Reading Laurie Ouellette and James Hay's "Better Living through Reality TV," specifically chapter six, made me wince because of it's uncanny prediction of our future. As soon as I read the section "Reality TV is Technically Part of the Political Process," which compares voting on American Idol to voting for the president, states that "sometimes TV blurs the difference between 'real politics' and TV's games or experiments of government" (Ouellette 215), and speaks of The Apprentice as a show "where public and private government intersect" (215), I thought "well Laurie Ouellette must be having a field day with the Trump presidency".
Lo and behold, Ouellette has been busy furthering her point. "Trump is more than a symptom of manipulative infotainment and cultural decline: His political ascendency speaks to reality TV’s long-established role in governing practices"(Trump Show Abstract). Sounds about on-point with her previous stance in the piece we read this week. In the same way that "when The Apprentice broadcasts
arranged meetings between its young contestants and public office
holders (such as New York Senator Charles Schumer and New York
City Mayor Michael Bloomberg), TV invite(d) office holders of state
government to authorize TV's own exemplary displays of entrepreneurialism, corporate citizenship, and private group government," Donald Trump turned the tables and used television and his power within that field to authorize his stances on those same "office holders of state government" (Better Living Through Reality TV 219).
Ouellette even seems a little tired of having to remind the people that they had it coming.
"As I have argued for some time," she states in her newer article, "reality TV is more than a stage-managed distraction. More than any other mode of television programming to date, it has played a visible (and often material) role in the neoliberal “reinvention” of government. For nearly two decades, reality TV has resonated with critiques of 'big government' and has enacted private alternatives to state oversight and responsibility for public welfare" (Trump Show, 2). Trump not only took his entertainment value as a celebrity (aka entertainment machine) to take up the most of the airtime and coverage of news sites, but relied upon the cultivated image he created for himself during the past decade of The Apprentice, where he showed his prowess as a business man. "Thanks to reality TV, he is the embodiment of an enterprising subjectivity and a 'no nonsense' approach to leadership that draws legitimacy from the market" (Trump Show, 3). But the problem, as we all know, is that the success of Donald in his controlled televisual "reality" does not translate well to his actions taken as President.