<em>“Proximity to power deludes some into thinking they wield it.”</em>
—Francis Underwood, from “House of Cards”.
By the end of the 1980’s, Hollywood had a problem. The Soviet Union was collapsing. The Berlin Wall had fallen. And what was the first thing America gave the newly-freed nations behind the Iron Curtain? <a href=”https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0zXiClnK8oE” target=”_blank”>David Hasselhoff!</a>
With the fall of European Communism, Hollywood was losing one of its “go to” movie villains. Oh, Hollywood still had the Nazis. There will always be movie Nazis. But even chic bad guys like the Vietnamese were passe. Chuck Norris pretty much freed all the MIAs held in Vietnam from their captivity with a few roundhouse kicks and a well-delivered pithy one-liner.
The first sign of this new era came in 1989 with the release of the film “Lethal Weapon 2”. This film—which played into another ad hoc 80’s film genre, the cop buddy motif—had a rather unique group of villains: South Africans.
This choice was not illogical. South Africa lived under a system of racial inequality at the time known as Apartheid. They had German-sounding accents. They came from a far away country few knew about. They (mostly) had glacial blue eyes. South Africans were the evil offspring of Nazis and Soviets.
In hindsight, the movie was a failure. If the sole mission of “Lethal Weapon 2” was to kill all of the fanatical White supremacists, at the end of the film Danny Glover should have shot Mel Gibson.
And that started off the 1990’s. Hollywood (unfortunately) survived that decade with a slew of films adapted from John Grisham and Anne Rice novels. The main villains from the “Decade of Clinton” were lawyers and gay vampires—which are pretty much the same thing.
Fast forward to 2017. With 9/11 moving farther away in our rear view mirrors, the superhero genre dominates the film landscape. Film-goers are constantly deluged with movies about meta-humans closing a portal to an alternate universe filled with demons dedicated to world domination or destruction. These movies are loud, CGI-driven vehicles that all look the same. For more intellectually-sustaining offerings, you need to indulge in television.
With the proliferation of streaming services, television shows of many different varieties are available. One TV genre—and old favorite of Hollywood long ago discarded—is the political thriller. A show that I fancy in this arena is “House of Cards”.
This week, the fifth season of “House of Cards” was released on Netflix. This show stars Kevin Spacey as a ruthless U.S. Congressman who puts into motion many implausible schemes to ascend to the presidency. Through its run, enthusiasts of the show have loosed themselves from reality to enable themselves to enjoy the fiendish plots that drive its sociopathic protagonist into the Oval Office. You find yourself rooting for the bad guy to obtain unlimited political power. And so I was excited Tuesday night to sit down and watch the first episode of the new season.
Problem: I was bored. The episode kinda sucked.
Perhaps I am just tired of the recycled story lines that do come off as a retread. Maybe I should wait a few weeks to indulge in this show’s new episodes, as there are other avenues of entertainment that I am currently fixated with. But I think there is another reason why I might be done with “House of Cards”. I’ll give you a hint. It’s an orange creature with tiny hands that tweets.
President Donald J. Trump might have ruined the political thriller, irrevocably and forever.
Ponder on these questions: What possible grandiose stories could a fictional writer invent in their wonderfully creative minds that has not played out in the news since January 20th? What astonishingly clever plot twist could be invented for a fictional POTUS that you could not see playing out on any given day regarding Lord Tiny Hands?
All future television shows and films where the main characters are elected officials who do dastardly deeds in Washington, D.C. will automatically be disqualified as uninteresting by the viewers, who will each annunciate the same three words as they check Instagram on their phones.
Trump did worse.
That is where we are with this lunatic as our U.S. President. Donald Trump has created a surreal world that is somewhere in between farcical fiction and historically unprecedented non-fiction. I call it “Don-fiction”.
Don-fiction is based around a cult of personality that gathers together the most stupid, gullible and undereducated people in America who would never be invited to their Messiah’s golf course if only to wash the dishes to elevate him to being the POTUS.
Irony abounds in Don-fiction.
The protagonist then wins despite a series of inane, illogical and incomprehensible ramblings. The conflict of the story comes from intelligent people being vexed by the outright bigotry and misinformed mantras of the protagonist’s rabid followers.
After he is inaugurated, hijinx ensue.
We really are living through historical times. That’s not a good thing. President Trump’s obvious mental deficiencies, coupled with his buffoonery, sprinkled on top of that with his staff’s gross incompetence has created a worldwide crisis. The most powerful human being on this planet is probably crazy. And his handlers—if he has any—are in a continuous kerfuffle trying to figure out how to do the simplest tasks enmeshed in running the Executive Branch of the United States Government.
America is now a dystopian parody. An ugly country where our avaricious, clownish leader is sustained by his moronic followers. You, Trumpkins, are the B-story comic relief in every Don-fiction script. You continue to support this un-American charlatan, even as you wear American flag bandanas and drink cheap, tasteless American beer. And you lack the ability to post a single Facebook comment without using the works libtard and snowflake.
“Trump really stuck it to them libtards in the media. Pass me a Keystone Light and let’s grill.”
Hollywood will find new villains for their movies and TV shows. The death of the political thriller will be only briefly mourned. And we all can still enjoy political intrigue on a frequent basis. It will not be at a local movie theatre, or on HBO. You cannot find it streaming on Netflix. It is playing out, daily, on CNN and in the pages of the New York Times.