There’s a lot of debate on who ruined journalism. Was it Buzzfeed with its inane listicles? Was it Vice trying to find the perfect intersectionality between crime, minority rights and substance use? Maybe it was Fox News which realised that you didn’t need to cover anything if you showed a bunch of white guys screaming at one another?
Or perhaps it was the guy who discovered the format that is now known as the Vox Populi. One of the downsides of democratising society has been giving everyone a voice.
And while everyone does deserve a voice on basic issues like board and clothing, we really don’t need to know what the everyman thinks of topics that require high expertise like epidemiology, crude oil prices, diplomacy or theoretical physics.
You don’t need a TV journalist – who probably has a PhD in African studies if ze is privileged – to ask the man on the street if he thinks gravitational waves exist? His opinion on gravitational waves is as immaterial as his belief in the existence of ghosts.
Yet, we persisted so that the guy who used to shout ‘You are Fired’ at Miss Universe pageants now has access to nuclear codes and is supposed to lead the ‘greatest nation on earth’ amid a pandemic, when he’s not fit to lead the HR’s annual Rangoli contest.
Trump’s solutions for coronavirus has vacillated from the incoherent to the insane. But even he outdid himself when he suggested injecting disinfectants might be a solution. We literally saw Trump come up with the solution while staring at a board like Keyser Soze in The Usual Suspects, we could almost hear the gears in his head churning as he stared at the board.
As comedian Dan Wilburn noted: “This photo is incredible. You can see the idea percolating in his mind. “Why has no one thought of this. The answer is right in front of us. I will say it. I’ll be the hero we need.”"
What is truly amazing is Trump thinks he’s a ‘stable genius’. He’s not just the guy with the best words, he’s the guy who thinks he knows more about everything than everyone else.
He is one-of-an-era, a Nietzschean Ubermensch handpicked by God (who probably ran out of locusts) and can get away with anything. To quote the POTUS: “I am the President and you are fake news.”
He can solve the coronavirus pandemic; he can find a solution for North Korea. He can put Iran in its place. He is the Chosen One who only needs to enter the system to solve it.
In that sense, a man who thinks he is a polymath is not unlike many of his detractors on Twitter who become overnight experts on everything from oil to data to as he used the sarcasm card.
What is the sarcasm card?
It’s simple. When cornered on social media for your stupid hot takes, simply claim that you were joking or being sarcastic.
That’s what the president did when he said: “I was asking a sarcastic — and a very sarcastic question — to the reporters in the room about disinfectant on the inside. But it does kill it, and it would kill it on the hands and that would make things much better. That was done in the form of a sarcastic question to the reporters.”
Sarcasm probably isn’t the best idea when one considers that there exists things like the Tide Pod Challenge. We are talking about people who shoot at hurricanes to make them turn! America has shown its innate ability for being dumb.
My favourite example is from the time Kodak released a camera called The Weekender. A host of people called up the company to ask if it was okay to use it on weekdays.
Now the true problem with Trump is he embodies the worst of the nation, the NASCAR-watching WWE-loving, God-fearing, country-music loving denizens.
This means that in the US, in the great state of Florida, the WWE is actually an essential service.
What other civilised country tries to force through creationism as a science, has that many flat-earthers and anti-vaxxers, demands funerals for foetuses and thinks that real football is rugby played by pansies in knight-like body armour.
We are talking about people who think chocolate milk comes from brown cows, and have the temerity to laugh at Hindus for considering the animal sacred!
Saying it is sarcasm a day later is too dangerous for a nation of COVIDidiots, where dumb college kids, celebrating spring break in Florida said and I quote verbatim: “If I get coronavirus, I get coronavirus.”
The problem is, it’s not just the idiot getting coronavirus, it’s everyone else around him too.
In a post-capitalist consumerist society, the number of idiots appears to be directly proportional to the comfort of living. Trump has proved beyond reasonable doubt that not only is democracy severely contaminated, if not broken, but we’ve managed to create a society where the biggest fool can convince a pool of fools that he’s cool.
He also destroyed the so-called idea of checks and balances of American democracy, showing that the other estates just can’t control him. Trump also showed the so-called strongest democracy in the world can be hoodwinked by a bunch of Russian bots.
A rejoinder from India
A word for India. Not to sound jingoistic or nationalist but India has been doing far better than the naysayers predicted with dodgy epidemiology models. Yet, the reaction from the international press appears to be one of disbelief almost lamenting the lack of bodies. Reuters did a piece wondering why funeral homes weren’t overflowing, even getting teary eyed over the lack of deaths and wondering if the funeral business would suffer. It was reminiscent of the time when a bridge being built would elicit sob pieces on boatmen losing their jobs.
Maybe its BCG, maybe its HLA diversity, maybe it’s the lockdown. The curves in Asia and Africa are definitely flatter than the contraband beer people are bootlegging in India amid the lockdown.
Perhaps it’s the virus being scared of us for lathering everything with schezwan chutney and coming up with abominations and hybrids like Chinese bhel, chilli chicken rolls and schezwan masala dosa but for whatever reason the virus has gone easier on us. It would be nice if the foreign press stopped lamenting over the lack of dead Indians.
Read: Other Nonsensical Nemo columns
Ever since he was a kid, Nirmalya Dutta always dreamt he would be the new Bob Dylan. Sadly, he soon realised, he was only a freewheeling brat asking his dad for freebies.
The author is the Web Editor the Free Press Journal and tweets at @nirmalyadutta23.