Before the festivities started at the Republican Convention yesterday, television host Stephen Colbert -- channeling the late Johnny Carson's clairvoyant, The Amazing Kreskin -- stole the podium. Before being yanked off stage, Colbert gaveled to start "The Hungry for Power Games." Funny made sharp with a shard of truth.
Last night's GOP crowning of Donald Trump drew heavily (not plagiarized, as Melania Trump's speech) from "Hunger Games": the 2012 dystopian sci-fi drama; a hu-uge film and maybe the greatest movie ever made.
The Cleveland audience was eager to be ginned up. Upturned faces filled with grievance, anger, and conviction.
In "Hunger Games", the heroine navigates a series of deadly challenges that pit character and strength, good versus evil, while an audience watches an intimate video of battlefield simulacrums. Survival is a test, we all know! The games are supervised by a political cult savvy to the attractions of the colosseum. The masses need entertainments, diversion and distractions.
That's what it felt like to watch the Republican convention in Cleveland last night. "Hunger Games" brought to life.
One has to admire Donald Trump's huge success in overlaying a reality television template on Republican Party canards. It got him pretty darn far.
Trump found the lowest common denominator of conservatism with the unerring accuracy of a diviner holding a fork branch to PT Barnum's gold. In addition to being a legendary 19th circus impresario, Barnum was also a successful politician. Trump wiped out his competition -- low-energy Jeb Bush, small Marco Rubio, John Kasich, Chris Christie and the rest because substance is for losers, and he guessed -- correctly it turned out -- that even Republican voters are sick and tired of what passes for substance in their own political party.
With Trump, beyond the bluster, there is nothing but empty space. It is how he did business and how he does politics. Everything will be decided later when he gets to sit down across the table with the Mexicans and the Chinese. Trust me, shit is even worse than Fox News says it is.
The Trump convention began the same day that the inter web lit with rumors of the imminent departure from Fox News of its long-time chief; Roger Ailes.
If Trump is our generation's PT Barnum, Ailes is the Wizard in the "Wizard of Oz". But malicious. The network has made billions for the Murdoch family empire by exploiting human frailties and weakness. Trump is the purest distillation of Fox in its appeal to anger, grievances of history, distortion of fact and the "everything is bad" faction of the Republican Party.
The convictions and certainties that Ailes crafted through his programming and TV personalities, are similarly built on bluster, conspiracies, and a willingness to bind truth to single-step epoxy of corporate profits. "Fair and Balanced" has been a hu-uuge success, maybe the greatest in the history of mankind.
Lee Atwater -- the progenitor of modern GOP politics and late mentor to Roger Ailes -- promoted the idea of the GOP "Big Tent" in the run-up to Ronald Reagan, of inclusiveness and respect to diversity but he knew it all to be a lie; the same big tent PT Barnum used to lure 19th century circus-goers and the same lie as the cult leaders in "Hunger Games".
As a meme for the Republican Party, "Hunger Games" will have a short shelf life. The world need not worry. There are enough Trump supporters to fill an auditorium in Cleveland, but the Republican Party can't sell fiction to a majority of American voters. Some day perhaps, but like the good ole boys say, "This dog will not hunt." Not in 2016.