Tag Archives: Trump

Ripped from the Movies: Five Films Explain Trumpland

Movies are more than just a tumble of images to fill our time; they are stories crafted from human ideas, fears and longing.  To look into a movie is to look into the human animal. These days the wildest animal around is the marmoset that’s running the country:

How to make sense of these times run by a tiny-handed (look he can barely hold a piece of apple!) comb-over-wearing primate hellbent on dismantling our democratic institutions? Let’s go to the movies! Much has been made of the connection between Trump and George Orwell’s 1984, so much so that the book has been flying off the shelves since the election. But what about other films featuring a world gone mad? These five films shed light on the devious nature of humans and the horror that we create when we let the worst of us be the first (family).

Manchurian Candidate

This 1962 thriller tells the story of a President controlled by a foreign administration–China in this case, or “Gyyna,” as Trump would say.  In the film, the Manchurian candidate is brainwashed after being captured in war.  In the Trump tale, the candidate was pee-washed in a Russian hotel room and paid off by Putin and his cronies.  With the film character, at least there was some hope of breaking through the brainwashing, but in our own sad story, we can only work to wake ourselves up from brainwashing.  Without a closer look at Trump’s taxes, it will be hard to find the financial connections purported to exist.  And if congress–Trump’s loyal lackey so far–get’s its way you’ll never get to see his taxes. Sidenote, the Manchurian candidate was easily controlled for a few reasons, one being he was not the cleverest guy in the room: looking at you, Don.

Children of Men

This is a tale of a world facing the ultimate decline–no more babies.  Before I make a joke about seeing Trump every day and a failing libido, let’s look deeper.  In the world of the movie, an undiagnosed infertility slowly takes hold till the world’s youngest person is 7 years old.  Trump’s plan to gut Planned Parenthood and restructure health care will leave women’s reproductive care underfunded and unmandated.  It’s a bad look to ignore the care of our human-making machines, especially in an age when infertility, just like in Children of Men, is on the rise for unknown reasons.  Also in the film, the government responds to the crisis by beefing up a police state at war with immigrants because of course when the country is crashing, a safe distraction is mass deportation…..insert side-eye here.

Elysium

Speaking of treating whole groups of people horribly while the elite watch the world burn from their castle, Elysium takes the wall of Trump’s dream to astronomical proportions. Like our own real and fragile earth, in this film, the Earth can no longer support our fabulous way of life as is, so the elite make sure everyone has a new home say fuck y’all and build a space station where they hog all the good stuff, including life-saving medical care.  Elysium helps us see why health care has to be a human right if we truly hope to retain our humanity. Members of the Trump administration and their cronies, including associates of Peter Thiel, have no problem creating health interventions that will only be available to the wealthy. Meanwhile, Trump is busy trashing Obamacare with no viable replacement plan in sight. it seems like former representative Alan Grayson’s prediction is coming to pass.

If you don’t want to have to steal a space ship to get an MRI, you better keep an eye on the fast-moving health care bill and the fallout sure to follow.

Idiocracy

The world is full of stupid people, controlled by corporations, dominated by an absurd media environment, where intelligence is attacked, and sensible responses to climate change are demonized.  That’s the movie.  Wait, no, that’s now.  Hmm, maybe this movie, as bizarre as it is, is too close to today to be impossible. Similar to Brave New World–and different from 1984–people in this dystopian future are controlled not with fear but with pleasure, full of food and mindless distractions until they are simply dumb downed fodder to be controlled by the corporatocracy.  So don’t let the promise of America’s glorious past, the GMO’s and the tweets lull you to sheep–stay woke.

Gaslight

Much has been made of Trump’s use of a psychological manipulation technique referred to as gaslighting, named for the 1944 Ingmar Bergman movie Gaslight.  The term refers to someone–in this case our marmoset-in-chief– trying to make you think that you are losing your mind a la I-never-said-that-even-though-you-have-a-tape-of-me-mocking-a-disabled-guy.  I went back and watched Gaslight, and found even more alarming connections: not only does Gregory the Gaslight villain try to make poor Paula (Bergman) think she’s losing it, he plans to scam her before they even fall in love.  It’s not casual manipulation, it’s a planned conspiracy to defraud and destroy a person he would pretend to love–feeling the burn yet Trump voters?  Like our own Cheif Cheeto, Greg the gaslighter is a con man, pretending to take on a role he is ill-suited to so he can swindle poor Paul out of her estate.  In the end, caught dead to rights and confronted by Paula, the con man simply cannot acknowledge the truth.  A con to the very end.  Let’s not wait 4 years to expose the con man in our own story.

So build a watchlist for this weekend–and keep you thinking hat on. We’ve seen this movie before, but this time we’ve got to rewrite the ending.

 

T(rump) Minus 6

We landed in Washington D.C. yesterday, a gaggle of activist students, their queer polis-sci professor and me, afro flying my flag of blackness above my airplane seat.  The airports, the streets are awash with pink pussy hats and red white and blue patriotic chic.  The air contains just a hint of pep rally. The grim reality gives off a scent more like that Aztec ballgame where the losers are decapitated.

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In just six hours, a few miles from here Donald J Trump and his creep squad cabinet will take over the country that I have lived in and loved my whole life.  He has promised to enact policies that will hurt the people I love and care about, including each of the students with us on this trip.  The pink hats are so cute (thanks, Aunt Kathie!) but make no mistake this is a fight.

Scene: Interior, day before the inauguration, hotel lobby. Beneath the altar of CNN on the big screen a bunch of liberals from Boston–identifiable by our Boston swag and the girls’ Olivia Pope outfits, and in that corner three women painted in stars and stripes.  The hotel staff watch the action like tourists on safari.

Hotel manager:  Ha ha, hope there’s not going to be a rumble!

Trumpette: grumbling loud enough for all to hear. I wouldn’t mind seeing that.

Me: Ha, ha…You don’t want to catch these hands.

Trumpette: Let’s be peaceful….(to her cronies.)  I hope they remember to be peaceful on Saturday [for the anticipated Women’s March]

Me: (to students) Saturday you’ll get to see the amazing tradition of nonviolent protest that is such an important part of our country.

End scene.

Would I have rumbled with an older lady in the hotel lobby?  In the rarefied air of the inauguration, the hate and division are real and palpable as my anger hurt and fear over this election and the 4 years to come. yesterday evening I replayed the scene in my mind–how easy it was for me and a stranger to escalate to threats lightly veiled in laughter in just seconds. These past few years have required me to swallow more than a little anger and hurt. I had to admit that it is too easy to slide into the playground taunting.  But in a quiet moment, I remembered that I’m not about that, no matter how much they spoil for a fight. In the land of the walking dead, its is key to remember that you are not them.

So, old lady, you may not catch these hands, but I am coming for you with the full force of resistance and that really packs a punch.  And the fight is just about to start.

This Is Why We Fight

In trying to make sense like so many of you today, I looked into this moment for an opportunity–and I found one. Sexism, racism, homophobia, and xenophobia are no longer the monster under the bed or hidden beneath napkins and polite conversation at dinner.  These insidious beasts that  have stalked our nation are now out in the open.  This past year’s contentious election has shown us all who wants to stand with us, and who doesn’t.  Maybe this isn’t a moment we can’t imagine.  Tonight I saw mass protests of women and men and trans people and whites and blacks and Latino and disabled people and people that love all those people unified together with clear and common purpose. Maybe this is the moment we find our common purpose and rise to meet it.

This moment is not about Donald Trump or 2016 or the Republican Party.  No, this moment is a long time coming, the moment when the immovable object of white supremacy comes face to face  with the unstoppable force of the demographic shifts that will make American a minority-majority country.  This moment isn’t the first  battle but could very well the last stand of white supremacy against the truth of the multicultural coutry we already are.

Is: the present tense. Not was, the word of the past.  Not will be, a magical future that is always the day after tomorrow and never the now.  Is. Present . Right now. If you weren’t an ally before, it doesn’t matter. If you’ve been fighting and you’re tired and you want to give up, that was before.   If you think it will be better in two four or eight years, so what? This is now. Focus on the present.

Why is more important that what or how. What justice looks like and how it arrives requires a multitude of views, a flock of answers, a riot of solutions, more ways up the mountain.  But the why is steadfast, unchanged and still the goal even extending into the future.  To form a more perfect union.  That was why  in the past  and will be why in the future but most importantly is the why now.  In a world that makes you feel like you are drowning this why is your life raft.

We feel new feelings. We have never in our lives felt more threatened, or been more ready to fight.  We have spent these last years mobilizing activating, networking an connecting.  You were the left hand.  You were the right foot.  Parts of the giant of the electorate have shaken themselves from slumber. We were woke separately by issues specific to important aspects of our identity. We are awake together now.  We have been building the will and skill to organize, maybe in preparation for this very moment.

Fight: that is what comes next.  Fight is what ancestors who lived and died in slavery did even with no end in sight.   Fight is what women did who secured the vote and the right to choice. Fight is what we did when police shot our brothers and sisters in the streets. Fight is what they are doing tonight at Standing Rock.We don’t play, guess, plead or wish. We fight.  We fight hard and clean and often and together and separate in big and small ways.  We raise our fists and our signs and our voices and our children to fight.

When you want to know how this could be, when you cry tears to make room in you to keep going, when you ask what we should tell the children I offer you my unconditional love, and a mantra.  This is why we fight.

image credit: Samuel Mitchell, from the Boston Trump protest march 11.9.16

Obligatory ‘You’re Fired’ Themed Headline

It looks like NBC isn’t going to wait until primary season to dump the Trump.  The network announced to day that it would be cutting all ties with the billionaire bombast, including Trumps once-bold-now-old reality show The Apprentice.

The Donald wasted no time before taking to the airwaves and blaming the break on political correctness.  Trump released a statement today on Instagram which said in part “NBC is weak and like everybody else is trying to be politically correct…” showing that he is powerfully incorrect in his understanding of the current state of America.

Trump called Mexican immigrants rapists and murders.  That’s not edgy commentary; he is stating this as fact, going so far as to double down in his statement this afternoon.  The fact that NBC is cutting ties with Trump before the GOP which has some heavy lifting to do with Latino voters if they are to have any kind of shot in 2016.

Political correctness is a term so loaded as to lose any real meaning.  Most often it is swung like a bat at women and people of color who asked to be spoken to with dignity and respect.  The always implied idea is that those who want said respect are overreacting, need to get over it, are whining and bitching and basically ruining everyone else’s fun.

But we all pay–in one way or another–for the media messages we consume.  We pay cable bills and cell providers, click ads and pay with our time or attention.  Sometimes we pay with a vote for the messages we want to hear.  Why would any group of people want to be insulted by choice and on their own dime?  Why should any group allow themselves to be unfairly characterized just to bolster someones dogmatic campaign?  You, Trump can say what you like, and the people have the right to tell you to go screw.

Latinos make up 17% of the American population.  Other oft-dissed groups: women make up 50% of the population, African Americans at 12% , Asians at 7%–that all adds up to a lot of people.  People want to see themselves reflected and represented in a way that is respectful.  That’s not to say people can’t disagree, but slandering 55 million people isn’t respect.

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As America grows into a country lush with diversity, our entertainment, political and social dialogue should reflect.  Media celebrities complaining about political correctness are behind the curve. Plenty of smart edgy controversial people talk about identity, but the days of being able to be outright offensive without people calling you on your shit are over.  This isn’t Mad Men, Trump, and you are no Don Draper.  Connecting rape and murder to an entire race of people isn’t politically incorrect, its just incorrect.