Matthew Rozsa has a look at the many similarities between Donald Trump and Steven Seagal, now Putin’s “cultural ambassador” to the United States (he holds dual citizenship). He points out the incongruity of Seagal making so many movies pretending to be an environmental crusader, then backing Trump, who has been busy dismantling the EPA piece by piece. But there’s more.
Like the president he serves — the American one, not the Russian — Seagal embodies the ugliest sides of American political and cultural life. Just as Trump is plagued by accusations of sexual misconduct, and yet is put in positions of power despite those claims, so too is Seagal able to keep rising through the ranks regardless of alleged misconduct and abuse. Both men are also completely unqualified for the positions of power that they’ve obtained: They were washed-up entertainers, not statesmen, with Trump being little more than a male Paris Hilton before being elected president and Seagal having lost the nimble athleticism of his “Under Siege” days. Yet in a culture that can’t grasp the fact that fame alone does not endow any wisdom or worthiness, Seagal and Trump have used their bloated masculine images — one as an erstwhile action star, the other as a supposed giant of business — to gain offices they don’t deserve.
Finally, and most obnoxiously: Both Seagal and Trump fight for causes that enrich themselves and harm innocent people, even as they hypocritically put on populist airs.
Trump is famous for being a businessman but has filed for multiple business bankruptcies, and while he claims to fight for the working class, his trade policies are hitting target farmers and blue collar workers the hardest. Seagal, meanwhile, presents himself as a deeply spiritual, moral and nature-friendly action star in his movies, yet in real life sells out the environment if doing so will please other frail masculine egos, and exploits the vulnerable instead of protecting them.
It is perhaps fitting that Putin, the master manipulator from the KGB, can see right through these phony exteriors to the potential assets just waiting to be cultivated. I suppose it’s for the best that neither Trump nor Seagal produced high art (although I’d watch the worst Seagal movie before the best episode of “The Apprentice”), since at least we’re not losing anything valuable in the pop culture realm by seeing the creators exposed as hypocrites.
Both are thin-skinned sexual predators and pseudo-macho posers, exactly the kind of people with enormous appeal to a certain segment of the population — insecure white men prone to bigotry and xenophobia. That is both Trump’s base and Seagal’s target audience.