About a month ago, I said that I couldn't tell if movies were being serious or not in an article based mostly on the idea that the difference between loving movies like Fast Five genuinely and loving them ironically was completely imperceptible to me (largely because I wouldn't know how to love something ironically, especially if that "something" was "butts and explosions"). When Fast Five thrilled critics and finished their opening weekend at No. 1, I decided to stop paying attention to movies for a while and start focusing on the real world.
Turns out it's worse.
If you spend any time in the world, you probably know that zombies have been a pretty big thing lately. In the Zombie Renaissance that has taken place over the last decade or so, we've seen plenty of zombie movies, zombie merchandise, some zombie-related articles, a hit zombie TV show, a functionally idiotic zombie TV show and countless zombie-related books. Hell, even our New York Timesbest-selling book took advantage of this whole zombie craze.
"Buying this book will make your junk more appealing to other people." -- Scientists
Recently, the real-life Centers for Disease Control and Prevention decided to get in on the zombie fever that was spreading through the nation (and devouring its brains) by throwing up a goofy, official CDC-approved "Zombie Preparedness Kit" that, according to the CDC's site, will tell you exactly how to "prepare for a zombie apocalypse."
It's a joke (obviously).The kit is just a general disaster-preparedness kit -- the kind that anyone expecting an incoming disaster should have. [Sidebar.] There's nothing specific to zombies in the kit, they're just being cute. The CDC is dressing up helpful information so that it spreads around the Internet and builds buzz or whatever it is that things do. And it worked. That link was everywhere. I wrote a video about zombies and worked on a book with "Zombie" in the title, which means everyone I've ever met in the world sent me this link. Someone on the CDC's marketing or PR team is kind of clever; for the first time in a long time, the Internet was talking about the Center. With this little stunt, the CDC had gone viral.
But here's my question: Why the shit should the Centers for freaking Disease Control and Prevention care about going viral? I get that the Internet is a big huge thing, and a lot of people spend a lot of time online -- but that doesn't mean every business and organization needs to try to connect with the Internet on its level, especially an organization that's genuinely important. Look, T-Mobile is going to try to appeal to the online crowd, and Old Spice is going to hire Tim and Eric to make ads that go viral, because these are companies for which being cool, staying hip and connecting with a younger crowd is important. That should not be on the CDC's list of priorities. The CDC exists to help idiots, not impress them with cheeky, viral, publicity stunts. If I get bitten by a poisonous snake, I don't want to check the CDC's website and find a bunch of tongue-in-cheek Internet bullshit jokes tied into Snakes on a Plane, I want a step-by-step guide to getting snake poison out of my favorite body.
If my friend passes out because he thought he might get high by snorting a combination of ammonia and whatever's in a lava lamp [Sidebar], I need to be able click on an emergency link on the CDC's website knowing that it won't try to RickRoll me.
I know the Internet has stripped irony of all meaning and nothing really needs to be taken seriously on here, but that's just because we're all a bunch of jerkoffs. The CDC is run by the government. It's not supposed to be funny or hip or culturally "with it," especially when culture is at its absolute silliest (pretending zombies are real/still funny). Since when did the government need to dumb itself down to keep up with the rest of culture? Oh, hey -- speaking of the government and stupidity ...
In 2010, entrepreneur/reality show star/businessgoblin Donald Trump announced that he was considering running for president. Of the United States. Of America. Host of Celebrity Apprentice, Donald Trump. Sleazy, morally bankrupt and at-one-time-just-regular-bankrupt Donald Trump. He wanted to be President Trump, even though "trump," as a word, sounds like it should be slang for that sometimes flabby part of the body where the under-ass rubs up against the back of the leg. Like, "We were making out behind the shed at the mini-golf place and I was grabbin' her butt, but I had to quit because this chick had mad trump-sweat. It was gross." He said he wanted to run for president.
And we just ... let him. He had a bunch of asinine things to say regarding a position for which he was objectively unqualified, and we gave him a microphone. We had him not on our entertainment shows, but on our political shows, and we gave him a podium and listened to him spew bullshit. We took him seriously enough that we conducted public opinion polls about his possible candidacy. The result? Trump had a higher approval rating than every other potential candidate. And when Trump called out our current president, Obama would actually respond to him, despite the fact that Trumps face looks like a scrotum that got punched by a sandstorm.
But here's the thing. Donald Trump isn't running for president. Donald Trump was never going to run for president -- of course he wasn't. He's too busy pretending to be the evil mayor in a world that no one told him wasn't a cartoon. No one would ever actually elect Donald Trump. Even Trump knew this, and he's a crispy, shark-eyed troll. His media tour, where he went out and attacked Obama and China and boasted about why he'd be a great president, started when his stupid reality show was entering a new season, and it ended now that the season was over. It was a publicity stunt designed to draw more attention to Trump and his piece-of-crap show. But we let him pretend to want to be president, and we reported on it. Endlessly. Even though he looks like a wrinkled piece of spray-tanned aluminum foil, we entertained this ridiculous charade. We pretended a guy who donates money to the Democratic party and hasn't actually voted in 21 years was going to run as the Republican candidate.
Really sorry you had to see this, your boner's going to have nightmares for weeks.
It was a publicity stunt for a freaking reality show about farts. (Full Disclosure: I've never watched Apprentice.) But we turned it into the biggest presidential story of the year. Why? Because it was funny? Because someone thought it would be ironically hilarious if he actually ran and won? Because the campaign itself would make for an entertaining fucking story? Why?
Look, I know I really like writing about presidents, but I'd like to think I'm not biased when I say that the presidency is important. It should be at least important enough that when an opportunistic, canyon-faced horse's ass pretends to run in what is clearly a publicity stunt, someone can stand up and say, "Shut the fuck up, Donny."
My humble suggestion for that "someone."[Sidebar]
Oh, and speaking of entertaining potential candidates based on how sensational they'll be in terms of media coverage instead of, say, their credentials ...