An American tradition: Ken Bone’s rise and fall amidst the political scene

Image Courtesy CNN

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By Alex Romano, Contributing Writer

Of all the things to come out of the presidential debate two Sundays ago, who could have guessed that the goofy-looking coal plant employee from Illinois would prove the more compelling character than the two candidates on stage?

But this man, Ken Bone, emerged the winner of the bloody match-up, rising above all of the accusations and recriminations from the debaters with his charmingly dorky apparel and cartoonish glasses. He asked a sincere, serious question concerning energy policy to both candidates, and did so with such a disarmingly pleasant demeanor that his sweater-wearing image brought a strong red beacon of light to shine in the dark election year of 2016.

Naturally, due to his quirky appearance (he looks like he belongs on the set of a Wes Anderson film) and meme-baiting face, Bone became the newest star of the Internet’s popular culture the week of October 9. However, the investigative journalists of the Web soon uncovered some dirt on Bone, including unsavory comments on Reddit regarding naked leaked photos of Jennifer Lawrence, questionable remarks on the Trayvon Martin shooting, and boasts about committing insurance fraud. As a result, it was not long before the blessings and warm regards that Bone received on social media for his appearance at the debate turned into empty threats and criticisms for his seedy Web persona.

Now the Internet’s most recent five-minute darling is just another symbol representing the two-facedness of America’s public figures.

But why? Ken Bone is just a man. He is a flawed man, but a man, nonetheless. And, beyond simply defending the Illinois coal plant worker (which is a waste of time on its own), the entire Ken Bone phenomenon was bunk to begin with. The reason that Americans fixated on the innocent-seeming Bone was because his friendly aura offered a cheap escape from the coldness of Hillary Clinton and the vulgarity of Donald Trump, and the public was relieved to have such a distraction in this goodness vacuum of a campaign season.

He was just a sideshow to amuse ourselves and ease our minds of the collective anxiety engendered by the current political scene. But, when Bone’s darker side came to light two weeks ago, people began to see a degree of Clinton’s coldness and a generous dash of Trump’s vulgarity in their new saint, and soon enough Internet users had to cope with the reality that Ken Bone was, in fact, a human being.

If Bone’s rise is a prime example of the American public’s desperation for an escape from the brutality of the real world, then his fall represents our country’s love of tearing people down after building them up. Both the thirst for distraction and the appetite for scandal are now traditions in American culture.

This phenomenon may actually have revealed something about our nation’s psychology. But, all in all, Bone was merely an irritating distraction from the turbulence of the era. So it would be best to forget about him and let him re-enter a life of relative anonymity, so that the country can return to paying full attention to the presidential race. In other words: it was cute at first, but, let’s knock it off now, huh?

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Author: Alex Romano

Alex Romano '20 is currently editor of the Opinions Section for The Gettysburgian, and is studying to earn a double major in English with a Concentration in Writing and History, and a minor in Theatre Arts. He is also a member of the Film Society and has interest in the school radio program, the literary magazine, and awards offered through the school’s English Department.

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