Before he was installed by the electoral college as Supreme Grand Primate Of THE GREAT UNRAVELING, Donald Trump was just one of the more poignant accounts on Twitter. There was nothing sympathetic about him, really, because there has never been anything sympathetic about him. He has been the same way, and locked into the same excruciating public performance of Rich Guy Whom Has Sex A Lot since 1985. But before he was in charge of peevishly barfing gold leaf onto our great democratic experiment, Trump spent his days peevishly barfing gold leaf onto the internet, keening about his golf empire and live-tweeting episodes of Access Hollywood—he had a lot of romantic advice for Robert Pattinson—and belching woundedly about his impenetrable decades-long feuds with, like, Bette Midler. All Donald Trump has ever wanted is for you to know how rich and good he is, but he couldn’t help but reveal his life as bored and boring, relentlessly vacant and deeply, deeply shitty.
Anyway, now he’s the President of the United States. More than that, though, the United States is very much Trump’s country, now—multiply over-leveraged, overpromising and underdelivering wildly, pissy and ignorant and terrified, at once busy and extravagantly lazy. If Trump has one single accomplishment as President, it is how thoroughly he’s revealed extremely rich people as being not somehow braver or smarter or more disciplined than the rest of us but somehow exactly the opposite—consumed by pettiness, enslaved by vanity, and perfectly willing to fuck important things up in order to make some point to themselves and their rancid peers.
If you understand this, then there was nothing really that surprising about flame-retardant Italianate foodstuff impresario Papa “John” Schnatter blaming his company’s declining profits on the NFL’s inability to successfully quash its nascent protest movement. It was a little startling, of course, because of how ridiculous it was, but it was less startling than it would have been two years ago. That the statement happened to be obviously incorrect should have been taken as a given.
The speculation that Schnatter might have been put up to this gambit by Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones seems like a bit much at first, until you remember that the phrase “a bit much” no longer applies. So, sure: Schnatter, the boss of the NFL’s Official Pizza Sponsor, took a shot at the leadership of the NFL commissioner at the behest of the vengeful Petro-Creature that owns the Dallas Cowboys, who is of course also Schnatter’s personal friend and an owner of at least 100 Papa John’s franchises, because the aforementioned Petro-Creature is upset about Goodell’s suspension of his star running back. Sure. Absolutely. Everything is this stupid, now.
This is all baffling and strange, but there are signs that people are at least getting used to it. If you’re going to live in a world devoted increasingly to the opaque feuds of rich idiots, you might as well participate in those feuds yourself. And so every absurd thing that followed from this story on Thursday felt just right. Pizza Hut, which is not affiliated with the NFL, put its oar in to say that the NFL’s protest movement had not impacted their bottom line at all. This set up a partisan binary that doubles as a crystalline metaphor for life in these times. You could eat an awful Papa John’s pizza to Trigger The Liberals—they love the NFL now, and they get real upset when you eat pizza that tastes like a couch cushion soaked for 48 hours in margarine and brine:
Or you could Stand Up For Your Values by ordering from Pizza Hut and subjecting yourself to one of the few pizza experiences more reliably disappointing than Papa John’s. It’s also possible that Little Caesar’s is the ethical choice in Appallingly Shitty Pizza. Even if you’re a smug, apolitical shitposter, there’s an option just for you:
“Developing” doesn’t seem quite the right word for this story, but at this point we at least have some idea what to expect as it continues to devolve. The horizons of our moment have diminished and diminished until they reflect the claustrophobic world of the vapid rich dopes that are so pissily running it into the ground. Those of us down below can participate in all this by acting like them—buying stuff because we genuinely can’t think of anything else to do, signaling furiously all the while at our hated counterparts on the other side of whatever this binary is, making a big deal out of something that is, in point of fact, meaningless.
There is something terribly sad about all this, of course. A world in which self-expression is limited to performative, politicized acts of consumption—and in which the things being consumed are, in form and content, not just unsatisfying but the product of an immense disdain for the very idea of your satisfaction—is horrible to consider. It’s not a future that serves anyone but those least deserving of that courtesy. And that is why I’m going to take a picture of myself eating an Auntie Anne’s pretzel and tweet it at the President. He’s going to hate that.