Colin Kaepernick, Donald Trump and the celebrity wealth mindset
September 22, 2016
For the past 18 months our country has been seated front and center at the end result of what a capitalistic society has rendered. Americans are conditioned to think success and wealth are the hallmarks of character and leadership. Mix that in with our obsession with celebrity, so much so that we value a person’s opinion based on how much we value their celebrity. Dave Chappelle, a gifted living legend comedic genius in my opinion, made this point in a fantastic joke that a cable news channel will ask Ja Rule for his opinion on a crises-the joke was punctuated when several years later Fox Business asked Ja Rule for his opinion on Baltimore riots. Chappelle’s joke was about how we ask celebrity to provide an analysis on something they are totally unqualified to give. The perfect storm is that if someone is wealthy, a known celebrity, and face it- a white male; their opinions become even more important in our everyday utility of our lives.
Part of twitters unique function is how we get to have a somewhat connection with our celebrities. It is designed to give us an unfettered access to the opinions, statements and mental of our favorite celebrities. We follow them for their opinions. It was in its creation the quintessential American ideal that was of course until the development of the Trump phenomenon. But, before we get into that I want to talk about a subject that has also swallowed up the American talking point air, San Francisco Quarterback Colin Kaepernick and his stance on (or lack thereof) during the National Anthem. I have taken my time on commenting on the subject because I wanted to see what the national conversation would be. As was expected there were some who commented on the fact that he was allowed to exhibit his freedom of expression. Of course you had others that were not only offended by Kaepernicks’ actions, but felt that since he was rich from playing an American sport he should be grateful for such a financial stable situation. It was almost as if his wealth should dictate the type of opinion he should be required to make. If you are not seeing the irony (some might say privilege) in making such a statement. What is interesting is that Colin is not the first ‘major sport’ athlete (former Denver Nuggets guard Mahmoud Abdul-Rauf) OR even the only athlete in these past two weeks who hasn’t stood for the anthem. What made Kaepernick special is that he is doing it within Americas most popular sport, at the most notable position. Football has for all intents and purposes, replaced baseball as the top American sport. In fact, the NFL is by many accounts a very conservative institution-meaning unlike their NBA counterpart, they have not adopted the urban America’s culture, spirit or expression . The last interesting point regarding the Kaepernick situation, surrounds his celebrity. You think the media would care if he was some regular arena league player who makes 60k a year? I think not. Face it’s his status both social and monetary that is driving the conversation, nothing more, nothing else.
Back to the Republican Nominee, I have written before that part of Trumps ascension into the American populous is fueled by our reality T.V. obsession-consumption. Trump being a reality T.V. personality made him a known commodity. People were already comfortable with the idea of his personality in a leadership capacity; it’s s why with each increasing week during hey-day of The Apprentice. Viewers tuned in to hear the term, “You’re Fired” and not only to hear, but to see how he would deliver the term. We tuned into the show because we felt it gave us a front row seat on how this business man ran his business. Each week as we received (and became more comfortable with) his opinions, in the world of business, and to some it read like gospel. The end result, as people became more and more comfortable with his opinion (in business), some felt that since he has answer for this problem, he may have an answer for every (specifically my) problem. His celebrity provided validation to his ability to offer an opinion on every subject, even ones he clearly is not well versed in. The other obvious validation in peoples eyes came from his financial success. His wealth became a sounding board for those who supported him, how often do hear “since he is a successful business man, he can make money for our country”. Like for some reason being an expert in real estate obviously gives you insight on world diplomacy. There are so many contributing factors to a person becoming wealthy in this world, the very least of them have to do with high levels of intelligence. Our society may not necessarily look down on someone who is poor, but we are not asking that same financially distressed person the fundamental keys of life. A society based on capitalistic success is not set up to honor a person’s opinion who cannot learn how to turn a buck. This is one of the many reasons why Obama’s ascension into the presidency was such an aberration, he came from a financially humble background but, yet still he came from Harvard University, a bastion of American elitism. So sure there is a special gift in the art of making money, but being gifted in one thing does not mean you’re gifted in another. If that is the case then you will agree with me that Dave Chappell is also a qualified person to run for office.