“A cynic is a man who knows the price of everything and the value of nothing” – Oscar Wilde
In the world of entertainment, there are few things as sought after as crossover appeal. Whether it’s a musician who reaches into the realm of acting, like Madonna, or a man like Frank Sinatra who was famed on stage and screen, it’s an uncommon thing for a celebrity to be equally successful in more than one field. In the fourth season of the TV series 30 Rock, star Tracy Morgan even lampoons the concept, wearing a necklace bearing the acronym ‘EGOT’ to refer to his nearly unattainable desire for an Emmy, a Grammy, an Oscar and a Tony.
In recent years, the idea of crossover appeal has taken even more desperate hold. Whether it’s a measure of talent or capital, there are few things that can’t be shilled for, and few that won’t participate in the shilling. The Kardashians have a show on E! and have published books, created beauty products and sponsored energy drinks. Television personality Bethenny Frankel entered the mainstream on The Real Housewives of New York and has since released a brand of cocktails, had multiple TV shows, and written books about fitness, self-help and cooking. In a hyper-consumer culture, this might now be the norm, but what does it dictate about our mindset?
The latest reality star to engulf the mainstream, a man who has had his name on everything from mattresses to bottled water to hotels to steaks, is of course none other than Donald Trump. We’re all sick of hearing about him and talking about him, but in lassoing the power of his name, Trump has now managed to become a part of presidential history, something that couldn’t have been imagined even a year ago. It is a feat that overwhelmingly endorses the reach of hyper-capitalism while simultaneously distorting what it means to be President…of anything really.