Sunday, February 28, 2016

What Donald Trump and 2016 Movies Have In Common

A week ago, I finally was able to catch The Revenant in the movie theater and before the screening I saw these previews:
  • Independence Day: Resurgence
  • London Has Fallen
  • The Conjuring 2
  • Captain America: Civil War
The Conjuring 2 preveiw was simply dark and eerie. This film finds itself in the poltergeist genre of horror films that mix spiritual fears, violence and a dark demonic world. Clearly this message is about fear, yet the other three films share this type of tone. Not the demons, but they play strong into a message of fear.

They aren't horror films (actually they're generally sci-fi or action thrillers), but observe their tag lines.

  • The tag line to the Independence Day reboot is "We Had Twenty Years to Prepare, So Did They."
  • The tag line for London Has Fallen is "Prepare for Bloody Hell." 
  • The tag line for the Captain America sequel is "Divided they Fall."
In the preview sequence of these blockbuster films I saw the world destroyed three times in a row. 

In simplest terms the world was destroyed by aliens, terrorist, and the corruption and ambiguity of government agencies. Oh yes, and super villains.

And yet, when people say "how can Donald Trump be so popular," it seems to me the question can be answered by asking the question as to why are the studios making films like London Has Fallen or Independence Day: Resurgence.

There may be buried in these films individuals who have hope, but the message is one of fear.

Going one step further - these film's messages we'd assume also have an answer to this fear, and the answers will come in the form of the film's heroes.  

The sequences in the London Has Fallen preview are almost laughable in the way that a US President and his secret service agent are portrayed. 

I don't deny that there is not something compelling in the leadership qualities the preview presents in Gerard Butler (secret service agent), Aaron Eckhart (president), and Morgan Freeman (Vice President).

But these attractive archetypes creates a leadership picture for presidency that frankly most leaders in politics and other sectors can't live up to. And yet, it seems clear in this election people are asking the question - can be leader stand up to anyone? anything?

I am not saying that all Trump supporters are essentially popcorn eating Captain America fans who can't distinguish the real from the dramatic. But I am saying that the movie studios are aware of the American appetite for images that play to our fears and insecurities. They are also aware that we are attractive to these images of leadership that are bold, independent, and can fight for America on the behalf of powerless individuals, searching for a leader in dark times.

This is a story line that plays well in Trump's hand in a way that others cannot (or maybe consciously are not) taping into - it plays to a catastrophic picture of our present times. It's a hopeless picture that positions people in a place where they are searching for a larger-than-life voice to stand in the gap to protect liberty and freedom.

Is this the world we live in? Is this the type of leader we need?

Hope is easily stolen, and reality is easily clouded by fear. And while there is certainly chance for some truth in Trump's messages, it also plays to a dark place in the American psyche. This same dark place that allows us to be drawn towards movies like Independence Day: Resurgence,  London Has Fallen, and Captain America: Civil War

1 comment:

lenny face said...

I've not watched this movie yet but from the score of IMDB 8.1/10 and rotten tomatoes 89%, I can say it's a good movie.