Donald Trump Presidency: Is Reality TV to Blame?

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Unless you just emerged from a booze coma that you plunged yourself into right around the time Chuck Todd turned Florida red on his big touch-screen map, you're aware by now that Donald Trump was elected president last night.

Trump just wrapped up the most platform-less campaign in US history, so we really have no idea what the future holds (except for a Mike Pence presidency after Donnie realizes this job is super hard and steps down).

But hey, on the "we are truly living in the darkest timeline" note, at least this election paves the way for Kanye West's 2020 presidential campaign

Donald Trump in Reno

The thing about that statement is - we're not entirely joking.

Sure, the idea of Yeezy in the White House is absurd, but there was a time when a Trump presidency would have seemed just as ridiculous.

As we've been reminded many times in recent months, The Simpsons even played the possibility of a Trump presidency for laughs way back in 2000.

(In the larger context of a joke about our first female president, interestingly enough.)

And they're not the only ones.

Comedians have chuckled about a Trump presidency for years.

The joke that Americans would elect a self-aggrandizing, narcissistic billionaire who's most famous for slapping his name all over Manhattan in giant gold letters was viewed as a comedically hyperbolic statement on our nation's obsession with wealth and fame.

The reason it was funny and not tragic is that we all thought there was no way it would ever happen.

Then Trump became the star of a reality series.

Donald Trump in Charge

Yes, his path to the White House began way back in 2004 when first season of The Apprentice debuted on NBC.

Despite Trump's claims to the contrary, the ratings were never yuuuuge, but the show still took Trump from '80s footnote to star of a mainstream television series.

Reality television was in its infancy in those days, and the proliferation of original programming meant that a show with a relatively small audience could remain on the air for several seasons.

Trump stuck around, and the show eventually became successful enough to spawn a celebrity-focused spinoff.

Though never a hit, The Apprentice helped the Trump brand become synonymous with fame and extravagance once more.

Donald Trumped Up

These days, "lifestyle porn" reality shows are everywhere, but in 2004, Trump was in uncharted territory.

Which brings us back to President Kanye.

Many wouldn't have thought it was possible at the dawn of this century, but the American obsession with people living undeservedly lavish lifestyles has become even more all-consuming.

The Trump entertainment model brought us the Kardashians, the Housewives, and the Teen Moms.

Donald Trump Stares

The idea of that their would be dozens of reality shows devoted to the lives of people who are famous despite demonstrating no discernible talents would have seemed ludicrous 15 years ago.

Just as the idea that we would elect a man with no political or military experience to be President of the United States would have seemed absurd just a few days ago.

In the minds of many American voters, the two concepts aren't so different.

We've always been obsessed with fame, but celebrities of the past were athletes, musicians, actors, and politicians who earned their positions from lifetimes in public service.

Now, our biggest celebrities are people who screamed for attention loud enough and long enough that we all gave it to them.

No matter whom you voted for, you can probably see how that doesn't bode well for the future of our culture.

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