Category Archives: TV

“Grand Tour:” Crazy New Car Show on Amazon Prime

By Alex Maldonado

In the automotive world, few names hold as much power as Jeremy Clarkson, James May, and Richard Hammond. The trio has been in the public eye for over a decade now; most notably for their roles hosting the British car show, Top Gear. After building up a massive global fan base over the span of twelve years, mixing car news and reviews with slapstick humor and witty banter, the show met an unfortunate end in early 2015. In March of 2015, Clarkson, the lead host, physically attacked one of the show’s producers over an argument about a cold steak. The producer chose not to press charges, but the show’s parent company, the BBC, decided it couldn’t allow Clarkson to get away with is actions.

amazon-1-655340Clarkson’s contract was terminated and his loyal cohosts left with him. After a several-month-long break, the team was picked up by Amazon Prime to star in an all new car show called “The Grand Tour.” The show is set in a collapsible tent that will be transported from continent to continent, highlighting glimpses of the local car culture and completing Top Gear-esque challenges along the way.

The first episode -set in the California desert during a concert reminiscent to Burning Man- had a record setting opening, bringing in three times as many viewers as the opening for Amazon Prime’s previous leading show, The Man in the High Castle, according to Digital Spy. The debut episode revealed vcover20f-2-webseveral recycled and renamed segments from their previous show, including a news segment which, due to legal reasons with the BBC, is called “Conversation Street.” Another Top Gear throwback includes testing every new car they get their hands on a private race track with a professional racing driver. The new track is much smaller and simpler than the Top Gear equivalent, though the crew claims it to be significantly more dangerous. The danger doesn’t come from sharp turns, tight hairpins, or steep elevation changes; but from a climate causing regular moisture, uneven and bumpy sections in the tarmac, and even the occasional animal crossing. The Grand Tour also hints at the possibility of doing a celebrity feature segment, similar to Top Gear’s “big star in a reasonably priced car.” However, each time a celebrity is set to be featured on the show, they suffer an inexplicably sudden death, like a parachute not deploying while skydiving into the audience, or being mauled by a lion while walking up to the tent. According to news outlet The Sun, the BBC has threatened the Grand Tour with legal action if the show presents a celebrity interview segment even remotely resembling the recurring Top Gear bit.

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Another segment the Grand Tour team is struggling to revive in a non-plagiaristic way is their new car track time test. Previously, the team would turn the keys over to their silent, robotic, “tamed racing driver” called The Stig. The Stig was a fan favorite, never seen without his white racing suit and smoked visor. The Stig was something of a mystery to fans, regularly playing obscure music or sounds as he drove around the test track, and treating things as ordinary as a cellphone as something completely alien. Now, Clarkson and co. are enlisting an almost universally unpopular former NASCAR driver to test the cars. Wesley Wren of Autoweek critiqued the show’s new driver, saying, “[Last week’s] review gets even worse with not-so-tamed racing driver Mike Skinner behind the wheel. In the last episode, we saw the talented driver act like a stereotypical boneheaded American, which even felt stale in a small dose. The writers at “The Grand Tour” must have thought that people simply didn’t get the joke, because they doubled down with the American-isms for Skinner’s segment.”

The Grand Tour isn’t all bad though. Many diehard fans were happy just to see the gang back together, roaring million-dollar hyper cars around a racetrack again. As the show is still in its infancy, it’s clear the crew is still trying to discover what they want to be; what they want to do with their show, and where to go from here. The Grand Tour is something of a second chance for Clarkson, Hammond, and May; and they are still in the process of determining what works and what doesn’t. New episodes premiere every Friday, exclusively on Amazon prime.

“American Housewife:” Plus Size Beauty and a Big Heart

By Kayna Kemp Stout

161006-american-housewife-1American Housewife is a new sitcom with an old formula, but with a relevant commentary on body image from a plus size point of view. Mom Katie Otto, played by Katy Mixon, is a size 14 living in an upscale California community of size 2’s. She’s got three quirky kids and a seemingly supportive husband willing to indulge her crazy sounding schemes. American Housewife is a Kapital Entertainment–ABC Studios co-production set in Westport, Connecticut.

She’s the driving force of the three viewed episodes. I’ll continue to watch it on Tuesday evenings after The Middle, one of my all time faves. Similar to The Middle, the plot lines draw material from the sparring between siblings and parents engaged in the minutiae of family life. Unlike The Middle, Otto deals with her weight issues in each episode. That resonates with the 65 per cent of American women who are a plus size, but rarely represented in today’s media landscape, especially sitcoms. As with all sitcoms, success hinges on the writing. The concept is fresh and quirky enough to leave me anxious for next week’s episode.

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Kudos to the high school teen daughter Taylor, middle school son Oliver, and elementary aged daughter Anna-Kat; the director coaches them to fine performances.

 

 

New sitcom on heaven: “The Good Place” (but what if you’re there by mistake?)

By Kayna Kemp Stout

“The Good Place” (NBC) starring Kristen Bell and Ted Danson is a new sitcom about what happens in the afterlife. Mormon viewers will chuckle, squirm, and nod their heads in unison at the portrayal of the grand beyond.

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THE GOOD PLACE — “Tahani Al-Jamil” Episode 103 — Pictured: (l-r) Ted Danson as Michael, D’Arcy Carden as Janet, William Jackson Harper as Chidi — (Photo by: Justin Lubin/NBC)

For starters, we believe the afterlife is a busy place with comings and goings as we know it now, which is how The Good Place portrays it. We LDS adherents also believe we will be with like minded souls who have a similar goodness quotient. This also is a commonality with the show. However, the show has a twist. A few mistakes are made in the admissions process; there are unworthy clandestine members of the righteous neighborhood who were accidentally admitted. This creates havoc in an otherwise perfectly functioning afterlife. Can heaven or kingdoms as we Mormons say have flaws in them? After viewing three episodes, there are six main characters orchestrating the shenanigans in the holy neighborhood.

 

Ted Danson is the architect of the community with a human-like robotic assistant that knows everything, and can procure whatever is needed instantly. A modern-day version of 50001417Samantha without the nose-twitching from Bewitched. Add to the cast the two interlopers who are each paired with a benevolent member of the community, and you have the basis for many scripts about honesty, authenticity, and consequences. One of the amusing consequences of the misfits is their inability to swear in the good place. “Fork” substitutes for other four-letter word involuntarily replacing what they intended to say. I also enjoy informative lectures about ethics from the character whose former life was a college philosophy professor. He is tutoring the misfits in doing what’s best for the others in the neighborhood instead of just selfishly caring about themselves as they were accustomed to on earth. This makes for some good Sunday School lessons, which most Mormons would appreciate.

 

 

 

In Hawaii, it’s beaches, waves, and Kahuku High School football!

by Jasmine Weng

Football is immensely popular in the U.S., but few in the Mainland know its cultural role on the North Shore of Oahu, Hawaii. Kahuku High School football draws thousands to Aloha Stadium in Honolulu, and on September 17 more than 2,000 “Red Raider” fans flew to Las Vegas for a game against Bishop Gorman, the number one high school in the nation. Gorman prevailed, but not the Kahuku spirit that is traced to ancient traditions of family, community, and excellent gamesmanship.

For those born in the North Shore towns, Kahuku football is the center of gravity. It owns the most championships, and sends the most players to the NFL. Red Raider fansweb1_20160822_kahuku_touchdown purchased the 2,000 available tickets for the Las Vegas game within an hour. The stadium holds 5,000 people and the Kahuku faithful had a huge presence in their red t-shirts as they waved Red Raider flags. Fans back on the island watched the game on TV or online in ritual gatherings in homes and eateries. Pounders Restaurant at the Polynesian Cultural Center streamed the contest for Kahuku fans while providing Kalua pork and other game “grinds.”

Pounders was packed that night with red t-shirt clad supporters, some wearing the classic Red Raider headband. Beyond Pounders, thousands found somewhere to watch the live stream. Fans rarely watch games alone as TV broadcasts become ignite luaus up and down Kamehameha Highway.

Although Bishop Gorman has a big budget and superior equipment, they’re no match for Kahuku spirit that echoes the ancient warrior legends; Devotion to the game may derive from ancient dance rituals. Service activities and community fundraising is often tied to football.

web1_spt-kahuku-spirit-1-300x200Aofaga Wily, a 21 year old Kahuku alumnus and football player says he felt like a celebrity while on the team. Even as a high school player, people sought his autograph and photo. “The attention did not make me big-headed or conceited, but made me humble and willing to be a good example for the younger generation”, said Wily. He expressed how football is a big influence on other players’ lives; it teaches hardwork, humility, and how to build a family with teammates. While Kahuku lost the game, they gained great experience by playing Bishop Gorman. Red Raiders of the North shore always hold their heads high; they are “Red Raiders for life.”

Dancing with the Stars: “Lochte, look out!”

by Stephanie Soto

Ryan Lochte, a famed Olympic swimmer, got blindsided by two protesters during the first night of TV’s Dancing with the Stars. The protesters were protesting against Lochte due to Lochte’s lie he made during the 2016 Rio Olympics about being held at gunpoint at a Rio gas station. Lochte has now been banned from swimming professionally for the next ten months.

Lochte has been known for being a large partier athlete with his short lived reality show on E network and pictures of his extreme lifestyle popping up over the internet. The young thirty-two year old’s money and fame has been causing controversy for some time, but not on such a world scale.

Lochte had signed up to do Dancing with the Stars before the incident in Rio even happened. ryan_lochte_set_to_join-f87afebdba100f992fee5d2bff2884d3The protestors luckily never touched Lochte, but got all the way on stage to where Lochte was standing until tackled by security guards. This is not all, female protesters stood in the stands yelling boo and liar to Lochte on stage until fellow dancer, Derek Hough, told them to leave. Although the protest was a non-violent one, it still made a statement. Interviews from the cast and Lochte himself show that some thought it was a stunt, while others were upset that the protesters decided to make a fun family show about politics.

The protesters have gone on record saying they did it for America and wanted to show that Lochte is a liar and a criminal.

Lochte has gone on record apologizing for the incident in Rio, but people are quick to judge and not so quick to forgive. This makes me think of the verse Luke 6:37 “Judge not and ye shall not be judged; condemn not, and ye shall not be condemned; forgive and ye shall be forgiven.”

Did Lochte do wrong, yes. Does he deserve to be harassed forever, no. People makect-ryan-lochte-protesters-dancing-with-the-stars-20160912 mistakes all the time, not on such grand a scale, but people make mistakes. Unfortunately, the money and fame does not make you any smarter or help you deal with situations more. Most seem to think it does – it is usually opposite the case.

Lochte will and has been reprimanded for what he did, but going onto Dancing with the Stars is not only putting Lochte in a difficult spot, but his partner and the rest of the dancing with the stars cast and crew too. This is not the best way to go about doing things.

We, as human beings, need to show forgiveness and compassion to those who have wronged us. Not to make them feel worse than they already do.

“Chef’s Table” TV Series: Is Food God’s Greatest Gift?

By Stephanie Soto

Netflix Original Series’ Chef’s Table tells stories of exceptionally gifted chefs that shatter expectations and demonstrate struggle, success, and unbelievable perseverance.

Chef’s Table is a documentary series on  chefs from all over the world exhibiting their groundbreaking if not radical culinary delights.  Season Two features six different chefs, a few from America, with amazing stories.

Grant Achatz, the chef behind the mind blowing restaurant Alinea in Chicago, mixes science and food into a gorgeous work of art with floating sugar, tomatoes in the shape of chef-atala-chefs-table-1024x871strawberries, and endless innovative creations. Being in a position to create pursue his vision was the struggle, and a compelling part of the story. Achatz grew up in his family’s diner, and fell in love with food while studying with the best chefs in the country. Then, he defied ordinary fine dining, becoming a great artist of the dining world.  His dream met road blocks, such as stage-four cancer of the mouth. Doctors said he would likely die from the cancer or the subsequent surgery. He nearly gave up hope, until the University of Chicago offered a different solution to chemotherapy, but Achatz lost his sense of taste. This hurdle didn’t stop him; it spawned the idea to let others assist him in creating innovative dishes until he regained partial tasting ability.   This story of one man’s dream to defy the odds with his cooking and perseverance is an inspiration to us all. Perseverance shapes who we are and urges us on when things get hard. God is there as we push through the darkness toward a brighter day.

Dominique Creen, an adopted woman from France, made her mark in San Francisco becoming the first female chef to win two Michelin stars in America with her restaurant Atelier Crenn, named after her father. Her food is a different take on traditional French birthday_treatfood, that incorporates her childhood memories and feelings; it takes you back to times held most dearly. She wants her restaurants to help people feel at home, to bring them to her home, and make them family. Her menu is not traditional; it is a poem, that within each line, incorporates each dish in a new way. Success comes with a price, and while running her restaurant her father developed cancer. Due to her job, she could not see him until he passed away. Later, when her mother got sick, she went immediately to France to care for her. Creen’s dedication to her craft is admirable, but chasing your dream can not take over what really matters and that is family; a balance of the two helps you achieve your goals better than doing it alone.

There are more chefs in the series, each with a jaw-dropping amazing food to savor; each with a story of how they scratched and climbed their way to the top. Just remember, Mathew 19: “With man this is impossible; with God all things are possible.”

Colin Kaepernack Doesn’t Stand for Anthem: It Happened Everyday in the Sixties

By Danny Stout

Recently, San Francisco Forty-Niner Colin Kapernack, refused to stand for the National Anthem before a National Football League (NFL) game. Rebuking this public display of patriotism, Kapernack was immediately on the news agenda, earning attention from the New York Times, CNN, The Huffington Post, and the New York Times. Failing to stand for the anthem, salute the flag, or in rarer cases actually burning the flag, are not new in U.S. history of protest. What’s perplexing is the frenzied scrambling to cover the story, as if it’s never been seen.

Suffice it to say that eschewing civil rituals is newsworthy, given that it weighs values ofblackpower patriotism against free speech. For example, a constitutional amendment prohibiting flag-burning is proposed intermittently. Unfortunately, coverage has been incendiary in tone; the goal of the media establishment seems to be about high ratings, rather than the underlying social problems underlying Kapernack’s action. With less emphasis on the political issues themselves, an opportunity for real public discussions slips through our fingers.

Giving the cold shoulder to the anthem was particular salient in the 1960’s, ignited by athletes Tommie Smith and John Carlos at the 1968 Summer Olympics in Mexico City when they raised their fisted black gloves to the flag in support of civil rights. Not long after the Newark, NJ riots, many African-American students refused to salute the flag. When other students used the flag for a table cloth, arguments broke out in the cafeteria.

Such demonstrations are reflections of our times, and uncover salient dilemmas. A barometer of unrest so to speak. We ignore these roots of discontent at our peril. Thus, President Obama said almost off-handedly, Kapernack was simply trying to say something. How many, regardless of their political persuasion, are listening?

Did Social Media Share the Olympic Spirit?

by Daniel LeBaron

Something resonates about the Olympic games. If we assume that threads of Mormon values are reflected in them,  Latter-day Saints will glean something in this international event. (http://www.deseretnews.com/article/865659081/Local-athletes-prepare-to-represent-the-US-and-Utah-in-the-2016-Summer-Games-this-month.html). We celebrate when anyone emerges victorious, but a Latter-day Saint winner places us in the celebration circle of a world community.  (http://www.deseretnews.com/article/865659391/Mormons-in-Rio-Who-to-watch-for-this-Olympics.html) This, despite the fact that Bob Costas and the NBC operation brought us the same dull commentary. Costas summarizes the day, a video of the winner is played, and then the interview. Hardly anything about the countries of non-American competitors. The chance to learn of other cultures is squandered. Social media, however, holds promise for a more fulfilling experience, as I share in this review.

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But The Olympics is more than sporting events–they compel families who normally could care less about sports to watch. So what is it about the Olympic spirit that captures our hearts?

Perhaps it is the familiar–memories of watching  with our families. Or is it the sense that even though we are competing with other countries, that we’re connected  to the larger world, whom we regard as brothers and sisters. We glimpse a hope of what could be.  Even when the feeling of unity is numbed by politics or economics, a spirit of respect and cooperation remains. For me, this time around, I felt the Olympics paralleled our beliefs and placed them in the  context of global experience, but through traditional news coverage.

This year my viewing experience was different given I don’t own a television, thus my exposure to official NBC coverage was limited. Most of what I saw and heard  was through social media. This organic and authentic portrayal of what my friends were resonating with was instructive. It also brought up questions of who has been shaping my view of the Olympics–this year I was able to see them through a much wider perspective (beyond Bob Costas) as a result of getting information from friends with connections and sources around the world. Social media may well show how the spirit in the games affects the everyday person.

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I’m not alone in the online world of the Olympics. Josef Adalian of New York Magazine noted that “Part of [their] problem is big defections among millennial audiences….among adults aged 18 to 34, it looks like Friday’s opening was down around 43 percent compared to London….” (http://nymag.com/daily/intelligencer/2016/08/rio-olympics-ratings-are-the-worst-theyve-been-in-years.html) Moreover, NBC itself has seen a large shift of viewers from television to digital consumption.(http://www.sltrib.com/home/4216100-155/nbc-says-rio-olympic-viewership-reaches)

Combined with what my friends were sharing, I saw what was trending across sites as a whole. There were posts tied to current political issues; this is the power of  discourse. As with many things on the Internet there was the superficial, or content meant for quick entertainment and humor. Nevertheless, on the whole, I saw the inspirational. There were stories of athletes falling down during their race, rising again, and achieving gold; of helping each other to reach the finish line; of showing true-sportsmanship. There were stories that showed the joy of a Chinese swimmer as she heard the news that she had exceeded her personal best, or the refugee who once swam to safety in her country–then swam to lead in her heat. Some of the most poignant moments for me were seeing a friends’ self-concepts beaming as their home-nations obtained their first medals.

At the core of these stories, is the belief that we can act in greatness in the face of hardship and seemingly unsurmountable hurdles (no pun intended). In this, our quest for something higher, we believe that perseverence is possible; that despite winners and losers we can all choose to succeed. It didn’t matter where the athlete was from, my friends shared these stories with me. Maybe the spirit in the games is the influence of the Holy Spirit teaching us to have joy in others’ successes and learn of the truth that we can participate in and achieve something wonderful with the rest of our brothers and sisters alongside us.

 

 

Will Mormons reject the new “softer” slasher films?

by Danny Stout

“Slasher” films are dubious at best in LDS circles, and outright rejected at worst. Opponents struggle to find redeeming value in violence-as-entertainment, while fans talk of high-tension thrills and chills, or the fun of “freaking out.” Three new movies, Hush, The Green Room, and the TV dramatic series, Slasher, are challenging the kitch-based ultra violent genre that’s kept us screaming, and, in some cases laughing, for decades. The brand-new works retain spurious elements of past slashers (e.g., story begins with youth trauma, followed by revenge, typically with metal weapons by the wounded protagonist that usually wears a hockey mask or other creepy costume), yet the recent works have depth, finer craftsmanship, and moral commentary. Filmmakers increasingly discard the pejorative “slasher” in favor of the euphemistic “psychological thriller” or “psychological horror film.”

Something like the slasher has been around for centuries. Peasants attending London’s Elizabethan Theater demanded murder slasher4from Shakespeare who delivered it in high doses, Hamlet being an example. Actors in a play bereft of death scenes were bombarded by rotten vegetables by a deliriously discontented audience. Today, “scary” movies function similarly to their fifteenth century progenitors of the stage. Religionists struggle to sort out the moral questions. That is, not all violence is as easily denounced as that in the brutal The Texas Chain Saw Massacre (1974). War movie Saving Private Ryan has a 30-minute scene of non-stop death, but is praised as a moral work. The Passion of Christ while lauded as a religious film, had bloodshed throughout as Mel Gibson strove for historical accuracy. Nevertheless, the “Slasher” pushes the limits of taste and morality.

The new films are more like Alfred Hitchcock‘s Psycho; they’re more morality tales than traditional slashers designed merely to exploit audience catharsis and adrenaline rushes. The shower scene murder was unprecedented, but the overall allegory is about conscience, repentance, and circumstances beyond one’s control. The Green Room, Hush, and Slasher while violent, have redeeming value beyond the traditional gore fests such as Halloween (1978), and Friday the 13th (1980). The three recent films are gory, but thoughtful; there’s fewer graphic scenes, emphasizing other dramatic elements, particularly character development and substantive plots, elevating moral themes.

In Hush, Maddie, a deaf writer played by Kate Siegel has an intruder hovering outside her remote cabin. His weapons include a machete and crossbow. Reading his lips, she decodes his message: “I’m not coming in until you want to die.” Murder is kept to a minimum because, thematically, the wonder of mind and spirit in outfoxing an overpowering foe is the gestalt. Conceding my reductionist take, the film deals with problem-solving in the wake of intense fear. While few of us will receive a visit from a deranged killer with a crossbow tonight, all have anxieties at various levels. In an impossible situation, Maddie finds a way to pause, think, and perhaps engage a higher power in discovering that fear, not the intruder, is the real threat.

The Green Room (i.e., chamber for performers before and after their acts) takes us into the punk rock culture, as the band, “The Ain’t Rights” reluctantly agree to play for neo-Nazi skinheads in a club outside Portland, Oregon. Opening their set with a song mocking Skinheads is the first mistake. Second, they witness a murder, and are locked in the Green Room; a roller coaster of rabid realism takes off. Like Hush, the violence is graphic, but not like Wes Craven‘s A Nightmare on Elm Street (1984) or Clive Barker‘s Hellraiser (1987).

Band members Sam, Pat, Tiger, and Reece give us a tour of punk life; the film takes on an ethnographic feel. Viewing it through an anthropological lens, the viewer is enlightened about the utility of punk community and its often misunderstood youth culture. Rituals such as “gobbing” (i.e., spitting at the band in appreciation) will intrigue uninformed audience members. How a functional subculture blends with a dysfunctional one such as the Skinheads is equally informative. Again, the violence, although salient, takes a backseat to the film’s engrossing setting.

Of the three, Slasher is truest to the genre in terms of frequency of meat cleaver deaths. Such is partly attributed to it being a dramatic series, and thus a longer story line. It also exceeds the sexuality quotient for LDS tastes. Nevertheless, Slasher is a whodunit focusing on who is killing as much as how. It works as mystery suspense in a traditional sense. Produced by the Canadian network Super Channel, Katie McGrath plays a newly wed returning to Waturbury, Ontario to uncover the story of her parents’ murder. It was the “Executioner,” following the List of The Seven Deadly Sins much like the movie, Seven. The tension builds gradually through the eight episodes with believable twists and surprises. It is a slasher – mystery hybrid.

Vacillating scenes from close-ups to distant shots of the town evoke the Hitchcockslasher technique of giving the viewer time to ponder. Campy elements reminiscent of older slashers add humor with lines like: “I’m beginning to think that moving back to Waterbury was a bad idea.” And “The hard work is going to be the death of you.” Slasher ostensibly is a commendable old fashioned mystery main course with a side order of gore.

Popularity of these films among LDS moviegoers is difficult to predict, but one thing is clear: The slasher genre is changing, and it will be increasingly difficult to assess as demonstrated by the films discussed. Moral values and assumptions of these works are not easily assessed. Whether one is better or worse having seen them cannot ne answered here, but all three have provoked mostly substantive discussion it seems.

“Trump-tainment:” Who Takes the Prize?

by Danny Stout

The Donald Trump media phenomenon is a postmodern blend of politics and theater. My comments are apolitical; they’re about the amusement of Trump. Who wins the prize for “Best Trump-tainment,” or journalism designed to donaldtrumphairflyinggratify, placing less emphasis on civic matters? Burgeoning audiences sustain this spectacle as the ratings skyrocket. More advertising revenue in the coffers. Commendable are those fleeing to the PBS News Hour, Charlie Rose, and the New York Times for issues-based news. Millions say no, however, enjoying Donald the barker over Trump the politician. Who can resist the bombastic barnstormer; no one like him has occupied the public square in a century. We’re drawn to spectacle; it’s as engaging as other media of pop culture (e.g., TV dramedy, movies, etc.), and it provides deserved relaxation at the end of a long day. Again, I don’t judge Donald Trump as a political candidate. How well media present him as a thespian is the only goal here. Hopefully, the frameworks for trump-tainment criticism will expand.

Trump isn’t the first candidate to rely on an entertainment-heavy campaign. Lincoln honed the art of sarcasm, and who can forget Reagan’s snarky comment that Jimmy Carter’s message on 60 Minutes only took one minute. FDR had a quick and dry wit, and to Teddy Roosevelt, political pundits were “copper-riveted idiots” and “circumcised skunks.” Responding to the question of why Calvin Coolidge decided not to seek re-election, he told Yankee magazine in 1897, “Because there’s no chance for advancement.”

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These candidates are light years from the drama and antics of Trump-tainment. Political issues dominated their speeches; Rough Rider Teddy Roosevelt, rousing as he was, is no match for the hurricane of name-calling, shouting, and screaming debates, not to mention physical altercations between protesters and campaign managers. Get the popcorn popping and Dr. Pepper flowing as we review programs depicting the spectacle in the style of Barnum and Bailey. “Step right up!”

Verbal pugilism is an apt starting point. Some 192f49a7f50a4eda4351fa7249b587e318d1aaf4call it aggression, some theatrics, but its sports-style coverage is in the same class as a UFC match. Kick-boxing isn’t nearly as compelling as a presidential candidate yell, “Throw em out! Throw em out!” Repeated video clips of Trump’s manager grabbing the shirt of a protester turned CNN into sportscasting. “Did you see that? He grabbed the protester’s collar!” The co-host responds, “No I think that was the man behind him; it’s hard to say there was physical contact.” Videos rolled again when the manager grabbed a journalist, bruising her arm. “No way! She attached him!” Trump screamed.

Then it happened. A Trump supporter sucker-punched a protester in the face as he climbed the stairs of an arena. CNN runs this tape again and again with commentators acting like boxing commentators. “Would you do it again?” the reporter asks the puncher, “Yeah, next time I’d kill him!” Trump’s response fuels the fire of the fight coverage. “If he’s sued, I’ll pay the legal costs,” Trump shouts. The best fight-coverage by journalists goes to CNN.

Winner for “most entertaining headlines,” is the New York Daily News going away. In New York, Chicago, Boston, and other major metro areas, the printed headline incites the day’s conversation. First, are the general Trump heads:

“DAWN OF THE BRAIN DEAD”

“MAKE AMERICA MIGRATE”

“CRUZ-IFIED”

“CLOWN RUNS FOR PREZ”

HIS endorsement by Sarah Palin inspired these headlines:

“I’M WITH STUPID!”

“LADY AND THE TRUMP”

Walking up to a Manhattan newsstand, you’re already chuckling. The hard-hitting, thought-provoking front pages that summarize the fight to the White House deserve our prize for Trump-tainment in the headline category.

There’s nothing more enjoyable than seeing a politician unprepared, especially when its about a major issue. Thus the prize for “Best Surprise Interview Question” goes to MSNBC’s Chris Mathews. On the matter of abortion, Trump was ill-prepared to the point where he boldly said women should be punished for abortions:

TRUMP: Are you Catholic?
MATTHEWS: Yes, I think …
TRUMP: And how do you feel about the Catholic Church’s position?
MATTHEWS: Well, I accept the teaching authority of my church on moral issues.
TRUMP: I know, but do you know their position on abortion?
MATTHEWS: Yes, I do.
TRUMP: And do you concur with the position?
MATTHEWS: I concur with their moral position but legally, I get to the question — here’s my problem with it …
(LAUGHTER)
TRUMP: No, no, but let me ask you: But what do you say about your church?
MATTHEWS: It’s not funny.
TRUMP: Yes, it’s really not funny. What do you say about your church? They’re very, very strong.
MATTHEWS: They’re allowed to — but the churches make their moral judgments, but you running for president of the United States will be chief executive of the United States. Do you believe …
TRUMP: No, but …
MATTHEWS: Do you believe in punishment for abortion, yes or no, as a principle?
TRUMP: The answer is that there has to be some form of punishment.
MATTHEWS: For the woman?
TRUMP: Yes, there has to be some form.

The top high-art donald-trump-blasts-worthless-daily-news-after-paper-mocks-his-zombie-supportersTrump-tainment prize is a three-way tie between filmmaker Michael Moore, Actress/Artist Tilda Swinton, and Eleanor Margolis of the StatesMan. They claim the entire Trump phenomenon is performance art. Intentional or not, they argue, the greatest value is in reading Trump as a character in a fictional narrative. Tilda Swinton, 2017 Turner Prize winner claims Trump is a post-9/11, post-ironic, pre-apocalyptic performance piece. Margolis wonders when the whole thing will be revealed as such an artwork, not reality.

Finally, the best YouTube Trump-tainment video captures the following quote:

“There may be somebody with tomatoes in the audience,” Trump warned people at a rally in Iowa last month. “If you see somebody getting ready to throw a tomato, knock the crap out of them, would you? Seriously. Okay? Just knock the hell — I promise you, I will pay for the legal fees.”

A close second goes to the New York Post video of former Trump wife Ivana reacting to his deportation-oriented stance on immigration: “Who is going to vacuum our floors and clean our living rooms?”

Naming an overall donald trump sarah palin 2winner is impossible given its complexity and multiple dimensions. Is it ethical to recognize something like Trump-tainment? There’s something uneasy in watching a presidential race like a situation comedy or a dramedy, or a reality show. Even more compelling is that Trump is seen as an actor, not a statesman nor candidate for the most powerful position in the world. If he was, journalists would insist on more than the superficial rhetoric he dishes out. But, that’s no fun! Yet it’s sad. I laugh, but get that twinge of anxiety intermittently. Snapping out of it, I say to myself, “He’s fighting for the forgotten people by Washington; those crushed by the 2008 economic crash. Perhaps an entertainer can do no worse. Then, I’m, reminded of David Brooks in the New York Times: “Trump’s supporters deserve respect. They are left out of this economy. But Trump himself? No, not Trump, not ever.” For president, that is. As an entertainer, he’s even better than Jimmy Kimmel.