I’ve been thinking a lot about Donald Trump lately.
I know it’s nothing new to talk about Trump in today’s volatile state of political goings-on. The current state of journalism is a miasma of half-hearted pandering hit-pieces that either caters to the left or the right without a smidgen of objectivity. Satire is dead, nothing matters, rinse and repeat, blah blah blah, fuck off.
So why am I bringing up the living Cheeto with a bad hair? Well, Netflix currently has an interesting four-part documentary miniseries entitled Trump: An American Dream, and since I’m a sucker for anything possibly controversial, I decided to sit down with a bucket of KFC and binge-watch it. And honestly, it was kinda interesting.
This isn’t going to be some half-assed attempt to humanize the Trump, but it’s more going to be a look into what no one else discusses: his rise to power, a lot of the behind-the-scenes stuff, and the media circus that is his legacy. So, everyone pretty much knows the whole story: born into wealth and to a real estate success story, renovated the Grand Hyatt hotel to much fanfare, built Trump Tower, entered the gambling game and failed rather miserably, got into stock trading and reality television, fast-forward to the 2016 election, bing bang boom, here we are now. That’s really it; that is the story of Donald Trump’s rise and rise.
Now, here’s what I picked up from it.
Trump, from the very beginning, was an odd character. It’s pretty well known that Fred Trump, his father, was a real estate master, despite some racist policies and shady business practices (gotta love American business), and in the documentary, some of Trump’s close friends relate how his father was a tough man, which might explain a whole lot of what came later when his most successful story arrived on the scene. The old adage of ‘like father, like son’ is certainly still prevalent, and there’s a very good case to be made about that being the case with Mr. D.J.T. The whole vicious cycle is very much possible. Maybe being in that kind of place as a kid really instills that sense of no-bullshit-go-for-the-balls business attitude. Anyone who denies that they’re nothing like their parents are, in my opinion, a goddamn liar: parental figures are some of the most influential figures in anyone’s life, intentionally or not. Now, on the flip side of all this, maybe Trump was always like this. There’s a story relayed by Trump’s mother in the documentary regarding the young future mogul borrowing building blocks from his brother, but instead of returning them, he glued them together. Maybe Trump always had that ‘if I think I deserve it, the universe will serve it’ attitude? I think this further muddies the waters in terms of discerning his real personality. That’s what I think is being lost in a lot of these discussions about the current U.S. president. He’s a weirdly complicated person who’s lived a life we’ll never live, was born into circumstances that we can’t even comprehend, and has done things that we barely can imagine doing ourselves.
If there’s anything I picked up from the documentary, it’s that people are complicated things. Nature versus nurture is a futile argument. The American dream is a lot of things to a lot of people, nothing new there, but it’s never been this one thing that all people can chase together. It’s changes from person to person. Trump’s American dream was to be successful, to make a fuck-ton of money and party with models. At least that’s what it looked like from down here on ground level. But there’s no telling what the ulterior motives are. Is he really that heartless? Yes, he’s said some fucked up shit, I’m not defending that, but when anyone is in that level of power, wouldn’t they feel like they could do/say anything and get away with it? People could take the life of Donald Trump and make it into a case study of affluenza and power’s ability to corrupt anyone. Believe it or not, there are moments in T:AAD that make it seem like maybe, just maybe, he wasn’t a total monster. He was described as personable, sociable, well-spoken, and even friendly. But as the documentary progresses, the changes become obvious as those once close comment as his behavioral changes.
The only other pieces of Trump media that’ve come about are a few other documentaries and that Funny or Die The Art of the Deal: the Movie, which I recommend, but one of the worst was a play I saw here in my town’s fringe festival entitled The Trump Card. What little info I know of its conception is that it’s apparently based on an off-broadway monologue that’s essentially two and a half hours of a guy doing a Trump impression. But what I saw was basically a lecture by university drama students about just how evil Trump and his brand of capitalism is. And ok, I don’t mind looking into the seedier side of the man, but to basically talk down to an entire audience just to stroke their own political views is kinda shitty in my opinion.
So, how should we go about talking about him?
Honestly? I say have fun with it. Stop building him up as a monster and started lampooning him properly. Call him a Cheeto, make fun of his failures, make up as many ugly jokes about him as you can. But don’t do it as a political statement. Do it because, through the documentary, I figured that the man is so successful that we ought to start having fun with this. The man is human, yes, but a story as honestly interesting and unreal as his, we could be having a lot more fun with this.
You may not like Donald Trump. You might not like that his lawyer was Roy Cohn. You might not like all the deplorable shit he’s said. You might not like his business practices. You might not like that he gamed the real estate system to become uber-successful. You might not like his hairdo. You might not even want to watch that admittedly interesting documentary miniseries about his career. You might not even get to the end of this blog. And that’s fair. I don’t like the guy either. But in a time where we need levity more than ever, well, let’s break out the rotten tomatoes, put down the protest signs, and write a few dirty jokes.
If there’s one thing I like about this planet, it’s our ability to make fun of anything in the most dire of times. I hope we can all calm down and just take the piss out of Donald Trump. You know, for shits and giggles.