Orange Man Bad

The life and times of Donald Trump.

President Donald J. Trump talks to members of the press on the South Lawn of the White House Friday, Feb. 7, 2020, prior to boarding Marine One to begin his trip to Charlotte, N.C. (Official White House Photo by Joyce N. Boghosian)

Do you know why they don’t make movies about real life?

Even movies that are “based on a true story” aren’t real life.

In The Perfect Storm, for instance, no one comes back alive from the doomed ship we see at the beginning of the tale. Every minute of the story from the time that ship sets sail at the very beginning was pure speculation.

The people about whom these fictionalized accounts are told often don’t even recognize themselves in the finished work, which is so filled with inaccuracies as to be almost unrecognizable from the original events.

Many times in the movies, different real-life minor characters are combined and their characteristics amalgamated and emphasized for dramatic effect into a single role. Then an actor re-interprets the role as written, creating another level between what happens in real life and what happens onscreen.

Real life is often boring, tedious, nuanced, messy, ugly, and ambiguous in ways human beings do not find entertaining or enthralling. Think of someone telling a long story with a lot of unnecessary detail versus a pithy summation or parable.

In movies people are, for dramatic purposes, overly-caricatured. Anyone you encounter in movies or television has to compensate for the fact that these mediums do not usually reveal a character’s feelings or internal monologues beyond what they explicitly say and do. As such, words and actions must be exaggerated.

Characters in movies also are often one-dimensional. The good guy, the bad guy, the cowboy, the princess, the hero, the tomboy, the prodigy, the coach.

To movie characters, things happen in their lives that are meaningful, significant. The person who finds their lost dry-cleaning ends up being the true love they lost when they were 18 and everyone lives happily ever after.

In movies, characters meet once and fall instantly in love then meet again by pure chance, as they were always fated to do. In real life, people make a significant romantic connection with a stranger and never see that person again for the rest of their lives. All the signs were there; in the movies, it all would have worked out somehow. What a letdown.

Most of your favorite movies where everyone rides off into the sunset would have a postscript that would destroy the whole story in 10-seconds flat. Things like “succumbed to stage-5 cancer August 11, 1989 in Queens” or “killed in a car crash, 11-years later” or “the couple divorced after only 12-days together- after all, they had only just met”.

Who wants to watch that?

But wanting and expecting to be entertained and amused, frightened or scintillated during movies and television is one thing.

Expecting real-life, as reported by responsible news organizations- provided you can find any- to be as entertaining and satisfying as movies and television is quite another.

Yet, there is no question that journalists are using elements of storytelling to craft headlines designed to grab readers with a gut punch to some emotional center or another. Outrage is obviously popular; the more outlandish and hysterical the headline, the more it is rewarded in likes and retweets.

But most of the political outrage being batted to-and-fro by both parties betrays a certain logical principle. “Never attribute to malice what is easily explained by stupidity.”

Going through life believing that everyone you don’t like has the worst possible motive for doing the things they do at all times is a dim view of reality and humanity indeed. Not to mention a sure sign of watching too many movies.

Unless you are a bonafide psychic, boasting mind-reading gifts the rest of us can only dream of, you really have no idea what goes through the minds of other people, even those closest to you.

Well-intentioned, good-hearted, honest people have disagreements and misunderstandings with other like-minded individuals all the time. They aren’t terrible people; maybe one of them is tired from a new baby, or just received some terrible news from the doctor, or broke up with their girlfriend that morning before work.

It is possible that the driver who cut you off this morning did so because they were distracted, late for work (again), or racing to get home because they left the oven on. Assuming that the rude driver’s behavior is a result of a complete lack of any shred of human decency is a stretch, and stressful.

So too we must view the words and actions of people who must conduct their lives and business in the public eye. This includes all members of opposing political party.

Assuming every Democrat you meet believes as they do because they are lacking in basic human decency requires you to object to everything they do and say, regardless of the relative merits of the actions or words themselves. Likewise taking that attitude towards Republicans.

Democrats believe as they do because they believe in their hearts that Democratic ideals and principles are superior and essential for preserving and improving society. Republicans believe the exact same thing.

On one hand, there is believing that people are motivated by the concept of moral good as they understand it; on the other hand is believing that people are motivated by pure evil. One of these concepts makes sense; the other, not so much.

If you absolutely cannot believe members of an opposing political party are acting out of their own moral values system, flawed though that might be, at least be willing to admit the possibility that they may just be mistaken.

Stupid perhaps, but not evil. This theory, as it applies to people who don’t agree with you, at least has more applicability than the idea that every other person you meet in America is the devil incarnate.

Turning Donald Trump into a larger-than-life Democratic Party boogeyman has created an equal an opposite Donald Trump as some kind of anti-establishment folk-hero on the right.

There is a simple word for this tendency to view real people through the lens of characters we have seen portrayed in the movies and on television;


Further objectification of Donald Trump as the personification of evil for the purposes of click-bait will serve no purpose other than to erode the already-fragile public trust in our news organization.

(contributing writer, Brooke Bell)



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