The three-man rock band Living Colour in the early 1990s rocked out in insane fashion on their most famous single, "Cult of Personality," in which they sang about citizens of the world being mesmerized and borderline brainwashed by various charismatic leaders throughout our planet's history, only to have those leaders take everything from them and destroy their lives.
The three-man rock band Living Colour in the early 1990s rocked out in insane fashion on their most famous single, "Cult of Personality," in which they sang about citizens of the world being mesmerized and borderline brainwashed by various charismatic leaders throughout our planet’s history, only to have those leaders take everything from them and destroy their lives.
The song every time I heard it qualified as a major volume knob cranker and I particularly enjoyed the song’s accompanying video with all its political imagery. Guitarist Vernon Reid absolutely goes on a shredding rampage near the end and, well...it's just a tremendous song blessed with an endless shelf life because it conveys a lesson and a message that - you knew this contention was coming as soon as you read the first sentence of this column - should resonate perfectly in the United States right now.
A few frustrated people elected Donald Trump president because of his personality. Sure, they'll claim it was because he's supposedly a successful businessman - who's gone bankrupt multiple times, been sued countless times, sued others countless times, but, whatever...we need to run government like a business - but it was his take no prisoners, say and do what he wants personality that won their vote. But in reality, Trump is just another in a growing line of unqualified, overmatched politicians. In the campaign, he said that he and he alone was going to do all of these incredible things, and put an end to all these other things that he said were terrible, but he’s been stymied on most fronts. And why? Because it’s all more “complicated” than he thought. What is this, freshman algebra?
Trump is a celebrity more than a personality, which is probably the real reason he was elected. If Living Colour's song was to have maximum impact as part of a re-release in 2017, the band should change the lyrics and the chorus to "Cult of Celebrity" because that's what people who don't know nearly enough about the issues that are critically important to them and their family's future are obsessed with. They know what lipstick the Kardashian ladies are swearing by these days and whether or not that was really cocaine on Kim’s coffee table in that video she posted, but they don't seem willing or able to realize that the man they voted for in the presidential election – or, more likely, they didn’t vote at all – happily and willfully lied directly to them on multiple occasions during the campaign and after the election.
Too many people don’t know, and too many people don’t care to know.
Hey, I get it. We witness people accomplishing things or otherwise performing feats of varying degrees of excellence on TV screens, movie screens, computer screens and phone screens - acting in a movie or series, singing a song, dancing, acting, making amazing athletic plays - and by definition they become celebrities. They’re famous because they are known by the multitudes. If we happen to cross paths with any of these people in person, our hearts do maybe skip a beat and we enjoy an adrenaline rush as we gasp, "Oh my god, there she is!"
But if we react in stronger fashion than that, our common sense gene is muted and our perspective becomes skewed. And if as part of that we make the stretch that these people are so multi-talented that they'd be able to seamlessly make the transition into a successful political career, well, that's an awfully poor reflection on us.
Without a doubt, absolutely, we are beyond fed up with our congresspeople. Only 11 percent of us think they’re not god-awful at doing their jobs.
But, really, have we reached such a sad-sack state that we're going to follow up electing Trump the most powerful person on the planet by electing someone like Kid Rock a Republican U.S. senator from Michigan in 2018? Like Trump, Kid Rock says what he wants to and tells it like he thinks it is, but he's horribly unqualified to make decisions that affect millions of people's lives. Kid Rock's most successful rap/rock song is called "Bawitdaba," the chorus of which goes something like this:
"Bawitdaba da bang da bang diggy diggy diggy
Shake the boogie said up jump the boogie
Bawitdaba da bang da bang diggy diggy diggy
Shake the boogie said up jump the boogie…"
This celebrity obsession has only gotten more intensely out of whack with today's technology that gives any random person at any random time a chance for his or her 15 minutes of glory and/or infamy when they turn the phone on themselves or someone turns the phone on them. So many countless things now go "viral" on a daily basis that the evening network news has added a daily "Caught on Camera" segment. It's not news, but there’s video of it, and it’s so tantalizingly easy to report on, no research or follow-up required.
Our nation’s in-over-his-head leader interrupted his golf vacation this week to threaten North Korea with nuclear annihilation. It made me think of the final words from Living Colour’s song, a recording of President Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s iconic quote, “The only thing we have to fear is...fear itself” from his first inauguration.
No offense to FDR, but right here, right now, we have plenty more to fear than that.