Live from New Ya Wk: Donald Trump Sounds like the Real Housewives of New York City Cast

By Barr, Marleen S. | ETC.: A Review of General Semantics, January 2016 | Go to article overview

Live from New Ya Wk: Donald Trump Sounds like the Real Housewives of New York City Cast


Barr, Marleen S., ETC.: A Review of General Semantics


Jeb Bush's campaign "ad's overarching accusation, though is that Mr. Trump is from New York. Within the span of one minute and 21 seconds we are reminded of where he comes from three times, his provenance presumably his greatest sin... The next time someone asks Donald Trump if he is a real Republican, he might answer, 'Of course I am. Don't you know where I live?'--Ginia Bellafante," G. O. P. Can't Stop Thinking About Gomorrah," New York Times, September 6, 2015, 1, 6. 

Bravo's Andy Cohen used his appearance on Real Time with Bill Maher on Friday night (November 20, 2015) to discuss politics and ended up comparing the candidates to stars of The Real Housewives. This was, surprisingly, a pretty good way of explaining what's happening.... Here's how Cohen explained Trump: "I've been watching Donald Trump--who came, obviously, from a reality show. He reminds me of a first-season Orange County Housewife. I know you may not be familiar with the show, but he really does. Because they have delusions about their place in the world. They will say anything--they will say any damn thing and there aren't always repercussions."... Considering that the media can't figure out how to deal with Trump when he says irrational, untrue things, maybe thinking of him as a Housewives star might make that interaction easier?--Andy Dehnart, "Andy Cohen's Surprisingly Astute Real Housewives-Candidate Analysis," realityblurred.com, November 23, 2015, https://www.realityblurred.com/realitytv/2015/ll/andy-cohen-housewives-presidential-candidates-debates/.

"I'm not a housewife but I am real," proclaims Bethenny Frankel during the opening segment of The Real Housewives of New York City. She signals that "housewife" has lost its denotative meaning. Frankel, a divorced highly successful entrepreneur, is categorized as a "real housewife." Six of the eight New York "housewives" are either widowed or divorced. The two married cast members work outside the home. All of the "real" New York "housewives" are really not housewives. To add further lack of clarity to "real housewife of New York City," I wish to apply this term to a particular man: Donald Trump. New York Times critic James Poniewozik positions Trump in terms of Survivor, The Bachelor, and The Apprentice (New York Times, October 10, 2015). It is important to add The Real Housewives of New York City to Poniewozik's reality show list. Trump's "attention to surface appearances" and his "idea of wealth that was brazen and crass" (Poniewozik C5) smacks of the New York Housewives. He causes "real housewife" to become synonymous with "real Republican" presidential race candidate.

Trump is bringing New York style verbiage to presidential politics. Unlike polite and controversy avoiding real politicians, Trump, true to his outer borough roots, says exactly what he thinks about everyone and everything. Using a lower tone male voice register, he echoes Frankel's quick witted directness. Trump is the ninth "real housewife" of New York.

Michael Newman, a City University of New York linguistics professor, notes that Bernie Sanders and Trump's "similarity is how they talk. Not what they say, but how they sound: Like they're from New York" ("Voters May Just Want to (,)Tawk,'" New York Times, October 5, 2015, A23). Like Poniewozik, Newman also misses the point. Trump, in addition to speaking like a New Yorker, is using New York female speak; he mouths political discourse which adheres to the worst characteristics of stereotypically feminine conversation. His emphasis on the catty and the back biting is girl talk--Joan Rivers' "can we talk?" No hormone popping Caitlyn Jenner, Trump has transitioned to female speak, a language which differs from conservative Republican science reality denying double speak. Georgetown University linguistics professor Deborah Tannen, in You Just Don't Understand: Women and Men In Conversation, explains that women and men speak differently. Not so for Trump who talks like a New York "real housewife. …

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