Here’s an interesting piece on the threat Trump poses not only to the media’s political pieties, but to the entire edifice of politically correct moral authority they had spent decades constructing:
If all his other cultural blasphemies did not finish off Donald Trump, his grab-them-by-the-pussy line, in the overwhelming opinion of the liberal media, would. That it did not might suggest that many cultural certainties are a lot less firm than most of the media and culture industry thought. Twenty years (or so) of rule tightening about how we talk about sex, gender, race and our multicultural society—what is disparagingly called political correctness, or, more inclusively, the liberal point of view—was put up for review by Trump’s election.
The ongoing expressions of shock on the part of the cultural establishment—expressed on a daily basis by The New Yorker, New York magazine and The New York Times, anything, apparently, with New York in its title—reflect their fears that the development of a more careful, regulated and corrected world is about to be undone. That the unapologetic white male has returned. You could hardly find a more threatening and throwback version of that than Trump—a rich, voluble, egomaniacal, middle-aged pussy hound. To write him you would need some combination of authors like Norman Mailer, Terry Southern, Harry Crews and Gore Vidal, all notably out of step with current cultural norms.
The culture norm is as starkly confronted as the political norm with proof that it’s not speaking to the lives of a sizeable part of the nation: that same pussy talk that shocked cosmopolitans turns out not to be of much concern, and even to express a casual day-to-day reality, for many Americans. Media fragmentation has created all sorts of thriving niches that accommodate the views of eager consumers, lessening the need to speak to a broader, more difficult-to-reach audience—the once-great mass market.
Instinctively or by canny plan, Trump converted the conservatives’ parochial and rate-limiting culture war on abortion and gay marriage into a much more visceral campaign against the political pieties of sophisticated America, with Trump as the ultimate revenge on upper-middlebrow cultural life. It’s the mannered and effete against the profane and immediate.
For Trump, Hillary Clinton, in her guardedness and suspicion, in her inability to express herself with any openness and spontaneity, summed up out-of-touchness, struggling to attract crowds of a few hundred, while he was pulling tens of thousands.
Trump’s attacks on the media served to say that his language, his expressiveness, his ability to connect with the audience was more potent than the media’s. (In an interview with Trump shortly after his nomination was secure, he told me he was sure of victory when for the first primary debate, the usual audience increased almost tenfold because of his presence: “I’m more entertaining than the media.”) The media, in thrall to the culture establishment—and signed on to its cultural rules and concerns (hence its Pussygate shock)—was inauthentic and he was the real thing. For “CNN sucks”-screaming Trump supporters, CNN sucks for, in fact, the same reason that it sucks to everybody else—it’s phony and slavish—but Trumpsters were suddenly saying it, screaming it. (Liberals took this as an attack on free speech; on Trump’s side, the view was that the media stifles real speech.)
This attack on careful, orderly, prescribed culture is what happens when the culture stops talking about real things—at least what a significant part of the country regards as real and important. Or, it is—and certainly is inevitably thought to be by those cultural standard bearers under attack—a sinister onslaught against enlightenment itself.
In the view of the latter camp, Steve Bannon, one of the masterminds of the Trump campaign, and the new administration’s “chief strategist,” becomes a preeminent retrograde white male bugaboo. The non-Trump culture can only see him as a threat, and sore thumb, and, without the means to describe or recognize anybody too far outside its circle, a racist, misogynist, anti-Semite. And yet, not that long ago, Bannon would have been a perfectly recognizable figure, even an admirable one, an ex-military and up-from-working-class guy, striving, through three marriages and various careers, to make it, but never finding much comfort in the establishment world, wanting to be part of it, and wanting to explode it at the same time—a character for a writer like Kevin Morris. An American man’s story. Republican politics is filled with such strivers—Lee Atwater, Roger Ailes, Karl Rove—great characters reduced to violations of liberal sensibilities.
Indeed, the election reengages a gender battle that many people on the New York side of the Trump gap had thought was mightily going in only one direction. The vestigial and primitive American man, unreconstructed, baying at the moon (probably high on opiates)—the alt-right in the liberal view—voiceless for many years (or, anyway, wise to shut up), now had Donald “Let me be your voice” Trump. The obvious message of his sudden resurgence of course is that he didn’t go away or reform: He was just shut out. Without any place in upper-middlebrow culture, except as an occasional enemy of reason or subject of scandal, there was no bridge to who he was—no humanity left for him.
Hence, while the liberal media was helping to eject that ultimate white man devil figure Roger Ailes from Fox News for real and perceived sins against women (it seemed not to much matter which), the country was making a pussy-grabber president. The gap between HR departments and the real world is a story obviously not being told very well. A story whose ambiguities and nuances could not now be written—nor its real language uttered—because the cultural establishment sees no ambiguities and nuances and, for sure, doesn’t allow those words. But meanwhile, a good part of the country—unable to communicate with the cultural establishment—sees only hypocrisy.
Read the whole thing.
(Hat tip: Ace of Spades HQ.)