The month of October nominated me the political theater reviewer for Fathom magazine, a new critical theater review in Providence, RI. With the election looming, everything continues to concern itself with Donald Trump, like some kind of played out reality TV nightmare.
In my final semester of school at UMass Amherst, before my brief sabbatical from formal education I took a class on Art and Politics. My midterm paper had a portion dedicated to the performance of politics.
Specifically I was interested in the way sartorial standards and expectations (the politician’s costume, if you will) was wielded like a weapon against the Greek SYRIZA government. Their lack of ties and unorthodox dress made headlines, with the EU parliament and the European media happy to police neckwear standards and expectations rather than engage with the economic demands and policy plans put forth by the party.
(Ultimately, SYRIZA has proven to be an ineffectual rookie government, their willingness and ability to affect change and effectively manage the deluge of economic and humanitarian disaster pouring into the country as absent as their predecessors’.
Nevertheless, the IMF and economists around the world have reversed their position on the responsibility and utility of austerity to restore economic solvency. A fact that perhaps should have been addressed when the open-collared politicians stated it at the beginning.)
Meanwhile, American politics has reached the apotheosis of two decades where incremental changes have been made to the accepted performance of politics. Whether it was the moment that Newt Gingrich took over as speaker of the House in the 90s, or when the public accepted a fictitious pretext for a war that has lasted a decade, when the government was shut down for the first time, or the second time, or when in response to the unexpected and inexplicable massacre of school children elected officials explicitly chose to do nothing to mitigate the possibility of another occurrence, or perhaps it was Sarah Palin taking the stage as a Vice Presidential candidate and incoherently providing non-answers to questions posed at the debate.
It could have been any or all of these things, but we now have a man who has made sexually suggestive comments about his own daughter, and whose notoriety is built on fictions spun on both reality and news television.
We have given up on avoiding explicit racism, and forced news casters to come up with synonyms for the word “pussy”–which they felt unable to say, but none the less were obligated by political saliency to address (though perhaps not at the length with which they did). Until enough people got tired of skirting around the issue and made the word an expected part of political commentary.
All we have learned is that there are an infinite number of ways to avoid having to engage with economic and political realities, that social crises of violence against people of color and women and other marginalized communities can be swept aside with the swivel of a camera and that outrage is the least of the sorrows released from Pandora’s box.
How long ago it seems that we were holding onto that last beautiful gift from that same box? What wouldn’t we give for hope to seem like enough?