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The Season of the Shark

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Trump’s exclamation to the mistress he took after declaring that his wife “had a week” to lose her baby weight that he  “would never donate to any charity that helps sharks. I hope all the sharks die,” may seem just like random nuttiness. But I like this argument that it perfectly illustrates the worldview of the typical Fox News viewer, and hence Donald Trump:

What’s more relevant to our moment, though, is the process that led Trump to the sharks: He was deliberately choosing to watch them—“obsessed” was the word Daniels used, twice, in the span of a few sentences (also “riveted” and “terrified”). He was watching them so avidly that it seemingly distracted him from his attempt to have sex with a porn star. (“We moved to the sofa so he could get a better view of Shark Week,” Daniels told In Touch.)

There have been very, very many attempts to identify the core of Trumpism, but this—stripped of conventional politics, stripped of considerations of wealth and celebrity—seems to reach it as few other anecdotes have: Donald Trump is a guy on dry land, staring at the television for hours because he wants to make himself feel terror and loathing toward sharks.

Sharks have nothing to do with Donald Trump’s life; his life is lived no closer to the ocean than a beachside golf course. His life contains no mortal danger at all. And yet he needs the idea of the sharks. In the midst of absolute safety, he needs to fear them and hate them, to live out a fictional encounter with a threatening Other. He is intentionally poisoning his mind with them. The sharks are the Knockout Game, the rampaging Mexican gangs, the Muslim infiltrators, the flag-hating elite. They are American Carnage. He wants the sharks. They are the only thing he knows how to want.

 

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