Trump’s ‘enjoyability’ discussed at Amherst College

Mazzarella will be releasing a longer project on the topic next year

(Olivier Douliery/Abaca Press/TNS)

(Olivier Douliery/Abaca Press/TNS)

By Jacqueline Hayes, Collegian Staff

William Mazzarella, Chair of the Department of Anthropology at the University of Chicago, gave his lecture entitled “Why is Trump so Enjoyable?” on Thursday, Sept. 13 at Amherst College’s Frost Library.

His speech was one of the first events for Amherst College’s Center for Humanistic Inquiry and was an abbreviated version of a much longer collaborative project which will be released next year. His speech delved into Trump’s “enjoyability” factor to both conservatives and liberals alike, as well as contesting what the definition of “enjoyable” means in this context.

“From the first Republican candidate debates in 2015, Trump has excelled at cultivating an enjoyment in his presence, an ability to dominate the collective feel and attention, irrespective of the content that is being communicated,” Mazarella explained.

“We’re in the realm of tightly interlocking enjoyments. Take for example, the obsessive way in which commentators on the left as well as on the right fixate on the cliched image of the white, working class Trump voter,” Mazarella discussed in regards to both political parties being equally as fascinated by the President, for bad or for good.

Mazarella proceeded to explain Trump’s branding techniques of his name as well.

He said, “Trump’s truly decisive brand property is not to signify so much as to keep us in motion – adoring, getting outraged, feeling sick, in other words, enjoying. As a brand, Trump provokes us in what we think we know about marketing. If there’s a consistent message to Trump’s political brand, it’s the power of straying off message.”

Amherst College Freshman Thomas Brodey explained his interest in coming to the event, saying “Politics are a big interest of mine – hearing about this event so much around campus really heightened my interest as well. I think I would’ve come even if the event weren’t about Trump, but because it does involve him, I felt more inclined to come because it’s such a hot button issue.”

Another Amherst College student, Marvin Bell, who will be graduating this upcoming winter term, is an anthropology and sociology double major, which he said influenced his decision to attend the event.

“Last semester in my anthropology class, we talked a lot about Professor Mazzarella’s theories, so I was interested in hearing about how his theoretical positions will play out in the real world politics of today, and his talk about Trump,” Bell said.

Mount Holyoke alum and local area resident Alexandra de Montrichard also spoke of her enthusiasm for the event.

“After listening to this talk, I thought it was fascinating, and it turned the table on how you look at the Trump phenomena, and the perverse enjoyment that follows. It also questions how one can counter Trump’s popularity when looking at the question of morality versus enjoyment.”

Jacqueline Hayes can be reached at [email protected]