Steve Bannon is infamous for two things: being the ex-proprietor of Breitbart.com -- that place on the internet where unsuccessful white men go to blame others for their shortcomings -- and being the current Jafar-like aide to Donald Trump. That's all that most people know about the man. He's a riddle wrapped in an enigma wrapped in the loose-fitting skin of some hobo he murdered.
We decided to confront this mystery head-on and dug into the collective archive of humanity. Our conclusion? Following his boss's example of inserting himself where he isn't wanted, Bannon has been able to slither into so many iconic cultural moments that he's pretty much our answer to Forrest Gump. (Yes, we know SNL just aired a sketch portraying Jeff Sessions as Forrest Gump. It turns out Trump has a knack for hiring Gumpian people.)
"Life is like a box of chocolates, but if just three would kill you ..."
Bannon's remarkable story starts after graduating college when he joined the Navy -- which seemed like a good fit, as he already knew what he'd look like as a bloated corpse. He qualified as a surface warfare officer aboard the USS Paul F. Foster, which in 1980 was tasked with escorting the USS Nimitz to the Persian Gulf. That vessel served as one of the main staging posts for the rescue of U.S. embassy workers taken hostage during the 1979 revolution in Iran. "Operation Eagle Claw" was such a massive disaster that it caused the deaths of eight servicemen without any of the hostages being rescued -- a humiliating outcome for the U.S. forces present. We can't conclusively state that this is where Bannon first got his hate-boner for Islam, but shit, that might be like arguing Batman didn't get his start when his mother's pearls hit the ground.
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Has anyone tried screaming "MARTHA!" at him?
Like many others who were present at the Iran hostage crisis, Bannon developed a massive aversion to Democratic President Jimmy Carter. So when he came back home, he immediately glommed onto Carter's opponent, Republican Ronald Reagan. Later that year, he used his military stripes to force himself and his pals into the victory party for the newly elected President Reagan, where he noticed firsthand how far one can go by prioritizing style over substance.
Which would explain his "Did Jews Kill The Gipper?" Breitbart headline ...
After graduating from college (again), he cut his teeth at Goldman Sachs as an investment banker in the mergers and acquisitions department. That put him right at the heart of Wall Street during its "greed is good" era -- i.e. the reason that every '80s movie has a villain with slicked-back hair and suspenders and subplot about hostile takeovers.
For the most part, Bannon was relegated to being an enforcer, tasked with defending boardrooms from hordes of mercenary bankers and coked-up shareholders. On the rare occasion that he did some raiding of his own, it involved a little outfit called Bain Capital, which was being run by Mitt Romney.
"Ha! We're eating money and poor peoples' dreams!"
He eventually went his own way and formed a boutique investment company, Bannon & Co., which specialized in media and entertainment. Alongside clients such as MGM and Polygram Records, Bannon found himself working for Ted Turner, negotiating the acquisition of production company Castle Rock Entertainment. Turner, not wanting to part with too much money, talked Bannon into accepting a stake in five of Castle Rock's TV shows, which included a little sitcom about nothing which had barely survived to get a second season, Seinfeld. And that's how Bannon made his first fortune: by hitching his wagon to Jerry Seinfeld.
Bannon expanded his portfolio further by taking over as CEO of Biosphere 2 -- the world-famous science experiment that placed eight scientists inside a sealed biosphere in order to study methods for colonizing space, only to end in world-famous failure when the not-very-scientists went Lord Of The Flies on each other. Under his stewardship, Biosphere 2 moved from studying survival in space to studying the dangers of air pollution and climate change -- something he probably kept off his C.V. when mailing it to his current employer.
It was roughly at this time that Bannon found a new hobby: writing cringeworthy modern adaptations of Shakespeare. There's the rap music adaptation of Coriolanus set during the 1992 Los Angeles riots, in which the title character is recast as "Agrippa, 'Mack Daddy' of South Central."
"You choose. To act and die-or lie 'neath whitey's boot!" the gang-member version of "BRUTUS" declares, standing on a chair, "talking trash, shouting to be heard."
Die, die, die!" the crowd roars back.
"Dear? We're cheap, not dear," Brutus says. "Whitey's dear. His kibbles 'n' bits, if wholesome, would relieve us, but they call us dear and cast us nothing. Our suffering's their gain. Let's avenge with guns and knives-a score for a score. I speak from hunger ... Our business is no mystery to the pols and popo. For two weeks they have known what we intend to do ... which now we do in deeds."
"South Central is the belly, you, niggas, its mutinous members; look on and you'll see that the benefits which you receive proceed ... from them to you. In no way from your sorry black asses," Agrippa retorts.
Believe it or not, that script was written by a 30-something white businessman.
This magnum opus was later followed by his reworking of Titus Andronicus as a sci-fi epic featuring space queens, political machinations, and people turning themselves into clouds to get nasty.
Aaron leans like a shadow into the doorway. He knocks.
Attava approaches. Her dressing gown gapes open, revealing her breasts. She opens the door. Aaron enters, closing it behind him and leans against it, arms folded across his chest.
I'm glad you called.
He grabs her. She leads him to the bed and pulls him down; laughing softly, she unwraps her gown.
Everything is always so ... physical with you.
Oh, yes ...
He climbs onto her and their forms dissolve, blend and blur in an erotic scene of ectoplasmic sex.
Jeremy Liebman/Bloomberg Businessweek
This guy doesn't fuck.
Despite this fanfiction leading to nowhere, Bannon had caught the writing bug (which explains his constant rash). He cashed out of Bannon & Co in 1998, and with his climate change earnings bought himself a spot in the Hollywood elite, executive producing movies such as Sean Penn's Indian Runner and Anthony Hopkins' Titus. He also started operating a distribution company specializing in the sorts of independent, LGBT-friendly, avant-garde movies that would make his modern-day followers call him an SJW safe-space-enabling cuck. He also came to co-own the Firm, which managed some of the biggest contemporary celebrities, like Ice Cube, Leonardo DiCaprio, Cameron Diaz, Snoop Dogg, and Linkin Park.
This is alongside moving to Shanghai and running a World Of Warcraft gold-farming operation -- which seems much more the speed of a guy who wound up getting a living 4chan GIF elected.
Maybe he found Hollywood to have changed since his hero Reagan did movies starring monkeys there, or maybe Ice Cube never returned his messages, but eventually Bannon dropped all pretense and embarked on a side-side-side-side career as an independent right-wing documentarian. Starting in 2006, he was responsible for masterpieces such as Battle For America, which chronicled the rise of the Tea Party, Occupy Unmasked, which revealed that the Occupy movement is a bunch of unemployed hippies (which was never really a secret), and Torchbearer, an unironic "Christian war film" in which Phil "Duck Dynasty" Robertson warns that God is no longer with America, the main evidence of which is that Phil Robertson hasn't been struck down yet.
And those are the reactionary fever dreams that he managed to get made, unlike his script for Destroying The Great Satan: The Rise Of Islamic Fascism In America. This unproduced schizophrenic episode makes the case that the entirety of our democratic machine has been infiltrated by Muslims intent on our subjugation -- a fiendish scheme which will culminate in AI-controlled aircraft carriers being launched into our skies in order to assassinate important individuals.
Bannon did manage to impress one person with his hateful ramblings: Andrew Breitbart, who loved his rhetoric and, more importantly, all the money Bannon was giving him, allowing him to launch Breitbart.com in 2012 and beginning the long process of Making America Great Again. Before he ascended, however, he gave us one final present: the Government Accountability Institute, or GAI, a conservative investigative group that works with outlets such as Newsweek, ABC News, and 60 Minutes. Weinergate? That was theirs.
Andrew Burton/Getty Images
Between this, Linkin Park, and Trump, we're having trouble working out what to hate him more for.
And we all know how this story ends. Through a combination of conspiracy theorizing, killer back rubs, and a shared hatred of minorities, Bannon was able to ingratiate himself to future president Donald Trump. It was the ultimate culmination of a life spent flip-flopping, kingmaking, and stumbling into success by showing up.
At least, we hope that this is him crossing the finish line. Because, of course, no success story is complete without some asshole Hollywood producer trying to tack on a sequel. It happened to Forrest Gump, and we'd rather not ever see any "Bannon 2024" signs being hammered into a yard.
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