Since the election of he-who-must-not-be-named, I've heard plenty of blame to go around for this surprising upset victory. The uneducated white working class. The Millennials. Bernie supporters. Johnson voters. Putin. And, of course, the media has been getting the brunt of it -- much of it, rightly so.
But what if The Apprentice is really to blame?
Although Hollywood is largely thought of as this liberal oasis (or hell, depending on your own political perspective), it's business practices are often times anything but. I've yet to see another industry that suffers worse numbers in regards to racial, gender and age discrimination.
Although I will acknowledge some of the bias is unconscious because we've all been socialized in a patriarchal society that glorifies youth, a sizable slice of blame should still be attributed to conscious business decisions.
These conscious business decisions are always (and yes, I just said always) about money because without money, you literally have no way for the show to go on.
And for the money to come in so the show can go on, you must have an audience.
And, of course, we've all recently learned that about half the audience out there are desperately clinging to the good ole days when America was supposedly better but certainly whiter with less equality for all.
So I do acknowledge the conundrum that Hollywood finds itself in and why it often bends it's own personal principles to bow down to the almighty dollar by producing almost exclusively whitewashed content featuring young male-driven stories.
But the fact of the matter is there are real consequences whenever anyone -- even supposedly harmless entertainment -- puts business before ethics, which is exactly what the producers of The Apprentice did when they edited out unsavory and unflattering footage of their so-called real estate magnate host.
When Producer Mark Burnett brought Trump onto The Apprentice, his business reputation was suffering from the staggering billion-dollar loss that now famously allowed him to avoid federal taxation for about two decades and his personal reputation was at an all time low due to his extramarital affair with Marla Maples, back during a time when society frowned upon that behavior and didn't chalk it up to locker room talk.
Out of all the successful businessmen in the world, why would you choose to align yourself with this one? Why should anybody have valued a mentorship opportunity with a Mr. Loser with NINE ZEROES OF LOSSES behind him? Why this guy?
Because, despite his bumps, Trump was still a recognizable name associated with wealth. And the producers of The Apprentice made a conscious decision to capitalize on that image regardless of the ruse they had to pull off to do it.
Several past employees of the TV show came out fully admitting that footage like the discovered material from Access Hollywood was plentiful. Burnett stated that MGM ownership and artist contracts as the reasons he couldn't release them for public viewing. But every week, they actively chose to perpetuate and mold his image by selectively editing out all footage that made Trump look anything but the utmost business mentor.
Because, a good educated guess is that they reasoned if they actually showed the illogical, sexist, racist "reality" of their host caught on tape, they wouldn't have had a successful reality TV show. And all that matters is that the show goes on and the money rolls in, right?
But is it okay to lie to make money just because it's under the category of entertainment?
Does one have a moral obligation to actually portray reality, if you're going to call your product Reality TV?
After all, the stories we choose to tell are not harmless. On the contrary, they are extremely influential in shaping our attitudes and decisions about everything in life. Research has even shown that people's opinions about government can change within the short span of viewing one film.
Shouldn't Hollywood take that kind of influence a little more seriously?
Now I can also guess that Burnett never dreamed his movie magic on the small screen would lead to the type of consequences that actually transpired this past November. But that doesn't mean he should be totally off the hook. There's a reasonable expectation that a person -- many people, in fact -- would rely to their own determent on the strong and smart Trump business brand Burnett helped build with the continued airing of The Apprentice.
Unfortunately for us, those people I'm referring to are now the United States of America and we've been taken by this conman without even a popular consensus.
But it still wouldn't feel so bad if Burnett had at least learned his lesson. Everyone is entitled to make a mistake. And again, who would have thought America could be conned so easily when the president-elect's swarmy ways and redundant lies were documented on tape over and over again?
But then I find out they now have Arnold Schwarznegger as their new host.
I don't have anything totally against the Terminator. I've definitely enjoyed many of his films. But as a business mentor?
Schwarznegger, although a wealthy businessman, had an extramarital affair and a secret child with the housekeeper for years right in front of his own wife's nose. And let's not forget, his celebrity-journalist wife is from one of the most cherished American families in history. Is this the kind of guy you want mentoring your kid? Remember there are plenty of successful businessmen that don't succumb to such a low level of deceit against those they supposedly cherish the most.
I don't know? Is it just me or does it sound like Burnett just doesn't get it? This is especially disappointing considering he was awarded the Norman Lear Award from the Producers Guild of America. I can't think of any producer more unlike Lear at the moment.
But, in the end, blaming Burnett isn't going to do much -- unless it affects his bankroll.
And one thing I'm certain about is that I want my son to have better business mentors than those on display on The Apprentice. I want him to be influenced by brilliant business minds with a moral compass both inside and outside the boardroom. I want him to look up to men that treat women respectfully so, it goes without saying, we will not be watching Burnett's TV show.