Quote: “I’ll be back. I always come back” (line by title character Chucky in Child’s Play film series)
In the news: As Support for Trump Impeachment Grows, His Base Digs in Its Heels (Jeremy W. Peters, The New York Times, 10.21.19)
In context: Horror is a fictional genre with a large fan base. If presented as fact, say as a documentary, the plot-lines and characters would fall flat, fail to sell their product.. Viewers would not be swept beyond reality through imagination, the “willing suspension of disbelief” defined by classic writers as a satisfying experience created by theatrical drama.
The Trump presidency has turned that theatrical world of drama upside down. The horror genre is now the reality for a third of the world’s leading country and the rest of the country and the world struggles to get the genre back into its proper place in the realm of real human affairs.
With the rise of Donald Trump, a third of America willingly suspended its disbelief that an asocial person could lead a successful society. By embracing Trump, they took a gamble on an amoral person, bettin that he would “make America great again,” whatever that meant.
The MAGA slogan was catchy and caught the imagination. It was general enough to let the willing fill in the blank with what they wanted, whether a strong economy or security from an onslaught of dangers ranging from invaders to diseases or faceless enemies
Once caught in the dramatic stream, the Trump base held on ever tighter as resistance mounted. The base had suspended disbelief. They had paid their entry fee against the odds and they were hell-bent on seeing what happened next. Trump was exciting. He was different, breaking new ground, meeting enemies and using amazing tools to vanquish those unable to see his great powers.
Trump’s presidential playbook could well have come from Chucky, the fictional horror character who was a serial killer returned to life in the form of a doll to take revenge on the law-enforcer who stopped him. Chucky first appeared in the 1988 Child’s Play, where he wreaked havoc on a family and ended on a trash heap. He came back in sequels and remakes, kept alive in between with Chucky caps, mugs and other spin offs. The Cult of Chucky was released in 2017, the first year of Trump’s presidency. In 2019, the original Child’s Play was re-released with Chuchy reincarnated as Buddi. A Chucky TV series is planned for 2020, the year of the next presidential election.
Obviously the horror genre is a terrific draw in capturing and holding interest in the safe confines of screen or page. In the unpredictable hazards of real life, horror is an uncontrollable nightmare full of chaos. In the case of Chucky Trump, the result is and America afflicted with social schizophrenia.
Trump in the social media age has made America a nation with a split personality. The third of the population hooked on Trump believes that legitimate news is “fake” and that unchecked retweeted lies carry the authority of the US Presidential Office. That part of America acts on the right side of the brain, the creative and emotional that wants to believe that Trump is delivering on what he promised, whatever that was. If nothing more, he is delivering more excitement than the last time.
The other two-thirds of America correlates with the left side of the brain, the logical that did not suspend its disbelief when Trump did not make sense. Disparaging war heroes, dismissing Gold Star families, caging immigrant children and peddling obviously false facts were not elements that logical Americans accepted as reality for the country. That part has brought impeachment proceedings against Trump in an effort to free the brethren addicted to the Chucky Trump Horror Show.
“Brevity is the soul of wit,” the great Shakespeare said. “If I had more time, I would have made it shorter,” the great American Henry James wrote. “You’re fired!” the current American president declared repeatedly at great length during a TV series that first hooked the audience that became his presidential base.
That Trump base will stay hooked on the Chucky Trump Horror Show until the difference between theater and reality hits home. Perhaps that will happen when imagination takes the great leap from theater to logic.
“You’re fired!” may be a snappy tag line for a TV show, even if more than a tad sadistic given how frantically contestants vied to be chosen as supplicants for the Trump business empire. In true reality, the term “You’re fired” is rarely welcome news.
That distinction between theater and reality may dawn on Trump fans as the horrors of his administration continue to surface despite his best efforts to squelch them. In the meantime, Trump fans can ease America’s schizophrenic phase by waiting for Chucky on the screen, leaving America and its Constitution intact with untold sequels still to unfold.