Donald Trump’s Cult of Personality


Cult of Personality (Wikipedia):

cult of personality arises when an individual uses mass media, propaganda, or other methods to create an idealized, heroic, and at times worshipful image, often through unquestioning flattery and praise.

With less than 30 days to go in the United States’ 2016 presidential elections, it finally occurred to me what’s really going on. While one candidate is a legitimate but flawed politician, the other has seriously and continuously appeared to be a lunatic that needs mental help and yet has some how managed to make it to the final round of the greatest and most grave stage.
For months, I’ve attributed Trump’s successes to the fringe of society that blindly support their favorite celebrities. These are the people that made Paris Hilton and the entire Kardashian family famous and keep them stuck in the headlines. Most people, I’d wager, don’t give a damn about these celebrities that are famous for nothing, yet none of us can fully escape hearing about them on a regular basis without seeming like lunatics ourselves.

But then along comes Donald Trump, who was given a platform to reinvigorate his celebrity status with The Apprentice. Because he’s been a businessman — successful or not depends on the eye of the beholder — this same fringe celebrity worshipping group takes him seriously and ignores what a terrible human being he is.

That is the textbook definition of a cult of personality. This is why so many Republican politicians got eliminated from the 2016 campaign for president. It had absolutely nothing to do with their qualifications, their platform, or outlook but had everything to do with essentially mass hysteria and the strengthening of the Trump Reality Distortion Field as the numbers in the cult swelled.

And you know what? That’s not even the worst part. In some tiny, unloved dark part of my soul, I actually kind of feel bad for Trump. He doesn’t see that he’s surrounded himself with Yes Men that tell him everything and only that he wants to hear. A Yes Man, as you might guess, only gives positive answers to their employers, they’re enablers in the worst sense of the word. A Yes Man would willingly lie to their boss or champion despite overwhelming facts because it’s their job on the line. As an example, Trump’s senior campaign staff refused to tell him that he lost the first debate for days afterwards, kept feeding him unscientific poll results that told him he won overwhelmingly, and then slowly started informing him otherwise as the week went on. Similarly, one of Trump’s own sons tweeted an electoral count map from Five Thirty Eight today showing him leading Clinton nation wide, when the truth of the map was that it was with a specific set of male only voters. (The map with all voters represented showed that Trump was losing by more than 100 electoral votes.)

The bottom line is that because Trump has been the rich boss literally for decades, he doesn’t have a soul around him to tell him the truth. That’s how he can go out and make bold statements that are completely false, or outright lie… He has no one to set him straight and make it mean something to him. If he doesn’t like what he hears, he fires the person and moves on. There’s no one that can hold him accountable so he has lost the ability to distinguish between fact and fiction. He has lost the ability to be ethical and to make moral decisions.

That’s why that tiny bit of my soul feels sorry for Donald Trump.

While I am a Democrat, I’m not voting for Hilary because I think she’s the perfect candidate. (My candidate was Bernie.) I’m voting for her because I don’t want to see what a country lead by a delusional, detached madman would look like. Hilary was not the best candidate for president, in my opinion, but she’s the best of what’s left. She and her husband have actively helped the black community of which I’m a part, and appreciatively the city of Detroit, which gave birth to me. I respect her ability and determination to do what’s right, and more importantly, she knows what it’s like to work hard for something and to watch as it falls apart due to no fault of her own. Donald Trump, on the other hand, only looks for advantages for himself, and when he fails, his Yes Men make everything alright for him so he doesn’t have to deal with the outcome of his failure.

I wonder how he’ll deal with his failure to become president. How will those Yes Men clean this up?

Castle: A Questionable End


(I wrote this a while back, when it was timely but never posted it. I felt I needed more time to digest the series finale before publishing it, but in the end, I still feel the same. So, here it is at long last.)

Last night, the final episode of one of my all time favorite shows aired, and I came away disappointed. I understand that there were cast problems, or at least rumors of such, in the last weeks of filming, but the whole episode was something of a mess.
The thing that bothered me most about the episode is that both Castle and Beckett not only looked a bit odd but behaved that way too. There was just something about their individual appearances that just didn’t look right, and I suppose it could be traced back to the rumors, whether true or not, of the fights Fillion and Katic had been having. Or maybe it was a deliberate action on the parts of the makeup department in an attempt to show the stress the two characters were experiencing. I can’t say. Hell, I can’t even say what it is about their appearances that didn’t look right. But the characters’ appearances were wrong and there was something about both the script and performances that didn’t gel well either.
The whole episode felt forced, which I suppose it was. The ending was especially bad; while they triumphed over yet another bad guy, both were shot and, in my opinion, appeared to be mortally wounded. Yet, seconds after they clasped hands while bleeding out on the floor, we got an ellipsis, passage of seven years, and little children running about the happy couple’s home.
I don’t know whether to consider that trite, a stab at a choose your own ending storytelling, or an indication that the narrator is unreliable. In any case, the explanations fall short for me.
Though I would have loved to have Castle and Beckett live out their lives with children, everything after them bleeding on the floor rang even more hollow than the rest of the episode.
Frankly, this was not the ending I expected or feel the fans of the show deserved, whether or not the couple lived or died. This was a very u n-Castle episode, and I can only be happy there will be no follow-up to explain what really happened there. Like a novel, the book of Castle is closed for me and I’ll remember the many chapters with great fondness, though I’ll forevermore wish I’d never read the ending.

So, I Didn’t Hate It…


Due to circumstances beyond my control, I was not a part of the Star Wars: The Force Awakens record breaking opening though I did see the film today. I liked it. Like, in fact, isn’t a strong enough word; I was impressed with it. Enough, in fact to see it twice today. This is the first time ever that I’ve paid to see the same movie twice in theaters on the same day. (Albeit, once was in IMAX and the other wasn’t, though both were in 3D.)
My summary is that it was a very enjoyable film and I found no major issues with it. A friend nitpicked a particular point where the Resistance didn’t attack some First Order ships, to which I countered the First Order was kind enough to not attack the Millennium Falcon despite the precedence they set earlier in the film. Nonetheless, that was the only item I think is really worth considering a possible flaw.
There is the presumed death of a major character that I think is worth discussing. Contrary to my normal spoiler laden attitude, I’m going to avoid specifics, but this particular character dies in a fashion that leaves room for debate as to whether he or she is actually dead. The thing is, even though we see the attack that leads to the presumption of death, we don’t see the final disposition of the body and there are two objects at the location that could be escape vehicles. In film, the presumption of death is but actual death; usually the body has to be seen laying dead with on screen to be actual death. Given the actor’s health and age, I think that the character may have actually died despite what I’m saying here, but there’s a chance, however slight the odds, that he or she might have lived. To quote Han Solo, “never tell me the odds”, usually because they can be beaten.
Now to the heart of this post… As much as I enjoyed the film, as good as I thought it was, there was no need it necessity to invalidate all of the expanded universe comics and novels. No need at all. With some relatively minor changes to the movie we got, the film could’ve been consistent with the novels leading up to and including the Fate of the Jedi series of novels without destroying the plot. You could make the argument that FotJ is built on 20+ actual years covering 30+ book years and thus too much baggage to carry into the new trilogy, but then The Force Awakens and its new trilogy is reinventing those fictional 30 years from scratch, and still has to explain what happened. It could be argued that it was too much work to research and properly place all that lore in context in order to write the script, but for the bulk of the Star Wars fans, that lore has been Star Wars since the original run of Jedi ended decades ago, and the effort to include and build on it would have been appreciated so much more than simply giving us a good film. Instead, there are a lot of rabid fans like myself that enjoyed this film, but are sitting on 30+ books that are now completely meaningless. I saw some Force Awakens books at Barnes and Noble, after the second time through, and I couldn’t even bear to read the synopsis because the new LucasFilm, the Disney LucasFilm, is willing to trample all over the memories, dreams and wallets of those that have helped this franchise not only live when there was no hope for new films, but thrive! I can’t abide that by purchasing books or merchandise that would give the impression that I find that forgivable. I just can’t.
Many, many years ago, I accepted that there would be no films beyond the original trilogy. Then Timothy Zahn wrote the Thrawn trilogy (as I call it; Heir to the Empire and its sequels) and I had hope that one day there would be more books and maybe a new film. Lucas then promised the prequels and made them; they weren’t perfect, but I mostly enjoyed them. The books were still there and the films were working in concert with the books; virtually nothing contradicted anything else in the films or the books. The books advanced over 30 years while expanding the events and scale of the characters and conflicts. They delighted and amazed, bringing joy and sorrow and we were thankful for them. Then in one fell swoop, it was all rendered obsolete in favor of the new regime. How can I support that?
I don’t blame J.J. Abrams for it; it probably wasn’t his call or even within the scope of his power or influence though he did build upon the new ground that paved over the Expanded Universe, its creators and writers, and its fans. But I sincerely feel that someone owes those creators, writers, and fans a sincere apology for the loss of both time and money by this abandonment. I think until there is such an apology, there will always be a rift between those of us that supported the Star Wars franchise in the years between the original trilogy and the prequels, between the prequels and the new era, and the new direction of the mythos. There’ll be an open wound that just won’t heal with time.

Jedi Ruined Star Wars? WTF?!?!


I’m writing this post in response to a few of my fellow Cinema Studies majors wrote about on Facebook, How “Return of the Jedi” Ruined “Star Wars” Forever; forgive me for ranting and responding as if I was continuing an already in-progress conversation, because I am. As always, this is my two cents.

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Random Friday Morning Rant


There are two issues on my mind this morning, one of importance to a large number of people, one probably not nearly as many. Well, maybe not in the same way. The big thing on my mind is that there are protesters tying up Detroit’s freeways to complain about the appointment of an emergency financial manager to run the city. The other one, by comparison, is tiny: a few people lost their jobs at LucasArts; although it’s not nearly as important, it does affect a lot of people directly and indirectly. Nonetheless, let’s take these issues in order of magnitude as I see them…

If you’re not familiar with Detroit’s financial struggles, I’ll summarize it by saying there were a number of years after Mayor Dennis Archer left office that were filled with extraordinarily wasteful spending and mismanagement, that combined with the decreasing population, crime, and occasionally hostile relationship with the surrounding communities and state in general led to today’s current financial crisis. The economy tanking didn’t help either. Once mayor Kwame Kilpatrick was forced to resign and went to prison, we were hopeful the city would get better. The interim mayor, Ken Cockrel, Jr, honestly wanted to make a difference, but when he lost the regular term election, he resigned himself to just muddling through like the rest of the city council. When the city didn’t elect him mayor, he basically gave up any hope of improving the city. So as Dave Bing took office, he chose not to do anything to either help or hinder the new administration, and the new administration could certainly have used a lot of help.

Before I go any further, let me state flat out that I believe in democracy. I believe that no one has the right to take away our right to vote and effect changes through the democratic process. I think that Rick Snyder’s emergency manager laws and just about everything he’s done since taking office as Michigan’s governor have been to the detriment of the state of Michigan, and especially to the city of Detroit. So you can clearly understand, I don’t want an emergency financial manager in my city. That said, I don’t want the current mayor or city council either.

In the five years that I’ve been back in Michigan, the mayor’s office and city council, regardless of administration and individuals in office, have proven not only to be inept as managers of the city’s finances, but incompetent in terms of running the city and protecting its citizens. Every time they’ve had the opportunity to make a positive difference for the city, they’ve failed to do so. At every opportunity to protect the citizens of Detroit, they’ve failed to act. Whenever there was opportunity to hire police and fire personnel, they’ve chosen to cut their pay, stretch their hours, and put the blame on them for the city’s inability to meet its financial obligations. Mind you, both of those departments have taken at least two or three 10% pay cuts since I’ve been back in Detroit, not to mention cuts to their pension, health insurance and forcing the employees to pay more of their health insurance costs, eliminating overtime, mandatory furloughs, and more. Yet the city council and mayor get driven around in city owned vehicles, have full time police officers guarding them, and make more money a year than probably any five officers on the streets.

The only things that the mayor and city council have excelled at are mismanagement, inaction, and the inability to set aside personal views and bullshit to do what’s in the best interests of the city and its citizens.

But I still don’t want an emergency financial manager. Frankly, the state owes the city several hundred million dollars, and Snyder is constantly dangling a carrot in front of the city’s leaders in order to get his way. It’s really a shame that the city’s leaders were too busy fighting each other to see that. It’s a shame that they couldn’t have worked together when they still had a legal ability to run the city to fix the problems or at least work together long enough to prevent Snyder’s coup de tat.

But you know what I really hate? I hate that there are idiots out there, protesting the emergency financial manager situation, by inconveniencing the people of the city of Detroit by slowing down and halting traffic on the freeways. They claim it’s raising awareness. Where the fuck have you been if you don’t know that Detroit has been in a financial emergency and that the fucking governor has overthrown this democracy? May God forgive me for this, but every GOD DAMNED CITIZEN IN AND AROUND THIS CITY KNOWS WHAT’S GOING ON, and fucking up traffic for everyone isn’t going to help the fucking situation! Did you learn NOTHING from the Detroit New/Detroit Free Press strike in the 90s when they tried the same fucking thing?  Those News and Free Press employees had everyone’s sympathies until they started fucking with the traffic in the exact same way you morons have been doing. You know what happened? The strike fizzled out because they pissed the rest of us the fuck off! What the fuck do you think is going to happen this time? You’re going to lose any sympathy you might have otherwise gained by making people late to work, miss their planes, and otherwise inconveniencing them. Do protests the traditional way or the modern way. The Arab Spring was started as a series of social network posts; are you idiots so backwards and dumb that you can’t match what those souls overseas did? Fuck! Get a fucking clue already!

In the interests of full disclosure, I have barely left my house in the last week because of work so these “protests” haven’t affected me in the least, but if you’re going to protest, you should do it the right way. You don’t want to piss off the people you’re trying to rally.

Gahhhh!!!

I almost don’t even want to talk about the other subject now… But I will because I feel the need to talk about it…

Earlier this week, I read an article that stated that Disney is closing LucasArts games. I think this is tragic for multiple reasons. Perhaps the most important of these reasons are the employees themselves, who now have to find and secure new employment to support their families in an already tough job market. I wish them all the best of luck. If you have some time on your hands and can afford to not get paid for a while, a friend (who works in the game industry as you do) and I might have some ideas if you want to work together…

But my personal spiel on the issue is that right as the company was free from Lucas’ iron grip for the first time in its history, just as its chains fell away so that it may pursue its own destiny, Disney put a bullet into the back of its head.

I admit it. LucasArts hasn’t been what it once was for a very long time. I believe I made a serious rant about Star Wars The Force Unleashed already. I can’t seem to find it, but I’ll say this about the game: it’s heart was in the right place, but it was a horrific failure in many respects. LucasArts outsourced much of the work to other companies, typically those that were more familiar with one platform or another, but the basic fact of the matter is that the story was strained at best, there were numerous graphical issues, and I beat a Jedi master (boss) on one level because she fell off a platform and I didn’t early in the fight. I stood there waiting for about 5 minutes for the fight to continue, but she never returned and eventually timed out. Yes, that’s a win for the 3 physics engines, but it’s shit game play.

But when I think about LucasArts, I don’t think about the more modern games that it put out. I think about The Dig, Sam and Max, Full Throttle, Monkey Island, Dark Forces/Jedi Knight, X-Wing vs Tie Fighter and a whole slew of games from that era. I think about the imaginative forces that went into creating something that wasn’t necessarily visually stunning, but was engaging and endlessly fascinating. I think about the creative staff and minds that came up with those games, and I wonder what the hell happened over the last decade or so.

Then I think about everything George Lucas has done over the last 17 years or so, and I have my answer. George was a visionary. He was extraordinarily creative, and I love what he created. I hope my own work is one day as loved. But between becoming a businessman and a father, he lost that spark. I have no way of knowing, naturally, but I suspect that the offices of LucasFilm and LucasArts were filled with people that wanted to stand up to him on a lot of issues in a lot of the products they’ve released in those 17 years, but were powerless to do a damned thing about it. I think I mentioned that before. But with the sale of LucasFilm, LucasArts, and so on to Disney, there was a glimmer of hope that these talented individuals could have branched out and done something new. They had the hope of bringing something fresh into the Star Wars universe and perhaps fresh new universes altogether. There was so much potential that had just been unchained… But it’s gone now. In the blink of an eye.

I hear that some of what they were working on might still see the light of day. I hear that some employees will be merged into other divisions. But I think the best thing that could have happened is no longer a possibility. It’s very difficult to bring together a team of talented individuals in the best of circumstances. Given the prestige of LucasArts, the pressure of of working with an outstanding legacy, and having to generally bastardize a lot of the things they idolized growing up… One could hardly say that working at LucasArts with Mr. Lucas himself in charge and overseeing everything was the “best” of circumstances… Yet without Lucas there… They had potential again. They could have branched out and explored other avenues. Done things differently for the sake of doing things differently. But that’s gone now. In the blink of an eye.