Renaissance man Eric Bogosian — playwright, novelist and actor — stopped by Salon this week to talk about his long career as a multi-hyphenate. From his renowned play "Talk Radio," which premiered 30 years ago, then became a cult classic film, to his current role in the Showtime hit series "Billions," Bogosian has found that rare way to stay relevant in and outside of Hollywood while still doing the work that’s most meaningful to him. He shared a few thoughts on the role performance plays in public life now that Donald Trump is in the White House.
"I think all of us are kind of depressed by too much coming at us every single day, but I do want to say that being a performer, I totally recognize that the Donald Trump era is all about performance," Bogosian said. "But what I think a lot of people don't realize is that Adolf Hitler started as a performer. That's why he became so popular. He would get in front of crowds and they would go mental. The guys who were running the right wing in Germany were like, 'Let's get this guy — every time he shows up, a lot of people come.'"
Bogosian said that performance has come to influence life in a way that's so omnipresent, many of us no longer recognize it's there. "You'd think there would be some kind of objectivity at this point, but it still comes down to who can grab an audience, and he does," he said.
"From my perspective, and I'm an old [Marshall] McLuhan fan — so I think the medium is the message — the medium is social networking, and the medium is being inundated by information all the time," Bogosian continued. "So we kind of inherited this bizarro political system because of all this. Forget Donald Trump: [it happened] before this logjam we've had for the last few years, where nothing can get accomplished."
Bogosian expressed exasperation over what he sees as a fundamental discrepancy between human and political capital, too. "We call ourselves intelligent beings, and we don't do intelligent things," he said. "I don't see how you can live in a society and dedicate hundreds and hundreds and hundreds of millions of dollars to war, but when somebody needs to be taken care of in a hospital or school, we don't have the money for it, or we can't spend the money. I don't understand it."