Archive for Donald Trump

Nixon on Ice

Posted in FILM, Politics with tags , , , , , on March 26, 2020 by dcairns

SLEEPER came up in conversation the other day. You might want to consider getting frozen until this is all over (Covid-19/Trump/the Marvel universe).

The specific bit referred to is the reference to Nixon. Woody Allen has been revived from cryogenics in the year 2173, two hundred years after being put on ice. The people who have defrosted him try to bring him up to speed on historical developments.

A bit of TV news footage is screened for him: Dick Nixon addresses the nation. “Some of us have a theory that he might once have been a president of the United States, but that he did something horrendous so that all records, everything was wiped out about him. There is nothing in the history books, there are no pictures on stamps, no money…”

“Yes,” says Woody, “He actually was president of the United States, but I know that whenever he used to leave the White House the secret service used to count the silverware.”

What’s impressive here is that the movie opened in December 1973 and was presumably shot months earlier, and Nixon didn’t resign until August ’74. So that we could say that among his other accomplishments, WA doesn’t get enough credit for being a prophet.

(Please don’t let’s make this a referendum on his guilt or innocence vis-a-vis sex crimes. You’re allowed your opinion and I’m hanging on to my lack of one.)

I wonder how Trump will fare. Nixon, of course, was not erased from history but he certainly didn’t get commemorative stamps, just a bloated biopic. Trump seems unfilmable as even while he’s happening, he remains unimaginable. And there’s no inner life there to explore. Oliver Stone admitted he had to make his fictional Nixon gifted with more self-awareness than the real guy (as when he compares himself ruefully to Kennedy).

Back to SLEEPER: I had to look up a reference right before this one. It’s explained that our civilisation was largely wiped out by a war, when “a man called Albert Shanker got ahold of a nuclear warhead.” I had no idea who that was and probably audiences at the time outside the US didn’t either, but Shanker was president of the United Federation of Teachers. Which I find very funny, even without looking deeper into his character to discover what it was that made Allen feel he couldn’t be trusted with a nuke.

Mad in USA

Posted in FILM, Politics with tags , , , on August 21, 2017 by dcairns

 

One of my big theories, which I may have mentioned before, is about projection. We project onto our enemies our own most shameful traits, and so who we hate and why we hate them sometimes says more about us than them. I don’t feel bad about hating Donald John Trump for his stupidity, grandiloquence, intolerance, aggression and dishonesty, since those are all qualities I can find in myself, and I find them deplorable.

What I find interesting is how all the insults Trump applies to others — and for a man with such a limited vocabulary, he has used quite a few — apply better to him than to those he attacks. Crooked! Sad! Failing! And the alt-right’s phrase “virtue signalling” — used whenever someone to the left of Hitler says something they be honestly believe to be nice, something that actually IS virtuous, becomes an interesting one.

Firstly, when did virtue become something to be held in contempt? But the addition of “signalling” makes the intent clear: this supposed virtue is a sham, it is merely part of a ritual whereby leftie types self-indentify to one another. I’m nice, are you nice? It still doesn’t strike me as that awful. I don’t see why anyone would have a problem with it. But the alt-right are pretty different from the conservatives. It’s been argued that while liberals care about the most good for the most people, or at least like to think so, conservatives care about “values.” Which have nothing to do with anybody’s wellbeing and are often mere bigotry. So a conservative can be in favour of something that will have only negative effects, like the war on drugs or the right to bear arms, but that doesn’t matter, because what’s important is that it’s, in fact, virtuous, according to the rule-book (which is typically some interpretation of the Bible, the Constitution, or something heard on Fox News).

But at a certain point, conservatism shades into the even more toxic alt-right, who are full of hatred and negativity and know it. It makes them feel better to believe the left are insincere, full of the same nastiness, just lacking the balls to come out and admit it.

But ironically, the right are the ones who are always signalling. Liberal “virtue signalling” could be more simply described as “stating your beliefs” or maybe “stating your professed beliefs” if you want to be cynical about it. The signallers, the code-users, are on the alt-right. “Globalist” means Jew. They know it, and they know we know it, but only those dumb neo-Nazis who are spoiling the fun for everyone else would admit to anti-Semitism. The right have all these corny sayings, “red pill” and shit like that, and they also have this carefully maintained not-too-plausible deniability, a gossamer-thin veil between their outward presentation and their obvious, but never confessed racism.

Is Trump’s obsessive use of the “OK” gesture a White Power sign? (The three raised fingers form a W, the circled thumb and forefinger and the ball of the thumb a P.) This seems to have started off as a 4-chan hoax. But now it’s a well-known enough meme that a smart president would avoid doing it. So that the fact that Trump continues to do it, can’t seem to SPEAK without doing it, starts to look like a genuine signal.”Look, I’m using a symbol with racists associations, AND I DON’T CARE.

If you look at the OCCASIONS his tiny thumb and forefinger meet during his notorious, and live-in-ignominy historic Trump Tower press conference, I would point out two things –(1) it now seems connected in his mind with white power, because he uses it whenever talking about white supremacists and (2) he definitely isn’t using it to mean “OK.”

One last movie-based observation since this is supposed to be a movie blog (but this stuff is OBSESSING me right now). Ronald Reagan: movie star. George W. Bush: executive producer (of THE HITCHER and others). Steve Bannon: movie producer (appalling political “documentaries,” somehow owns a piece of Seinfeld). Maybe nobody associated with the movie business should be allowed in politics?

Donald Trump has been in several movies, but he should have been disqualified anyway for being an evil, stupid, corrupt, racist asshole.

The Demagogue Agog

Posted in FILM, Politics with tags , , , , , , , , , , on October 11, 2016 by dcairns

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A FACE IN THE CROWD is a great monster movie.

My investigations into Elia Kazan stalled slightly but I need to get them moving again because there’s still so much good stuff to see. This one was so absurdly timely I knew I had to catch it before events overtook it entirely, which they practically have. The protagonist, “Lonesome” Rhodes (Andy Griffith) can stand comparison with Donald Trump in many ways, but rather than being a caricature he’s actually more restrained. He’s a more appealing figure in every way — he actually has charisma and talent, for one thing. Trump only ever had a big mouth and the mirage-like aura of success, which is apparently enough to command respect.

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As I say, it’s a great monster movie. Rhodes starts small, like the Ymir in 20 MILLION MILES TO EARTH (released the same year) but expands to nation-threatening proportions thanks to the media. Patricia Neal, who had dealt with alien enigmas in THE DAY THE EARTH STOOD STILL and STRANGER FROM VENUS, has the role of Frankenstein, raising the creature from its harmless microbial form and rendering it dangerously powerful.

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The real horrorshow imagery is at the climax, where the monster’s raging shadow is shown, elongating arms waving ape-like against the New York skyline, a vivid and unmistakable evocation of KONG. Both big sideshow acts meet their doom atop Manhattan skyscrapers. And as Griffith’s ballsy perf, which has always been BIG, runs amok in the final stages of ego meltdown, his twisting, empurpled lips resemble those of Fredric March’s Mr. Hyde, another hideous id unleashed upon an unprepared civilisation.

Like most of the best monster movies, this is a warning, and now seemingly a prophecy.