×

Is Donald Trump’s Lewd-And-Rude Approach Spreading Across the U.S.?

I’m not sure I’m ready for this: The media now refers to Donald Trump, not just as a person, but as a brand. As such, the Trump brand has now infected politics as well as pop culture.

The interesting question: Will there be pushback to the lewd-and-rude style that he represents? At this point, signals are mixed. The Trump brand is leaving its imprint, but there is also an increased awareness of the cost of our growing incivility, on both interpersonal and cultural levels.

In Hollywood, for example the prevalence of the lewd and rude mindset — and the mixed reception it’s been getting — is perhaps best represented by the surfeit of hard R-rated pictures in theaters this summer. Films like “Ted 2,” “Spy,” “Entourage” and “Vacation” have disappointed at the box office. Even the well reviewed “Trainwreck,” from Amy Schumer and Judd Apatow, has not been the breakout hit some predicted.

Kelsey Dake for Variety

While the Donald talks insistently about his business achievements, a number of studies have focused on the impact of the lewd-and-rude ethic on the workplace. The considerable rise of “rudeness and bad behavior,” according to one study, has resulted in a plague of cardiovascular problems among employees, as well as poor performance.  “People working in an environment of incivility are no longer able to process information that is right in front of them,” notes Christine Porath, a Georgetown professor who has studied the trend.

A report from the U. of Florida contends that the rudeness bug spreads like a virus at the office.  “When employees encounter rude behavior, they in turn are ruder to others,” observes Trevor Foulk, author of the study.

In Hollywood, the talent agency business is an intriguing microcosm of these behaviors. Agents as a class tend to veer sharply between the heights of ingratiation and the depths of dismissive rudeness, but agent excess has been tamed by the infusion of private equity, the hiring of corporate CFOs and restrictions on perqs and expense accounts. Doug Ellin, who created “Entourage,” complains that it’s become increasingly difficult to write comedic scripts about agenting, because agency life has become “more corporate.” Still, a Trump-like aggressiveness remains the tactical mandate.

The conflict between what’s cool and what’s smarmy is especially evident on the Web, where the trend toward compulsive sharing has become a need for compulsive shouting. Some media critics argue that the noise level of the Internet is also giving birth to a level of political correctness that’s equally perverse in its militancy to the Donald’s intolerance.

At the U. of California, this has taken the form of sensitivity training for students and faculty as a means to combat “micro-aggressions.” The training has resulted in a long list of banned words and expressions. Academicians are instructed they should never say, “I believe the most qualified candidate should get the job,” because minority students might interpret that as a form of intolerance. “Trigger warnings” are being instituted at several colleges, warning hyper-sensitive students about material that they might find “disturbing.”

All this makes me wary; with the Trump brand taking over much of the national conversation, I might find myself welcoming some trigger warnings. It’s going to be a very long campaign.

Popular on Variety

More Voices

  • Margot Robbie, Nicole Kidman, Charlize Theron.

    Charlize Theron Could Win Second Oscar for Playing Megyn Kelly in 'Bombshell'

    Charlize Theron walked on stage before a screening of “Bombshell” at West Hollywood’s Pacific Design Center on Sunday night and announced to the crowd, “I’m about to s— myself.” The Oscar winner had good reason to be nervous. The screening of the Jay Roach-directed drama about the fall of Fox News boss Roger Ailes was [...]

  • Tom Hanks Mr Rogers A BEAUTIFUL

    Tom Hanks' Portrayal of Mister Rogers May Put Him Back in Oscar's 'Neighborhood'

    Sony recently hosted a SAG-AFTRA screening of “A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood,” the Marielle Heller-directed drama starring Matthew Rhys as a magazine writer who befriends Fred Rogers, played by Tom Hanks. While the screening didn’t include a guild Q&A with cast or the film’s creative team, the audience was greeted with a video message from [...]

  • Joe Pesci, Al Pacino, Martin Scorsese,

    Martin Scorsese and 'The Irishman' Enter Oscar Race With World Premiere at NYFF

    Even with its three-hour run time and a short 28 days in theaters before it’s available on Netflix, Martin Scorsese’s “The Irishman” is likely to be a major contender at the Oscars. The 57th New York Film Festival opened on Friday night with the world premiere of the epic real-life mob drama. Scorsese and his [...]

  • Brad Pitt Once Upon a Time

    How Much Does Hitting the Awards Season Circuit Really Matter to Stars Like Brad Pitt?

    “Do you want an Oscar?” That’s the first question one top awards consultant asks any potential contender when they first start talking. Everyone is wondering how Brad Pitt would answer that question these days. He recently raised eyebrows and made headlines when he proclaimed that he would not be campaigning this awards season. “Oh, man. I’m [...]

  • Renee Zellweger'Judy' film premiere, Arrivals, Samuel

    'Judy's' L.A. Premiere: Renée Zellweger Takes Another Ruby Step Toward the Oscars

    Renée Zellweger continues to follow the yellow brick road to the Oscars. The Los Angeles premiere of Judy on Thursday night in Beverly Hills kept the Academy Award winner on track for a possible second win come February. “We’re just so happy we’re able to share it with you tonight,” Zellweger said to the crowd [...]

  • Barry Bill Hader

    Emmys 2019: Clear Favorites and Top Challengers for This Year's Winners (Column)

    If this felt like the longest, most expensive Emmy campaign in history, you might be right. For one thing, the 2019 Primetime Emmys will be held Sept. 22, which is the latest the ceremony has taken place since 2013. That also happened to be the last year of TV’s quaint, pre-streaming era, before outlets like [...]

  • Fleabag Succession Emmys

    Could 'Fleabag' and 'Succession' Be Spoilers on Emmy Night? (Column)

    At the onset, this year’s Emmy Awards felt a bit anticlimactic, as the final seasons of “Game of Thrones” and “Veep” appeared to have this year’s drama and comedy categories locked up before campaigning even began. But that’s how upsets happen: Just when we’re pretty confident about how things might go, a couple of wild [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content