Look, everyone’s feeling like shit right now so before I dive into the obvious topic…
Feeling a bit better? Okay, now for the not so cute stuff.
Yesterday morning an editor that I sometimes work with encountered the Executive Producer on his show in the elevator. She is a notorious hardass, smart but extremely tough (too tough, really), and respected in the industry for having EP-ed some of the more famous docusoaps. She was crying. She told him, “This is terrible, and I feel as though it’s our fault. He only made it this far because of our industry!”
“He” is Trump, if you’ve been under a rock, and “this far” is to the highest office in the United States of America.
Sadly, Andy Cohen lacks such introspection …
Realistically, though, Reality didn’t create Trump. The main thing we can lay at Reality’s door is contributing to the bendiness of what is “real” (which is not small thing, mind you, but the news media went there way before Reality came along). Otherwise, it simply made Trump more famous than he already was and edited him to appear as a credible businessman. But we can’t forget that when Trump spoke to his adoring masses and there were no editors. In fact, as I wrote back in August, he merely babbled whatever he babbled (most of it really was nonsense) while throwing in sound ups like “Crooked Hillary” and “Lock her up!” to incite irrational hatred in the crowds. There is no way to logic people out of an emotion, or not an easy way anyway. There is no way to logic people out of racism or homophobia either. A skilled production team (or an FBI Director) can open Pandora’s box, but we can’t shove that shit back in the can.
It’s safe to say that the Executive Producer’s feeling of guilt for the Trump presidency is the rule rather than the exception. Strange as it may seem, while most of the dreck we produce is actually geared towards the folks who voted Trump into office, and much of the dreck we produce is racist and misogynist (if not as directly as Trump himself is), most of the people working in the industry identify as liberal. On a conservative day. Yesterday at the office felt more like a funeral than a regular production day. A weird funeral, attended by the corpse’s regretful murderers.
While many Americans are saying they want to leave the country (and crashing the Immigration Canada web site in their panic), a lot of Reality Producers are planning emigration closer to home, saying they want to leave the industry. Just as most Americans will probably stay put, I sincerely doubt that many reality folks will bow out of the industry, even if they want to avoid reality. A paycheck is a paycheck. If these people were independently wealthy, they would be producing that Oscar winning indie feature they dreamed about in their twenties and not continually churning out this garbage.
Still, while it is easy to understand why someone would stay in the job they have while they can, I can’t help but wonder whether it’s also a symptom of why we find ourselves where we are right now. We are complacent, as long as it benefits us. We want our creature comforts. We want to believe that as long as we put a good face on things (Hillary or even Obama), we don’t have to do the hard work of actually addressing the rampant inequality in this country. The black men and women being shot by police, the exploding and disproportionate black prison population, the mistreatment of immigrants, the wars and drone strikes that kill both the innocent and the guilty with equal impunity so far away from home.
The hardass Executive Producer was correct. It is our fault. Only the “our” in question includes more than just Reality producers. It includes everyone who has accepted their tiny piece of the pie in exchange for the plutocrats doing whatever the fuck they want.
So now it’s “our” turn to fix it.
Warning: you may actually have to suffer a bit. Like a large part of the country already does.