TRUMPED: REALITY, REALITY SHOWS, AND REAL TV – REDUX – TOM CURLEY

And now that the election has come and gone and Donald Trump will shortly occupy the White House, this post from last March seems even more relevant than it did when it was first published. What is Truth? What is Real? Have we slipped sideways into another dimension on an alternate Earth where everything looks like it used to, but it is something else. Something sinister. Weird. Scary.

It’s almost 2017 and I’m more than a little bit lost.

Marilyn


Ellin and I were on a brief ski trip a couple of weeks ago up in Vermont. We learned three things.

  1. We are still not too old to ski.
  2. Gravity is a harsh mistress.
  3. It’s getting harder and harder to figure out what’s real and what’s not.

Let me explain.

We were on our trip on a Tuesday. One of the Super Tuesdays. I forget which one because they’re all Super now. We’re both fascinated by this incredibly bizarre presidential campaign, so of course we were watching …

house of cards

indiewire.com

House of Cards on Netflix. We love that show.

In between binge watching episode after episode, we’d check in on the (real) election coverage. And that’s when I noticed that on House of Cards, the characters are constantly on CNN with Wolf Blitzer, on MSNBC’s Morning Joe, CBS This Morning, and so on. All this stuff is shot on the actual news sets with real people playing themselves — while reporting on a fictional presidential campaign.

I’m not going to reveal any spoilers, but this season’s episodes were filmed way before the actual election began. Despite this, the show (House of Cards) contains a lot of surprisingly prescient plot lines.

We sat there watching CNN, MSNBC, CBS and all the other news shows interview and talk with Frank Underwood as he brilliantly manipulates the government and the world to get whatever he wants.

Then we’d change the channel to watch CNN, MSNBC, CBS and all the other news shows talk — with Donald Trump — where they were debating whether or not Trump has a large penis.

trumphands

washingtonpost.com

Then, a bunch of pundits complained this (real) campaign is nothing more than a bad reality show. They are correct. The Republicans are currently trying to throw their leading candidate off the island, but inextricably, he keeps winning the immunity idol.

immunity idol.jpg

survivor.wikia.com

The other questions everyone keeps asking is “How did a reality show star end up running for President?”

Good question. But I know the answer.

It’s all Dan Quayle’s fault.

dan quayle

businessinsider.com

You remember Dan Quayle, the guy who was George Bush Senior’s Vice President, don’t you? Dan had a reputation for not being the sharpest pencil in the box.

He was famous for misspelling potato as “potatoe” at a campaign stop at an elementary school in 1992.

quayle potatoe

Dailyhaymaker.com

Most people have forgotten the other important thing he did.

He started a fight with Murphy Brown.

brown3

cloudpix.com

Murphy Brown was the fictional TV journalist and anchor. Played by Candice Bergen, she headed the cast in a 90’s sitcom about a fictional news show called FYI.

In one of the late seasons, she got pregnant and was going to be a single mother. Quayle gave a campaign speech (real) calling her out as being against “Family Values” because she didn’t have a husband. Murphy Brown was “mocking the importance of fathers” (an actual quote from Quayle’s speech).

quayle v brown2

uselectionatlas.org

Here’s where it got brilliant. The producers and writers of the show didn’t put out a statement denouncing his speech. They had Murphy Brown go after Quayle on the television show. It made front page headlines (real) all across the country.

quayle v brown1jpg

dykewriter

So, now you had Dan Quayle fighting with — and being mocked by — a fictional character on a fictional show. And he fought back. In real life.

Pretty much nobody said “Has anyone noticed the Vice President of the United States is fighting with A FICTIONAL TV CHARACTER ????”

No one appeared to notice. Or care.

That’s was the beginning of the end, when American politics started down the rabbit hole. What began as a real-life politician appearing on a fictional TV news show, morphed into fictional politicians on real TV news shows. And real news shows showing up on fictional TV shows.

And a bad reality host running for President of the United States.

In the real world.

At least I think it’s the real world. I’m not sure anymore. I used to have to take drugs to get this confused. Personally I’d rather watch House of Cards. It makes more sense.

To paraphrase a quote from one of my favorite movies, Galaxy Quest, our current reality is a poorly written episode. And it’s not over, not nearly.

26 thoughts on “TRUMPED: REALITY, REALITY SHOWS, AND REAL TV – REDUX – TOM CURLEY

  1. I remember a segment of Murphy Brown in which a (and I don’t know why) a truck filled with potatoes was parked in front of her office? House? With a ribbon on it? I think I remember it being a gift from Dan Quayle. I can’t honestly be sure about anything other than the potatoes, but that’s the thing about potatoes. They are definitely present when they’re present. House of Cards is good, but disgusting, addictive and sinister. Based on the Clintons, I’ve heard.

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    • Based on a bit of everything else, too. Yes. Disgusting, addictive and very sinister. I always look at Garry (he totally loves the show) and ask him “does this happen?” Sometimes, he tells me “yes, actually, though perhaps not as exaggerated,” and sometimes, just a nod. Or he give me one of those looks that says “What do YOU think?” and since I don’t know what I think, I pretend I know what he means.

      Garry and Tom both have those long decades in the news biz with a lot of contact with the movers, shakers, and players. Both have a tendency to think that things are obvious when they are anything but 😀

      I also remember potatoes. I think Qualye misspelled potato as potatoe, then it became a running gag … and I’m not sure what else happened, but there definitely were potatoes.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Here in Monte Vista there are always potatoes. I just got back from a walk and on my way, passed a guy in a cowboy hat driving a big tractor. On the way back, I watched a hay truck — that had just delivered hay to the veterinarians — turn into the street and I thought of my self-indulgent whiney students of four years ago and laughed. And muttered an obscenity in jest. 🙂

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        • You are near High Potato country. We are growing our own imitation Idahos here in the equally or nearly equally frigid north (but east) country. We call them russets, but I know they are Eastern-grown Idahos. My brother when to school at U Idaho, Moscow. He got to know potatoes really well.

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          • the San Luis Valley is the second largest producer of potatoes in the US. 🙂 We even have a festival every year which is surprisingly called the “Monte Vista Potato Festival” and during the festival there are many potato demonstrations (I want you to imagine potatoes marching with signs, though, of course, that’s not what it is). We also grow a lot of carrots, AND all the barley and hops for Coors beer. You’d think I personally did this, butI am actually really proud of it. And a field of potatoes in bloom is beautiful.

            Potato barns out here are, many of them, still adobe. Now that I’ve found my good camera I want to go out and take good photos of them because they are really beautiful and most are falling by the way. Some farms out here have begun growing gourmet potatoes as a way to corner a different potato market. I seldom eat them (except chips) so they’ll have to work hard to corner me.

            Here’s one fairly large operation: https://www.coloradopotato.org/rockey-farms-llc/

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      • He misspelled it at a campaign stop st an elementary school. A kid wrote the word on a blackboard and Quale told him to Add the e at the end. Potatoe

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  2. The other strange spin in all of this, is the fact that our new president elect is still going after the Clintons, and still vilifying Obama. It isnt as if Obama was running against him, and Hillary has gone home. So what’s the point.

    Definitely down the rabbit hole, right into the Mad Hatter’s Tea Party.

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  3. As worrying as the situation is I appreciate your sense of humor. I LOVE House of Cards and have watched every single episode until the last. I thought there was supposed to have a new season. But not sure anymore. Do you know more? I’d love to!
    And I do remember Dan Quayle and his “potatoe.”
    I really really hope that my husband’s predictions for 2017 will come true (a serious serious mistake from D Trump that would impeach him). Hush, don’t tell anyone, we don’t want to jinx it.
    In any case, thank you again for your photos, sense of humor, friendship through our blogs during this weird year.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. It’s gotten so much worse now. I watch a show called Designated Survivor starring Keizer Sutherland. It’s a show about how terrorists blow up the capital building at the state of the union address. All of congress, the president, Vice President, cabinet and Supreme Court are all killed. He is the only one left and is the president and as to rebuild the government. And here’s the thing. The government in this show is running much smoother and more rationally than our reality!!!!

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    • The last word is that March will probably be the start for the new season of House of Cards. As for reality, is this reality? In whose demented mind was this created? We watch Designated Survivor too. Also Madame Secretary. In both cases, their fictional reality never gets nearly as bizarre as this alternate Earth on which we are living.

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