Media, political parties, political analysts and pundits, popular culture and just about any person you talked to in the US or abroad laughed off the Donald Trump presidential candidacy as a joke. Whether because Trump himself would lose interest, because it was such an outlandish proposition that it seemed impossible, because eventually he’d go too far and no one would stand for it any longer, because people love sensationalized stuff (they do, after all, love drama and reality television), because one of the “serious” candidates would surge ahead, everyone chose to ignore what was unfolding. And they chose to ignore the real-world precedent of the laughed-off, joke candidate who swept into power and did real damage.
World history is full of examples (Ronald Reagan was just a bad actor), but I think back again to watching the Italian TV series, 1992, which explored the idea of Berlusconi as an unlikely, laughable political leader (and its joking about how that would be as ridiculous as a Schwarzenegger political career…). No one seems to heed the warnings of these previous disasters, and we are doomed to repeat what we have not learned from.
Growing up – and still – I had a lot of pen pals. It seemed that penmanship was a national trait in many countries. Every French person formed their letters and numbers in the same way. Every German, every Russian, every Italian, too. Unique handwriting for each person, but you could always tell from the envelope and the way the letters looked what country the letter came from.
I wondered the other day, as I watched the surprisingly good (for the most part) Italian TV drama 1992, about the soundtrack. It fit its time perfectly – but I wondered how many Italians at that time were really listening to most of the stuff included? Screaming Trees (the one song on the Singles soundtrack) – yes. Smashing Pumpkins – probably. But Teenage Fanclub and Primal Scream… eh, I have my doubts. There were not THAT many people listening to those bands anywhere, let alone in Italy (a place I perhaps unfairly judge in matters of pop culture). Or did I see this through my own faraway prism, imagining that because Fanclub and Scream were indie/off-the-beaten-path where I came from, they also were for everyone else?
I don’t let Italy fool me and do have many good Italian friends who also have great taste (in music, too), but images of Berlusconi, the ridiculous bimbo-filled TV game/variety shows and crap like Eros Ramazzotti (or other things I cannot identify) always spring to mind. Maybe some of these trusted Italian friends can set my biases straight. Were people really getting that down to the sounds of early 90s Glasgow bands? (I grant you – the show only included the two best-known songs from these bands – but it still surprised me.)