Gordon Ramsay is just like Donald Trump. Maybe even worse, because many liberals regard his old fashioned capitalist authoritarianism as some kind of “realness.” The boss talks down the workers, who must simply obey and listen to their boss who “knows better.” The managerial class of capitalism knows better than the “uneducated” working class. Listen to the economists who gave us the 2008 recession. They still know better than the “unruly” mass.
But, Gordon Ramsay is a Michelin star chef! Yes, a star chef who mostly runs shit chain restaurants, with a few fancy ones for rich people. In fact, he’s no longer a chef. He’s a businessman. A celebrity CEO like Donald Trump. He isn’t really a working chef anymore; moreover, prestige and mastery do not warrant sexism and body shaming. Some might respond: “well, that’s just how it is in the cooking industry.” But, this is not really a response, because bullying workers was just how it worked in the factory too. It doesn’t mean we should keep allowing it to happen,
I understand the appeal of Trump and Ramsay. They’re a departure from the faux respect of 21st century capitalism. Workers are still subordinate to their boss, yet they cannot regard that relationship as exploitation anymore. The boss is a “relatable” person who cares about their workers. We all know, deep down, that the corporate structure cannot produce a genuine relationship between a worker and their boss without power dynamics. Yet, we have to pretend that capitalism now has a human face. Trump and Ramsay break apart that illusion. They give us the “real” face of capitalism.
However, it is dangerous to conflate their “realness” with reality. The reality is that a Trumpian CEO exploits us just as much as, or perhaps even more than, the CEO with a human face. Trump and Ramsay reap most of the profits of their businesses, while their workers — who produce most of the profit— make, more or less, minimum wage. Exploitation is still exploitation. The hyperreality of Ramsay is surely intoxicating. I am often entertained by Ramsay yelling at his contestants too. Our dull lives are shocked by the old face of capitalism. We escape into reality TV, because its hyperreality feels more “real” than the monotous lives of late capitalism. We live in the age of Francis Fukuyama, who proclaimed that welfare capitalism is the end of history. There is no system beyond capitalism; effectively, it means we have no future.
A society without a future is dull, because it has no vision. Our attempts to “fix” our problems always invoke the “good old past:” MAGA or New Deal Capitalism. Accordingly, the workplace has no future. It’s an everlasting present, in which we work from 9 to 5. Like a clock, it ticks the same way over and over again. You cannot care about a life that escapes the flow of time. Death and the uncertainty of the future make us care. This is why we need to be shocked into a semblance of caring through reality TV. Nonetheless, it is important to note that caring about hyperrality is distinct from caring about our actual lives. Trump or Ramsay as your real boss might not be so exciting. Furthermore, hyperrality does not have a future. It is a recording of staged events. Perhaps, it is time for us to reckon with our atemporal lives. To bestow upon it a future. The best things in life require uncertainty. Love is the act of falling for the other. To succumb to uncertainty. Similarly, caring requires us to head towards the future. Perhaps, it is time to be shocked by uncertainty rather than hyperreality.