Donald Trump's Shakespearean Muse

Donald Trump's Shakespearean Muse

Man, I really should have paid better attention in high school English.
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Like many of my peers, I have been endlessly and perversely entertained by the antics of Donald Trump this election season. Donny Small-Hands has always had a ridiculous public persona, but recently he has swung for the fences in not only offending people, but also bringing hate speech onto the world stage. Because he is such a strange enigma, everyone's been looking for an analogue to explain Trump and his rise in terms we can wrap our head around.

So far, the classic move has been a comparison to Adolf Hitler. While that is apt at times, Hitler also holds a unique status as the worst individual in our shared consciousness. To say, "Trump Is Hitler" is to say, "Trump is a monster I cannot ever understand", and end the thought process there.

Personally, I think we need to view Trump through the lens of a less stigmatized character in order to understand how he got to be the GOP frontrunner. That someone is, of course, Prince Hal from Shakespeare's King Henry IV Part I.

For those of who haven't read or seen this play (which is understandable; Henry V is a lot sexier), the basic plot is pretty simple: there's a storm of rebellion brewing in England against the King, and revolution seems like it will break out any minute. Meanwhile, the King's strange son, Prince Hal, spends his time hanging with the cleverest barflys you'll ever meet, shirking his duties in the name of good times. To put it simply, he's not someone you'd want at your family picnic, let alone the guy who should be next in line to the throne.

At first, the prince's rash actions seem to be just juvenile rebellion, Hal's way of pissing off his dad. But in the second scene of the first act, Shakespeare reveals that there's something more sinister lurking underneath the surface. Here's a link to the text if you'd like to read it, but John Gielgud plays the character best in Orson Welles' Chimes At Midnight:


Because Chimes is Welles' conglomeration of Henry IV Part I and Part II, we actually see a lot of Prince Hal palling around with Falstaff, played by Welles himself. It's all fun and games because, well, why not? But if you skip to 4 and a half minutes in, you get to see a dull sociopathic glint in the eyes of the future king. This man has been working hard to "make offence a skill", but it's all been because he wants to look better in comparison "when this loose behavior I throw off."

"Hal rightly recognizes the value of being seen as fresh and new", writes Jennifer Drouin, and I'm inclined to think Trump saw that same value last week when he chose to change his campaign strategy. "I will be so presidential," Trump said on NBC's Today Show, "you will be so bored." In another interview with the Wall Street Journal, he noted that he will be "more effective and more disciplined" in the future.

Trump knows that, if his campaign continues the way it has, he may win the GOP nomination but never the bipartisan vote (to our credit, 65% of Americans surveyed still view him as unfavorable.) I predict that these recent statements are Trump's way of beginning the turn to moderate that we've all seen coming for months.

What Trump may not have accounted for is, the stakes are a lot higher for him than they were for Prince Hal.

By constantly saying "what we all want to say", Trump has not only become popular, but made hate socially acceptable. "Make America Great Again" is not just a radical statement anymore; it's a figurehead for racists, misogynists, and bigots of all denominations to rally around and make that which is not Great into the Other. Even if the man does swing back and "imitate the sun" on a personal and political level, the effects of his early campaign will never fade away.

Like many of his business decisions, it appears Trump has gambled big and lost. And we're the one's who will be paying for it.

Cover Image Credit: Ronald Grant Archive

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I'm The Girl Without A 'Friend Group'

And here's why I'm OK with it

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Little things remind me all the time.

For example, I'll be sitting in the lounge with the people on my floor, just talking about how everyone's days went. Someone will turn to someone else and ask something along the lines of, "When are we going to so-and-so's place tonight?" Sometimes it'll even be, "Are you ready to go to so-and-so's place now? Okay, we'll see you later, Taylor!"

It's little things like that, little things that remind me I don't have a "friend group." And it's been like that forever. I don't have the same people to keep me company 24 hours of the day, the same people to do absolutely everything with, and the same people to cling to like glue. I don't have a whole cast of characters to entertain me and care for me and support me. Sometimes, especially when it feels obvious to me, not having a "friend group" makes me feel like a waste of space. If I don't have more friends than I can count, what's the point in trying to make friends at all?

I can tell you that there is a point. As a matter of fact, just because I don't have a close-knit clique doesn't mean I don't have any friends. The friends I have come from all different walks of life, some are from my town back home and some are from across the country. I've known some of my friends for years, and others I've only known for a few months. It doesn't really matter where they come from, though. What matters is that the friends I have all entertain me, care for me, and support me. Just because I'm not in that "friend group" with all of them together doesn't mean that we can't be friends to each other.

Still, I hate avoiding sticking myself in a box, and I'm not afraid to seek out friendships. I've noticed that a lot of the people I see who consider themselves to be in a "friend group" don't really venture outside the pack very often. I've never had a pack to venture outside of, so I don't mind reaching out to new people whenever.

I'm not going to lie, when I hear people talking about all the fun they're going to have with their "friend group" over the weekend, part of me wishes I could be included in something like that. I do sometimes want to have the personality type that allows me to mesh perfectly into a clique. I couldn't tell you what it is about me, but there is some part of me that just happens to function better one-on-one with people.

I hated it all my life up until very recently, and that's because I've finally learned that not having a "friend group" is never going to be the same as not having friends.

SEE ALSO: To The Girls Who Float Between Friend Groups

Cover Image Credit: wordpress.com

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Terrors Behind "Toddlers & Tiaras" - Beauty Pageants Need To Go!

Why Honey Boo Boo is not the girl we should be idolizing...

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Honey Boo Boo is famous for her extravagant persona, extreme temper tantrums, overwhelming attitude, and intense sassiness. All of these qualities are shared by many other young girls who participate in beauty pageants - not just in "Here Comes Honey Boo Boo" but also in TLC's notorious "Toddlers & Tiaras," a show that depicts the horrors of little girls who have dedicated their childhood to winning the crown.

These shows, and the pageants they glorify do nothing but force girls to grow up too quickly, send negative messages to viewers and participants and pose health risks for the girls involved.

Therefore, beauty pageants for young girls should be abolished.

The hypersexualization that takes place in these pageants is staggering. Not only are young girls' minds molded into having a superficial view on beauty, but they are also waxed, spray-tanned, given wigs, retouched in pictures, injected with Botox and fillers, and painted with fake abs and even breasts.

Sexy is the goal, not cute. Girls of ages 2-12 wear skimpy clothing, accentuating only their underdeveloped bodies. A 4-year-old girl on "Toddlers and Tiaras" once impersonated Dolly Parton with fake breasts, another dressed as Julia Roberts in Pretty Woman (so basically, a prostitute), and another even pretended to smoke a cigarette to look like Sandy from Grease.

In Venezuela, people are so obsessed with pageants that they send their daughters to "Miss Factories," to train them to win. At these factories, underage girls undergo plastic surgery and hormone therapy to delay puberty in attempts to grow taller. In addition, they often get mesh sewn onto their tongues so that they are physically incapable of eating solid food. This idea of taking horrific measures to look slimmer is not unique to Venezuela. A former Miss USA explained that she would "slather on hemorrhoid ointment, wrap herself up with Saran wrap, and run on a treadmill with an incline for 30 minutes to tighten her skin and waist up." Many countries, including France and Israel have banned child beauty pageants because it is "hypersexualizing." Why has the US yet to follow in their footsteps?

Additionally, the pageants strip their young contestants of a childhood by basically putting them through harsh child labor. Oftentimes, girls as young as 18 months old participate in pageants. There is no way that a girl under 2 years old has the capacity to decide for herself that she wants to participate in a beauty pageant. Not to mention, education often takes a backseat in pageant girls' lives as long practice sessions interfere with sleep and homework. This causes long-term distress for the contestants, including widespread unemployment for former pageant girls.

Moreover, these pageants tie self-worth and self-esteem to attractiveness. They teach girls that natural beauty and intelligence are not enough, when in actuality they should be doing the opposite. In fact, 72% of pageant girls hire coaches to train girls to be more "attractive."

Finally, these pageants pose potent health risks for the girls competing. Not only do intense rehearsals interfere with their sleep cycles, but they are also impacted by the harmful methods taken to keep them awake. One example is Honey Boo Boo's "go go juice" - AKA a mixture of Mountain Dew and Red Bull. She is known for drinking this continuously throughout pageant days to stay awake and energetic - but the health risks associated with the drinks, let alone for such a young girl, are completely ignored.

And, the future health problems associated with pageantry cannot be looked past. Participating in beauty pageants as kids leads to eating disorders, perfectionism, depression - in fact, at least 6% suffer from depression while competing. "The Princess Syndrome," as Psychology Today calls it relates to a small study published in 2005 that showed that former childhood beauty pageant contestants had higher rates of body dissatisfaction. This sense of dissatisfaction can so easily be translated to more severe mental and physical health issues, including depression, anxiety, and eating disorders. The average BMI (Body Mass Index) of a Beauty Contestant in the US in 1930 was 20.8, which is universally in the middle of the "healthy" range. In 2010, it was 16.9, which is considered underweight for anyone.

So, despite the entertainment these shows and pageants provide, they should most definitely be stopped due to the immense amount of issues they cause for those involved and those who watch.

Although Honey Boo Boo is (sadly) considered one of America's sweethearts, her experience in pageantry has certainly not been a positive influence in her life nor in the lives of her fans - and this is the case for nearly all young pageant girls.

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