Yesterday I went with my wife to watch LALALAND.
I suspect my blog is not eagerly sought out by Trump-leaning folk, but any readers of that mindset will already be thinking “There’s another sad, liberal snowflake in thrall to his wife”. I should, therefore, make clear the decision was mine. If that merely confirms me as a sad, liberal snowflake, then so be it. People who figure things that way are so past reasonable debate that the effort is hardly worth the candle.
I thoroughly enjoyed the film, by the way, but this is not intended as a review. While watching, I couldn’t help but reflect on what is happening in America right now. If you were seeking a metaphor for the division between conservative and liberal America, Hollywood appears to lie along the fault line. As implied above, I think it a fair assumption that the core Trump supporter would not be a natural moth to LALALAND’s flame. Let’s face it, the film is in no small measure a paean to Hollywood, the creative process and, by extension, creative types. When Emma Stone sings about The Fools Who Dream, it could almost be a direct rebuttal to those, such as Trump and Piers Morgan, who consider actors as okay provided they don’t get above themselves and begin to speak out in matters political. It’s as if, in some way, an actor is expected to sign a waiver agreeing to leave his or her conscience at the door. Now, you wouldn’t expect Piers Morgan to tell members of his audience “you’re a plumber, so you have no right to express your opinion”. Why, then, the special pleading for actors?
The answer is clear. Actors have, in abundance, what Trump and his acolytes fear most: an ability to connect, to communicate and to inspire; to tell a story that makes an entire audience wake up from an emotional and intellectual torpor; to point out, on some of the biggest stages in the world, that the emperor, indeed, has no clothes.
Trump is not going to win over more supporters by any of the actions he has taken thus far. His fan base in the US comprises those who were already turned on by those sorts of thing, and those who were not but saw no better alternative in Hillary Clinton. As he is understandably loath to acknowledge, his ratings are already demonstrably poor, so, no matter how shrill the denials, it’s probable that he will only haemorrhage support from here.
Trump does not have intellectual rigour, he has intellectual rigor mortis. He is both educationally and morally moribund. To paraphrase Franklin, he died at 25 in both respects but has yet to be buried. He knows, and fears, that he lives with an ever-present Sword of Damocles: being irrefutably found out. Why else withhold his tax returns? Why else move to prevent his audit? He knows, and fears, that anything that keeps shining an unwelcome light on these matters can harm him immeasurably.
That is Hollywood and the entire entertainment industry’s power. Its own brand of populism scares him to death.
And if he thinks he is bigger than both, then he truly is living in la la land.