WASHINGTON – Watching the last Republican Debate, The Studio Exec asked himself, sourly under his breath if they have now become the equivalent of torture porn.
Televised political debate in America has rarely looked like a subgenre of horror but the Republican debates are increasingly resembling some steamy mess that Eli Roth would concoct. Starting in August 2015 when ten presidential candidates put themselves forward for the Republican Party nomination the similarities have become uncanny.
First of all there’s that number. Ten candidates in the first debate. With another seven relegated to a shameful mini-debate. It was more like a later entry in the Final Destination franchise than a political line up. We just knew that some of these guys were only in it for the imaginative if implausible kill somewhere further down the line. And we also knew that as with The Green Inferno and Hostel it would be the ones who weren’t complete assholes that would be killed first. The second debate weirdly had more people rather than less though – Jeb Bush, Ben Carson, Chris Christie, Ted Cruz, Carly Fiorina, Mike Huckabee, John Kasich, Rand Paul, Marco Rubio, Donald Trump, and Scott Walker – but surely this was the calm before the storm. It wasn’t until the fourth debate that we began to get the numbers down, but that was only because the debate was held in Milwaukee and who wants to go there?
Then there was the content of the debate. The racism and the xenophobia, the promises to torture and to bomb, the sexism and the negativity, pyramids full of grain, snuff videos of babies limbs being harvested while they were still alive on the table, Megyn Kelly being shamed like Sissy Spacek in the first scene of Carrie.
Then there’s Ted Cruz who is essentially a cross between Grandpa Munster, the Zodiac killer and Damien from The Omen: The Final Conflict. Marco Rubio malfunctioned like one of the Westworld robots but in this version he shot himself in the foot and Donald Trump…
What can be said about Donald Trump that already hasn’t been said? He was invented by North Korea to show that although they have a mad dictator we are actually choosing Trump! John Kasich is the only one among them that looks like he doesn’t have someone in the cellar waiting for a basket to lower the lotion.
However, the true horror is that this is all real. The victims have turned out not to be the contenders, but the country. I don’t want any of these people to win (that much should be obvious). And there have been voices celebrating a Trump nomination as essentially guaranteeing the White House for whoever will face him. But there are two problems with this analysis. One, your ideas improve if you have some quality opposing you. It sharpens your wit, and hell who knows, they might actually have some good ideas that you can take and use, even benefit from. Richard Nixon might have been the duplicitous shit bag that he was but he was strong on the environment and his rapprochement with China was a necessary step. And two. They might win. They very much could win. The minute that the GOP sees that it is going to have to swallow a nomination, watch how Trump will tone down and think pieces will begin to appear about how Presidential he has begun to sound. Jesus Christ, I read three of them following his victories on Super Tuesday.
Fortunately, unlike Hostel, an election is an interactive experience. You can get out of your chair and pull a lever. A lever that might stop the torture that one of the candidates is actually proposing. And if you don’t pull that lever. Someone else will.