Everything that goes around

By Puck Wildschut

When I
started brainstorming on a subject for my Culture Weekly blog I was hard
pressed not to talk about the new president of the United States, but
about something fun, say music, sports or books. I felt culture lovers would surely
appreciate a positive and disinterested note on what’s happening in te world,
as a counterweight to all of the disturbing news we are constantly hearing.
Sadly, Mr. Trump and his blatantly inhumane views are quite literally
everywhere nowadays and my unconscious just can’t seem to stop spotting
references to the man and his rise to political power. So yes, this blog is
about Trump, which is regrettable, but is also about some very good music, one
of my favourite books and even that crazy little thing called hope.

Wednesday
23rd November 2016 was a good day. That evening, I went to a show of
one of the greatest bands in the world, Living Colour, and witnessed the best
gig I had seen in years. Living Colour is about as anti-Trump as it gets:
They’re an African-American crossover quartet who have been fighting rascism,
sexism, and capitalism throughout their entire career, starting in the late
1980’s, using their lyrics, musical skill, music videos and interviews to
battle unequality and prejudice in society. During their show, Trump was
referenced a couple of times. Frontman Corey Glover was visibly and audibly
still shocked about ‘their’ new president: “When we left on tour, we left
behind our country. When we’ll return in a couple of days, we’ll be going back
to a country that’s gone completely bananas.” [quote by approximation – PW]. In
a sense, it seems that Living Colour warned us about Trump a long time ago, in
songs and videos such as ‘Cult of Personality’ (Vivid, 1988) and
my personal favorite ‘Type’ (Time’s Up, 1990). ’Cult of personality
is a powerful attack on the value people ascribe to status, image and succes,
which earily describes the current U.S. President’s irresponsible behaviour: “I
sell the things you need to be/I’m the smiling face on your T.V./I’m the cult
of personality/I exploit you still you love me/I tell you one and one makes
three”.

image

In ’Type’,
I believe Living Colour provides us with one of the most apt descriptions of
the nature of current society, as much nowadays as in the 1990’s, when the song
was first released: “We are the children of concrete and steel/This is the
place where the truth is concealed/This is the time when the lie is
revealed/Everything is possible, but nothing is real”. These and other lyrics
by Living Colour paint a disturbingly accurate picture of modern day political
America, which is not to say that they are prophetic, so much as that they
anticipate where our own behaviour as citizens and consumers will lead to: a
world in which the most powerful man alive is considered a sociopath by many,
a.o. his own ghostwriter Tony Schwartz (see Tony
Schwartz on Bill Maher’s Real Time
). The interesting thing with Living Colour is that they firmly place
the blame on us: we, the people, are the ones that allow greed and money
to rule the world and vote a megalomaniac to become president of the most
powerful nation in the Western world. Which brings us to that favourite book I
mentioned…

When it
became official that Trump would be running for the Republican party, I was
immediately drawn towards my bookcase and furiously leafd through Bret Easton
Ellis’ lit-body horror novel American Psycho (1990).  I remember my first thought on Trump’s
nomination being: “Well, at least he won’t get elected for office unless the
American voters collectively go and turn into a bunch of murdering
psychopaths.”, since the novel’s protagonist Patrick Bateman is a
murderer-rapist-psychopath who revers Trump and his lifestyle.

image

Well, that
wasn’t exactly what happened next in the real world (sigh of relief), but I could
still hear Bateman in almost every Trump-supporter I saw interviewed, admiring
all his economic accomplishments and his power to exclude people unlike ‘the
average, hard-working American’ from his plans to make America great again.
Like Bateman. The French newspaper Libération had the same verdict of
Trump as me, at least.

image

Well, I
promised you some good music (check), a favourite book (check) and some hope
(here it comes!). It might not sound very hopeful, but here’s the thing: As
Living Colour shows us, we, the people of the world, are the ones that have
created a world-wide political climate in which someone like Trump can become
the White House’s most important occupant. Even if you’re a vegan leftist
hippie like me, you have to acknowledge that we are all stuck in the capitalist
way of life, in which even those critical of Trump and the values he professes
buy houses, get mortgages, want to have more and more and more stuff and (yes,
it’s true) put their own well-being before that of everyone else. And now we
are pissed off, because a man’s in charge in the U.S. that we feel represents
nothing of what we stand for, precisely because he epitomizes the way of
life we have been living for around the last 35 years. “Everything that goes
around, comes around”, Living Colour’s Corey Glover ironically sings to us in
‘Type’. But what it also means is this: That we, those very same people, have
the power to change things. And just as Trump is changing al the good stuff
that his predecessor has brought the world, we have the chance to let the world
know that we will change it back – back to the environment-friendly,
not-xenophobic, tolerant road Obama set it upon during eight harsh years of being
a true leader of America and the rest of the world. So march, protest, sign,
organize, come together, try to be a lover of life instead of a consumer of
goods, and eventually change will come. And also, get angry, because we need
some fire to counter the self-righteousness of conservative leaders in America
and elsewhere. You can start heating up right here: Living Colour – Who Shot Ya?
(Notorious B.I.G. cover) (2016)

Image credits:

1) Living
Colour Live @ 013 Tilburg 23 November 2016. Source: http://www.maxazine.nl/2016/11/24/intiem-concert-living-colour-hoogtepunt/. © Conny van den Heuvel,
DCHPhotography

2) Patrick
Bateman (Christian Bale) Trumping it in Mary Harron’s (director) film
adaptation of American Psycho (2000). Source:
http://www.cinemablend.com/new/American-Psycho-Ending-What-Really-Happened-70126.html

3) Cover Libération
9 November 2016. Source: HLN.BE 9 november 2016

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