Fortunately the first thing I read in the Observer this morning was Jarvis Cocker remembering an episode of the old Batman TV series where The Penguin runs for mayor of Gotham City. He points out how horribly similar the fat bird’s schtick is to the Presumptive Nominee’s. It was only when I glanced at The Observer’s sports section, and having tossed it onto the floor picked up the magazine, which I then also tossed onto the floor, that I wished I’d never bought the newspaper in the first place.
How can a campaign like Trump’s fail when as far away as this side of the Atlantic an allegedly thoughtful newspaper prints a sports section without a woman on its front page, and a magazine with just one woman on the cover: a Victoria’s Secret model?
Something’s happening all over again, and it’s happening all over. All of those column inches of ink spilled out in the liberal press over the last fifty years and was it ever a form of denial, a kind of word-wrap trying to contain a feast of unthinkable wishes? Boys still wanted to be Boys, and wanting girls.
Things have changed but in ways that seem to channel a past that couldn’t happen. Society was too structured, too policed. There was even a Wall, the Berlin Wall, like the one Trump says he’ll build now; and thank God it was smashed down – but now what?
Whatever now is has emerged … what are we going to do with it? Can we be honest and try to notice how little has changed? If I sit in a cinema watching ads before a film I feel as if I’m in a dream of the 1970s (I grew up in the 1970s; I didn’t imagine them, did I?). This morning I open a newspaper and see men playing with themselves in the sports section and a magazine selling itself on the strength of an attractive woman whose job is to sell lingerie. This is the past in a weaselly, half-hidden way. The Observer and Trump, they appeal in different ways to a lowest common denominator. We need a different kind of debate and I wonder where I’m going to look.