The inauguration of the end of the world (as we know it)

THE FIFTH COLUMN

I find the inauguration of Donald Trump as the president of the United States lacking as the official end of the world – it doesn’t have the pizzazz of Y2K, or the mystery of the Mayan calendar – but I suspect it will be swifter than Brexit and pack more punch than the 2008 economic meltdown.

Trump’s inauguration promises to be a low-key affair, artswise. Elton John refused to play, citing political differences and good taste. A dance troupe called the Rockettes will perform on a voluntary basis joined by a variety of classical artists including, I presume, avatars of the orchestra that played on the ill-fated ocean liner Titanic, who will, sadly, give their all for an audience who still doesn’t know what the big deal around the Titanic was.

The rest of us will watch the event – it’s like a car crash! – on mute, with Louis Armstrong’s What a Wonderful World playing in the background to prolong the denial that this is all happening for as long as possible.

No A-list movie stars are expected to attend the ceremony – a fact I can confidently report based on the assumption that any A-list movie star spotted at the event will immediately be downgraded to a B or even a C. True A-listers, as we all know, save visible protest for the big screen.

I expect a string of movies based on and slating Trump’s inauguration – all starring Meryl Streep – to be released straight after the event and streamed to wherever it is we all go when the world ends. Mars, probably; 2009, hopefully.

When President Barack Obama was inaugurated in that year, hope pulsed through the world. I even felt it at work when my boss pitched up with an Obama T-shirt. God only knows where he got it from.

Our Fifa World Cup was around the corner and the @RealDonaldTrump account was run by a mild-mannered publisher who tweeted quotes from Trump’s books and the odd holiday greeting.

Oh, how things have changed.

Staring the words “President Trump” straight in its double-chinned face, I have to ask myself, what the hell happened? How did we go from hope to hate? Where did all the grown-ups go? Is this really the end?

For most of my life, I have been told bad things that happen are not the end of the world. A bottle of All Gold tomato sauce that broke in my primary school textbook-filled backpack was used as a prime example of that, along with the assurance that it could have been much worse.

I’m still here – it wasn’t the end of the world after all – but it was the end of my backpack as I knew it, in the same way January 20 2017 will be the end of the world as we know it. And that’s another song that, ironically, won’t be played at Trump’s inauguration.

 
JS Smit

JS Smit

JS Smit is a Cape Town-based freelance writer. Formally trained as a copywriter, he took a break from ads in 2010 to write a blog for the Mail & Guardian's Thought Leader and since 2015 has written for the Mail & Guardian. Read more from JS Smit

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