as a bloviated gasbag and we can watch Alec Baldwin in a fat suit scowl at a camera for ten minutes in a skit and laugh. However, in the end, it is the artists, actors, and writers that embrace their freedom in that they can do these things.
The eighties were a simpler time. It was when information was not as accessible as an internet search and when the public’s memory was as short as a dwarf with Alzheimer’s disease. We treasure our rights and freedoms as Americans. That’s why the first amendment of the Constitution is, indeed, first.
Comic books and comic artists want to create a lasting impression, even if it’s just making a popular figure seem over the top or illustrate them in a way they hadn’t been seen before. Trump in any of these portrayals can be seen in any of these lights.
I am not the first writer to say that art imitates life and also that life imitates art. Comic books do this regularly. Why? The artist feels it’s his responsibility to grab the observer through his emotions rather than his intellect. Whether this emotion is humor, disgust, or revulsion, we only know if the artist is successful if it leaves a lasting impression.
If you are looking to the health of a government, look at how well it tolerates its journalists, writers, performers, and artists.
Comic books and graphic novels are great, because they provide people with a medium that does not require a lot of imagination. The pictures are drawn, the facial expressions emote what the character is feeling. We don’t need to picture characters in our head to know what they look like. The mind sees these images and digests them easier. They hit people at a base level.
Graphic novels are important because they are art. For anyone who doesn’t believe that, I merely direct them toward a healthy reading of Alan Moore’s V for Vendetta, Art Spiegelman’s Maus, or Anthony Lappé’s Shooting War.
Seriously read any one of these books and if you come away from them unchanged, you can call me a liar.
© 2017 Christopher Peruzzi