The Wednesday Pop Culture Rant begins with two random observations. First, if the intertubes possessed as many jaw-dropping pictures as the listicles claim, The Rant would be in a perpetual state of Jacob Marley1. Let’s just calm down 13 Jaw-Dropping Pictures of What Child Stars Look Like Now. Also, number 4 did not shock us as breathlessly promised. Second, The Rant doesn’t care who knows it: we can’t get enough of Baby Damian Lillard in those State Farm commercials. That giant head on that tiny body just makes The Rant happy. Wave those arms again, Baby Damian.
The Rant is reminded that Isaiah Berlin2 once argued that history is not inevitable. We have choices; claiming events must occur becomes a sly way to win an argument, avoid culpability and shut off all other debate (see: evangelical eschatology, supply-side economics, and Stephen A. Smith).
The current hang-wringing over Donald Trump’s rise in national politics will soon be explained away by the pundits as one of those inevitable occurrences no one could see coming. This narration will prove necessary so everyone can excuse themselves from blame or participation.
To that The Rant says bollocks. The entire political system, led by the Republican party, chose to generate hysteria in swing voters instead of focusing on issues; Lee Atwater chose to create a blueprint of lies and planted news stories followed by a shrug when exposed; Fox News chose to deliver a never-ending stream of anger rather than journalism; both parties chose candidates that had no ideas beyond getting elected at any cost; the media chose to abandon fact-checking and equitable coverage for whichever nut-job candidate could garner the highest ratings; America has chosen over and over to vote against its own self-interest in the name of some looming menace that never materializes.
The result of all these demoralizing choices has been Donald J. Trump. Because you can’t continually tell people to live in fear and anger then suddenly act shocked because they express their fear and anger in a way that no longer benefits you. The flames of hatred will eventually burn everything to the ground.
The Rant knows that now the great temptation will reside in succumbing to the lie that the inevitable will just keep rolling Trump to the nomination and beyond. We still have choices. We can still say no to those that want the worst for our country to prove some perverse point so they can smugly say, “I told you so.” Whether the world ends will be our choice, not the inescapable outcome of an historical inevitability. And if we do choose our own end, whether it occurs in a bang or a whimper will be meaningless conjecture.
- “At this the spirit raised a frightful cry, and shook its chain with such a dismal and appalling noise, that Scrooge held on tight to his chair, to save himself from falling in a swoon. But how much greater was his horror, when the phantom taking off the bandage round its head, as if it were too warm to wear indoors, its lower jaw dropped down upon its breast!” Dickens would have owned the internet.
- Please note the ease with which The Rant goes from Baby Damian to Isaiah Berlin. Such transitions attempted at HuffPo, Slate, or Salon would cause debilitating intellectual whiplash. Mic duly dropped