Frank Underwood v. Donald Trump: A War of Words

Like many others, I spent my weekend watching the new season of House of Cards. However, I’m trying to take my time with it and I’m only three episodes into the new season (**no spoilers please!!**). However, after watching the third episode, bells started ringing in my head and I looked into the non-existant camera to break the fourth wall and share my inner monologue.

In the third ep, President Frank Underwood is in the middle of his re-election campaign, and on the day of the primary in his home state of South Carolina, the billboard which usually welcomes visitors into his hometown was taken over by a giant photo showing his father posing with a member of the KKK. And this all happened the day after he gave a rousing speech at a predominantly black church.

Underwood comes forward with the truth – or a version of the truth. He admits the photo is indeed real, but the story he tells explaining it (his dad was basically forced to take the pic to secure a loan to save the family farm) may or may not be the truth.

And of course my mind wandered to politics IRL, where we’re in the middle of our own presidential primaries and it turns out that people are voting for Donald Trump. It feels like we’re in a fictionalized version of America, but instead, we’re living in a real, non-fictional world where the frontrunner for the Republican party in the upcoming presidential election might possibly have ties with the KKK. You’ve probably heard by now, but in a nutshell, David Duke, former leader of the KKK, warned Americans that “voting against Donald Trump at this point is really treason to your heritage.” During an interview with CNN, Trump was asked whether he would condemn Duke and all white supremacists who plan on voting for him, to which Trump sideswiped the question and insisted he “doesn’t know anything about David Duke.” Apparently he forgot about all the time he did know something about David Duke. Since then, Trump has covered his tracks by insisting he “disavows” Duke, but hasn’t really elaborated on it.

The other interesting tie-in to HoC is that Trump’s father, Fred Trump (you know, the one who loaned The Donald a “small, $1 million loan“), also has a history with the KKK. In 1927, he was arrested after a klan riot in Queens, where 1,000 Klansmen & sympathizers of the Italian fascist movement marched through the borough, eventually sparking a fight with anti-fascists in the neighborhood. Two men were killed and seven were arrested, one of those seven men was Fred Trump. It’s not clear what Fred was doing there, what side he was on (if any) or if he was just an innocent bystander. One report suggests Fred was arrested “on a charge of refusing to disperse from a parade when ordered to do so.” So was Donald’s father a KKK sympathizer, and/or Italian fascist sympathizer? We don’t know for sure. Here’s a couple of things we do know: A) Fred and his Trump organization were hit with a civil rights suit by the U.S. Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division in 1973, accusing Fred and his org of refusing to rent to black people. B) Donald recently retweeted a Mussolini on Twitter – after Gawker secretly set him up.

In an interview with Meet the Press, Donald admitted he wasn’t aware the quote he retweeted was by Mussolini, and frankly didn’t care that it was said by the world’s most popular fascist (despite critics pointing out that Donald’s politics and oratory are v. similar).

“It’s a very good quote. I didn’t know who said it, but what difference does it make if it was Mussolini or somebody else – it’s a very good quote.” When asked if he wanted to be associated with Mussolini, he said, “No. I want to be associated with interesting quotes. Hey, it got your attention, didn’t it?”

So let’s try this out. I’ve got compiled a bunch of “interesting quotes” and let’s see whether you can tell the difference between a fictional, depraved politician who lit’rally killed both humans and an animal on his way to become president or if the quote is attributed to the real businessman-turned-politician who is entertaining his way to the top (highlight the text between the two arrows for the answer. If you’re on mobile, highlight the text and press ‘speak’ for a real good time).

“Democracy is so overrated.”

Frank Underwood

“Part of being a winner is knowing when to walk away.”

⇒    Donald Trump    

“Good people don’t go into government.”

⇒    Donald Trump     

“I’ll tell you this though. When they bury me, it won’t be in my backyard. And when they pay their respects, they’ll have to wait in line.”

Frank Underwood 

 

“I play to people’s fantasies… That’s why a little hyperbole never hurts.”

⇒  Donald Trump   

“It’s always good to do things nice and complicated so that nobody can figure it out.”

⇒  Donald Trump   

“I will not be a placeholder president. I will win and I will leave a legacy.”

Frank Underwood 

“I’d push him down the stairs and light his broken body on fire just to watch it burn if it wouldn’t start a world war.”

Frank Underwood 

“The point is, you can never be too greedy.”

⇒  Donald Trump   

“My motto is: Always get even. When somebody screws you, screw them back in spades.”

⇒  Donald Trump   

“Nobody’s a boy scout. Not even boy scouts.”

Frank Underwood 

“The more economic difficulties increase, the more immigrations will be seen as a burden.”

⇒  Trick question this was said by Hitler  

 

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When Binge-Watching Isn’t a Choice

The third season of House of Cards was plopped into millions of Netflix accounts on Friday, and many people began a weekend of binge-watching the Underwoods as they

*SPOILER ALERT FOR SEASON 2 FINALE*

…prepared to become the President and First Lady of the United States.

As I begun my travels to this messed up version of DC, I could only remember two things about what happened last season – that Frank became President, and Stamper got beat up. You can attribute this lack of memory to the fact that I can barely remember what I did yesterday or that sometimes I tend to not pay attention to what’s happening, but mostly, I think you can blame it on the fact that I wanted to watch the second season as fast as possible as to not get any spoilers.

I hate spoilers. Spoilers are the worst. I’ve had arguments IRL about this, and while I understand why people who like to get spoiled (e.g. will this person get killed? I need to mentally prepare), I am 100 percent on the side of not getting spoiled at all. For me, television is an escape. Escape from my daily, boring life, into places like corrupt D.C., or Pawnee or Scranton or 1960s New York City, or Stars Hollow. I treat the characters in the shows as if they’re real, and like real life, I don’t want to know what’s going to happen next. That’s the half the excitement. If I know I’m going to get fired on Friday, I will be worried every single second waiting for that moment where my boss takes me into his office and gives me the bad news. If someone is going to be unexpectedly proposed to at the end of a Halloween episode, I would much rather be surprised than anticipate the moment where he gets down on one knee, because, romance.

I watched Guardians of the Galaxy for the first time on Saturday (I know), and I had seen the GIFs of dancing baby Groot on Tumblr, and was expecting him to show up at any minute. So when the thing happens towards the end and then later dancing Groot appears, it didn’t have the same impact on me as I imagine it did for a lot of people. This is why I hate spoilers.

But with a Netflix show like House of Cards, everyone is watching it at a different pace. There’s no one episode a week, like traditional television. It’s 13 episodes put at your fingertips and watch at your own will.

Last year, I went to the ATX Festival in Austin, which is a weekend-long event for TV fans (we’re going together this June, so look out for that!). I went to a panel called #SpoilerAlert, and among the panelists were executive producer Beau Willimon from House of Cards and Netflix social media rep Eric Pallotta.

*ANOTHER SPOILER ALERT FOR EPISODE 1 OF SEASON 2 OF HOC**

Eric talked about how when season 2 dropped at 12am, they were tracking what was happening on social media in regards to the show – what topics fans were talking about, and what they were responding to. He said that around the 12:10am/10 minute mark (or whatever time The Train Incident happened), they noticed a huge spike in viewers’ tweets, reacting to Zoe’s sudden demise. However, most of the tweets didn’t read, “Z0MG FRANK JUST PUSHED ZOE IN FRONT OF A MOVING TRAIN AND THEN WALK AWAY RULLL CASUAL”, it was more like, “OMG” or “DID THAT JUST HAPPEN” or “emoji of a train #HouseOfCards”. There’s an unspoken language amongst binge-watchers, especially among the Netflix community, that lets other people know something big just happened, but also to show you’re in the know and hip because you’re watching HOC.

So, here we are. It’s been a few days since season three was available to view, and there are some who finished on Saturday, some who are close to finishing, and some who probably won’t get to it until the next free weekend they’re not doing brunch. According to Variety, two percent of all Netflix subscribers binge-watched House of Cards in the first weekend season two was released. That doesn’t seem like a big number, but that’s still a lot of folks who did nothing but watch HoC all weekend.

At what point is it socially acceptable to start talking about the monsters and aliens that take over Frank’s body and the White House (JK that doesn’t happen. OR DOES IT). Is two weeks enough time to even start talking about the first half? I’m always in awe of the folks who manage to avoid spoilers. I mean, it’s nearly impossible to not get spoiled these days. Merely watching other programs leads to getting spoiled on other shows (see: SNL sketch from Saturday about being Brave and the Breaking Bad finale). For me, with the nature of my job, I have to be on top of everything that happens in entertainment the minute it occurs, so usually, waiting to see a movie or watch a series finale months later is not an option. Bless the people who can live their lives without even the threat of being spoiled. But also, I am torn with the option of making season three last as long as possible. If I timed it as if I was watching a regular TV show, this experience could last me the next four-ish months! Maybe I’ll actually remember more details of what happens come season four when I can’t decide to binge or not to binge.

But right now, I am already more than halfway through this season of HOC, so I’m clearly opting to go the binge route and not be spoiled. I’ve backed myself into a corner of fitting as many HOC episodes I can in a day in order to beat the clock of spoils. Mr. Underwood has given me no choice BUT to binge – I guess television is like real life, isn’t it Frank?