March 28, 2018

PINERO | Stormy Daniels, Deus Ex Machina

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An adult film star is trying to take down the President of the United States. This is the latest iteration of the comical absurdity to which, in the Trump era, we’ve become accustomed. We no longer feel moral outrage for more than a day or two because we are perpetually inundated by scandal.

But this offense, unlike the others, persists. It remains in the public consciousness not because it is exceptionally shocking, but because it feels like the third act of the story. In Stormy Daniels, Donald Trump has finally met his match.

Daniels is a foe unlike any the President has yet faced. She has no fancy education, no Purple Heart or Gold Star, no liberal agenda. Her superpower is doing everything Trump does, but better. She is neither the victim nor the villain. Stormy Daniels is America’s anti-hero.

Daniels transcended her humble beginnings through her career as a sex worker. She is a stripper, a porn actress/director/screenwriter and a part-time D-List celebrity. Her life’s work has been the promotion of hedonism, perversion and seedy activities.

On the surface, Ms. Daniels looks like just another low-life whose involvement with Trump has given them a platform they don’t deserve. But a closer look proves our anti-hero is the perfect foil to our two-dimensional antagonist.

In business ethics, the two could not be farther apart. Stormy Daniels has managed to succeed in a misogynistic, exploitative industry while remaining committed to producing culturally critical, quietly feminist porn. The only thing the President ‘committed’ to over the course of his mediocre career was fraud against blue-collar workers, the Central Park Five and his three wives.

These characters’ political philosophies are similarly divergent. Trump’s first earnest foray into public service flirted with fascism. He retooled the trope of the black male rapist, originally used to justify lynching, as the Mexican rapist, upgraded to justify mass deportation. On the other hand, Daniels’ short-lived 2009 Senate bid hoped to address dishonesty and corruption. Her opponent — an anti-abortion, anti-LGBT, pro-abstinence incumbent who had, ironically, recently been named in a D.C. prostitution scandal — motivated her to consider a run.

At the end of her brief candidacy, she asserted intersectional feminism and criticized the bourgeois establishment: “Just as these misguided arbiters of the mainstream view an adult entertainment star as an anathema to the political process, so too do they view the dishwasher, the cashier or the bus driver.”

To be clear, Stormy Daniels is no righteous revolutionary. “Don’t get me wrong, I’m not an angel,” she warned in a recent interview with Rolling Stone, “I’m capitalizing on this.” She is, however, intelligent, self-aware and deeply honest — everything the President is not — which makes her the only one who can destroy him.

Liberals love to throw around the term “anti-Trump” to describe any centrist corporate Democrat, particularly those they think might have a shot in 2020. But these are exactly the sort of candidates that created the conditions that made a Trump presidency possible. He was the inevitable ending to the political establishment’s neoliberal narrative.

This seemingly inescapable fate has only one resolution: our deus ex machina.  She is an external character, so she doesn’t have to symbolize lofty ideals like democracy or justice. She is the best-suited for the challenge, as she scorns the meaningless “respectability” politics Trump’s adversaries usually play. She is singularly poised to expose the impotence of our elected representatives, because a pornographer, unlike a politician, is honest about selling a fantasy.  The Stormy Daniels storm is the unexpected poetic justice that might save us after all.