I just don’t understand why anyone is surprised that Donald Trump is the Republican front-runner at the moment in the 2016 Presidential race, despite his average performance at last Wednesday’s CNN debate. Donald is a celebrity, a B-list celebrity, but a celebrity nonetheless and we are a nation obsessed with fame and all things Hollywood. America might have once been the land of milk and honey, but now this American phrase only has meaning to us if celebrities are adding them to their tea. Thanks to the Internet and omnipresent Paparazzi, we know intimate details about celebrity lives and yet place them on an untouchable pedestal in a holier than thou place. It is a strangely deep relationship that exists between us ordinary people and these seemingly extraordinary ones, yet it is a relationship nonetheless. And, whether you like it or not, Donald Trump – in all his coiffed hair and raving mad glory – is using this fact to his advantage and truly relating to the American people.
You may disagree with me about the root cause of The Donald’s meteoric political surge, but after recent events here in Brookline it is hard to argue against the assertion that celebrity trumps all (no pun intended) in our society. Late last Tuesday afternoon, as I entered Brookline Village on my way to pick up my daughter, I was greeted by the deafening sounds of a mini-fleet of helicopters hovering directly overhead. My heart sank. I instantly thought the worst – shooting, explosion, hostage crisis, fire – and nervously took out my phone to find out what the heck was going on. To my relief, I learned that not tragedy, but Hollywood had hit Brookline. The Coolidge Corner Theatre was screening the film ”Black Mass” and the red carpet was being rolled out for the stars of the movie including Johnny Depp, Jesse Plemons, Julianne Nicholson, and Dakota Johnson. For hours, the loud droning of the helicopter rotors continued and police stood guard at major intersections along Harvard and Beacon streets to redirect traffic and calm nerves. I could not help but think of all the resources that were being squandered to produce a protective bubble around and get the perfect pictures of a handful of Hollywood stars who were ironically promoting a movie about one of Boston’s most deadly and notorious criminals.
This is sadly what our world has come to. The exploits and interruptions surrounding Johnny Depp’s visit to Brookline showed us on a local level why Donald Trump’s image and brand is resonating so strongly on a national one. The American public needs to turn off reality television and literally get back to reality. They need to stop their adoration of and blind allegiance to individuals who play roles on grand stages and screens verses serving as true role models in daily life. Until we change our mindset, there is actually a chance that Mr. Trump could hear his own famous phrase, “You’re hired,” in November of 2016. Being the ever hopeful American that I am, I believe we can change as a nation and people. But the clock is ticking.
~ Casey Hassenstein