He's Basically Stalin
When I wept myself to sleep on Election Night 2016 and woke up to begin the long process of shipping all my pets to safe homes overseas, people told me I was overreacting.
"Sure, he's a petulant, sexist, racist asshole, but he's not a monster. He's not a dictator. He's not Stalin…"
Those words are echoing in my head today, made suddenly ominous and foreboding. And there is no consolation in the fact that I am vindicated. I am only thankful that I didn't listen to the people who tried to prevent me from shipping Hampton Sterling to that nice Dutch family. He is too fragile to watch what's becoming of our once proud nation, now that Donald Trump has revealed his true self. Stalin could not hope for a better heir to his legacy. Just as Joseph Vissarionovich before him, Donald Trump has begun the process of rewriting history to reflect current allegiances.
Avert your gaze, Hampton!
It started last night, half an hour into the ABC's broadcast of Dancing With the Stars, when Donald Trump was still rooting for his former press secretary, Sean Spicer to take home the prize. He tweeted, "Vote for Sean Spicer on Dancing with the Stars. He is a great and very loyal guy who is working very hard. He is in the quarterfinals – all the way with Sean! #MAGA #KAG" But don't bother looking for that tweet in his feed now, because Trump's coveted dancing endorsement wasn't enough to overcome Spicer's lackluster performance. This last-minute plea for votes was perhaps too late, or Trump's endorsement isn't as powerful as he thinks.
At any rate, the tally came in, and Spicer lost, and there is no greater sin in Trump's ethos than the sin of losing—especially on a reality show. Almost immediately, like Stalin erasing the men he's killed from his old photos, Donald Trump deleted that tweet. Did he ever think that Sean Spicer was "great and very loyal?" The official record has nothing to say on the matter. The moment would have been fully wiped from history if not for the brave souls who risked their lives by sharing their screenshotted contraband. In its place is a new tweet that merely says that Spicer's performance was a "great try" and a half-hearted claim that "we're all proud of you!"
Pictured: The exact same thing
Trump has deleted endorsement tweets before, but never for anyone who was once so close to him. Where are the MAGA and KAG hashtags in the new tweet? They are reserved for people who are accepted members of the inner circle. Spicer is no longer a Made man. Like Scaramucci and so many others before him, the ranks have closed, with Spicer now on the outside. If you ask Trump tomorrow who his first Press Secretary was, he would say with a straight face "Sarah Sanders." These are today's alternative facts. The dictator's history reflects the present, and Sean Spicer is out.
So many people want to focus on extorting Ukraine, abandoning the Kurds in Syria, putting children in concentration camps, or cutting funds to important social services while racking up enormous deficits as a result of tax cuts for our nation's wealthiest citizens. But let's spare a moment for a real victim of Trump's evil. Sean Spicer is being erased. If I were him, I'd be sleeping with one eye open, staring at my hand like Marty McFly in Back to the Future. But I'm not, so I'll fall asleep crying, staring at an empty hamster cage as usual.
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Sean Spicer's character arc on Dancing With the Stars is ripped straight from RoboCop.
In a dystopian American future, a man who has lost everything and been shamed and brutalized beyond recognition is revived by a mega-corporation and brought back into society as both a hero of the people and a tool of fascism. Welcome to Dancing With the Stars starring Sean Spicer.
As disgraced ex-U.S. press secretary Sean Spicer glorbled his way around the dance floor to "Spice Up Your Life" by Spice Girls, the very fabric of reality collapsed around my computer screen. "Glorbled" isn't even a real word, but there's no other way to capture the alienness of witnessing Sean Spicer gleefully smacking bongos in a frilly, lime green top and dumpy, ill-fitting slacks. This is a man who used his official position as the White House mouthpiece to knowingly lie to the American public, and now that he's left the government in disgrace, we're watching him crotch slide. Excuse my language, but what the f*ck is wrong with us?
Sean Spicer's Salsa – Dancing with the Stars www.youtube.com
Then it dawned on me. This premise is ripped straight from RoboCop, Paul Verhoeven's enduring 1987 cyberpunk-satire that warned against capitalism run amuck.
RoboCop takes place in a dystopian-future Detroit on the brink of collapse until a mega-corporation called Omni Consumer Products (OCP) steps in to save the day. OCP turns the once-downtrodden city into a bustling, high-end utopia and also takes control of the police force. So when Alex Murphy, one of the best officers on the force, gets brutally murdered in the line of duty, OCP uses his corpse as the test subject for an experimental cyborg program, reanimating him as RoboCop.
RoboCop quickly becomes a hero to the public, operating on three Prime Directives: Serve the public trust, protect the innocent, and uphold the law. But there's a secret fourth directive RoboCop doesn't know about: "Any attempt to arrest a senior officer of OCP results in shutdown." In short, RoboCop is designed to be a tool of corporate fascism, capable of reinforcing the ruling party's will while never turning against his creators, no matter what they do.
Verhoeven's entire point in RoboCop is that corporations only care about social goodness to the extent of their ability to profit off it. ABC seems to be doing everything in their power to prove him right, and what better way to do that than by stealing RoboCop's character arc for Sean Spicer?
Like RoboCop, Sean Spicer is a man who has been brutalized by society. There are some differences, of course––Alex Murphy was very good at his job, while Sean Spicer was a total nincompoop––but for all intents and purposes, Sean Spicer's public image is battered and bloody, just like Alex Murphy's corpse after being torn apart by shotgun blasts.
Luckily for Spicer, ABC can rebuild him. They have the technology and, more importantly, a primetime TV slot. So just as OCP outfits Murphy's corpse with android technology and sends him out to patrol, ABC outfits Spicer in silly costumes and sends him out to dance. They hope that, in the same way the dystopian Detroit public came to love RoboCop, so, too, will the dystopian American public––most of whom ABC hopes have been lobotomized by the 24-hour news cycle––come to love goofy dancing Sean Spicer.
One would hope people could see through the charade and crush ABC's attempts to normalize a guy who literally defended Hitler. But I'm not so confident we can do that.
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