Monday, May 21, 2007

Donald Trump 's pop-culture wars

Donald Trump, Donald Trump. The Donald. Icon of 80's excess. A man who has made, lost, and made back millions of dollars. A man whose love for money is seemingly only exceeded by his love for himself.

In the past few months, The Donald has been involved in very public and very pointless feuds with Rosie O'Donnell, Vince McMahon, and Mark Cuban. Perhaps pointless is the wrong word - after all, it keeps his name in the public consciousness, and a man with an ego as large as his surely believes in the mantra that "there is no such thing as bad publicity". And Trump has experienced his share of bad publicity, from his high profile divorce to his declaring of bankruptcy. As well, the creation and subsequent overexposure of the Trump brand (Trump the Game, Trump shoulderbags, The Apprentice), a predictable offshoot of the 80's excess that brought him to public fame, have long had an air of overkill about them. Yet he keeps getting his name in the press.

What purpose do these so-called feuds serve, besides self-gratification? Let's take them one by one:

Rosie: When lascivious pictures of the winner of whichever beauty pageant Trump promotes made their way onto the internet, there was a hue and cry about the morals of these young ladies. Trump made a big show about taking the matter seriously, followed by forgiveness. Rosie piped in, saying Trump was in no position to judge another's morality due to his bankruptcy. The feud escalated as best it could, but in today's News McNuggets world, it faded within a week. So why did Trump pick a fight with Rosie? Well, he had to defend his role in both beauty pageants and mentoring young folk. Also, Rosie being Rosie, she is an easy target to pick on - very liberal and very outspoken are positions easy to attack. Anytime you insult Rosie, you'll likely get the radio equivalent of a high five from morning zoo programs 'round the U.S. In the battle for the public heart, calling someone a fat lesbian whose partner you will steal away wins you more points than pointing out unethical business practices. And in the all-important Male 18-24/18-34 demographic, it never hurts to be on the side of beautiful girls who allow naughty pictures of them to be taken.

McMahon: Like Trump,Vince McMahon, chief Pooh-bah of World Wrestling Entertainment, made his name in the 1980's. WWE's popularity took off in the 90's, as the mix of trailer park operas and staged violence found an audience the Fox Network would love. I do not know what caused the supposed rift between Trump and McMahon, only that each put his hair(piece) on the line in a cage match to be fought by wrestlers of their own choosing. No one in there right mind would have though Trump would end up bald - for one thing, his pride wouldn't allow him to 'lose' the match - and sure enough, the comb-over remains intact. I do not consider this to be a feud, per se, but a simple ploy for attention. After all, wrestling fans need millionaires to champion, too!

Cuban: When Mark Cuban's Dallas Mavericks were eliminated in the 2nd round of the NBA playoffs, after posting the league's best record during the regular season, Trump chimed in with comments to the extent that Cuban isn't a winner and doesn't know how to be one. He also pointed out how Cuban's reality show never got off the ground, while The Apprentice has lasted, what, 5 season? (albeit with declining ratings). Cuban fired back on his blog with some personal attacks that I won't reiterate here (I would post a link, but it seems the entry is no longer available. Hmm...a brief summary can be found here, though).

This fight smacks of Bully vs Geek, with Mark Cuban, the man who parlayed his radio streaming internet service into a coupe of billion Yahoo! dollars, playing the role of Geek. After all, he made his money by creating a web service, he's young, and he prefers '90s-style ostentatiousness to '80s-style. Also, Cuban has a sports franchise, and in the US, and what's more manly than owning a professional sports team? (Disclosure: Trump owned a USFL team - that's USFL, the league that went bankrupt suing the NFL). Plus, Cuban has his own hair.

I doubt this is a fight Trump can win - Cuban knows the internet, and he knows business. Should it come down to whipping up public support, Cuban gets the youth/internet vote. Trump gets the wrestling crowd as well as the sycophants. Go Cuban!

So why does this man with wealth and women at his beck and call feel the need to engage in these petty disputes? It all comes down to character. The same drive that took Trump to the pinnacle of wealth still drives him, only now he has to look for enemies. It honestly wouldn't surprise me if he is on the road to paranoia, but I think it's more likely an ego thing.


Anonymous said...

I think you are correct with road to paranoia - Trump is clearly a very insecure man and rightfully so, he is over weight, bald, and leveraged up to the eyeballs with loans from the bank. I doubt the man has any real wealth or accomplishment. Cuban is an entrepreneur that did not have daddy's help or help from the government - Trump is a fraud.

Pearly said...

Interesting to know.