Tuesday 6 December 2016

TV reviews: The Mad World of Donald Trump and Ray D'Arcy Show

* The Mad World of Donald Trump, Channel4
* Ray D'Arcy Show, RTE One

Published 30/01/2016 | 02:30

Donald Trump: No attempt on programme to explain why he has become so popular.
Donald Trump: No attempt on programme to explain why he has become so popular.

Where do you stand on Donald Trump?

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No, really, where do you stand on him? His head? His neck? His mouth?

I only ask because there are plenty of interwebby cartoons and games where you get to choose which parts of Trump you'd like to batter first.

That's all well and good - Trump is a big boy. Well, he used to be before he had his truly epic hissy fit over Megyn Kelly and decided to pull out of last night's Fox News debate (unless he decided to turn up after all, but this is filed a few hours before the debate was due to take place, there's not much I can do about that).

My point, though, is that the very people who immediately denounce any criticism of Hillary Clinton as automatically sexist seem to have no problem engaging in fantasy games about the kind of damage they would like to inflict on the bumptious billionaire.

That's exactly the spectacular double standard we last experienced when Obama was running against Bush.

Any caricature of Bush was fair game (he was invariably portrayed as mentally retarded, or evil. Or both) while anything lobbed in Obama's direction was obviously racist.

That glaring, gargantuan hypocrisy is back in full swing as we gear up to the first of the Primaries and Channel 4 was quick to get stuck into The Donald with Matt Frei's Channel 4 special, The Mad World Of Donald Trump.

Frei is always an engaging and entertaining presenter, regardless of whether you agree with his politics or not, and thankfully, there was no spurious attempt at balance or giving both sides of the story.

This was, instead, an occasionally entertaining, if pointedly skewed hit job, which managed to make both the man and his supporters look like ridiculous buffoons.

Of course, it's not that difficult to make anything emerging from America look ridiculous and buffoonish but Frei took to his task with relish - Trump was portrayed variously as a dangerous nutter; a man who may have raped his first wife (until they read a statement from said woman denying the claims); a rich boy done bad; and did I mention dangerous nutter?

The problem with this approach was that it was guilty of the very accusation it was levelling at its subject - being utterly devoid of any nuance or complexity whatsoever.

There was nothing new to be learned here. Everybody knows that he came from wealthy stock. We were already well aware that his behaviour in Scotland was increasingly nasty, and, of course, we all know about his various verbal assaults on the aforementioned Kelly, prisoners of war and, most unpleasantly, his mocking mimicry of a disabled reporter. So, this was basically a potted history of Trump's various outrages against common decency. But this was Comfort TV and much like comfort food, was designed to provide reassurance to the consumer.

In this case, it was made to reassure the viewers that they were right, all along, to think Trump is an idiot and his supporters are thick.

There was no attempt to explain why he has become so popular. There was no effort to talk to his more reasoned supporters - of which there are many, despite what you will see in the Irish media.

There was, instead, lots of emphasis on how his supporters are ludicrously, comically, vein-bulgingly angry.

Why are they so angry?

After all, Frei compares Trump's sturm und drang approach with Obama's more palatable 'hope and change' without conceding that it was 'hope and change' that directly contributed to making America a worse place than it was eight years ago. And it wasn't great then, either.

The Mad World Of Donald Trump was successful in its primary objective - reminding cosy liberal viewers that they are so much smarter than everyone else.

Let's put it this way, yesterday's lead letter in this very paper was illustrative of the smug dismissal of the man and his followers, verbosely sneering that: "In contradistinction, Hilary Clinton's evocation of the 'better angels of our nature' in the service of coalition-building, may have the righteous verisimilitude to be appealing."

You wanna know why so many people are going to vote Trump?

Because of letters like that.

I imagine Ray D'Arcy has spent most of this week in a state of Olympic huffiness.

I mentioned before that once the mob decides your time is up, your time is up and now Saturday night has become Twitter night for every bed-wetting saddo who has nothing better to do than go on social media to give him a furious kicking.

That goes with the territory, of course, and it must bounce off him at this stage.

But ye Gods, that interview last week really was as bad as the chin-strokers claimed.

Dean Strang was the guest that everybody wanted. Charismatic, driven, committed, he was one of the few people to emerge from Making A Murderer with his reputation enhanced rather than eternally ruined.

But watching that interview was like watching the worst gay blind date of all time. As Strang visibly wondered what the hell he was doing there, D'Arcy floundered uncontrollably to such an excruciating degree that one thought did occur to me - the next time someone smugly slags American telly, remind them of this car crash.

Irish Independent

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