Since Donald Trump won the presidency, we’ve seen all manner of evidence that the left has lost its collective mind. First came the riots, during which a number of unfashionable districts of major cities experienced levels of violence not seen since the last Superbowl. Then, once the George Soros radical agitation funds ran out, various celebrities of grades varying from B to Z took to YouTube in a heartfelt plea to persuade Republican electors to go faithless and vote for someone, anyone, other than the guy who actually won the election. Finally, when that failed, out came the Big Gun–and those same celebrities took to YouTube once more with their own Carpool Karaoke version of “I Will Survive” (minus the car and the vocal talent) to assure the denizens of Middle America that, not to worry, even though they were down and out in Beverly Hills, they would somehow find a way to muddle through the impeding Trump presidency.
Sunshine and unicorns aside, one has to wonder if the discombobulated left really have found the tools they need to cope with the New New World Order. After all, denial is only the first stage of grief–and a long, long way from acceptance. That’s why, in the spirit of bipartisanship, I’d like to offer the first in a few handy guides on How to Understand Donald Trump’s Victory for Those Who Never Thought It Could Happen. It’s my hope that by offering explanations in clear, easy to understand pop culture language, the left–particularly the Hollywood left–can spread the word to their followers that the Trump Era is not the end for them, but merely a manifestation of the values that Hollywood has given us.
No, no, I’m not talking about the sex and violence–Planned Parenthood pretty much has the market on that cornered already. I’m talking about the much-loved but awards-bereft subgenre of slobs vs. snobs comedy exemplified by Caddyshack and Back to School.
Not coincidentally, both of these marvelous films were headlined by Rodney Dangerfield, that lovble slob who took on the snobs in his own inimitable way and came out on top. In Caddyshack, perhaps the most quotable movie of all time, Rodney plays a real estate millionaire (sound familiar?) who shows up at the Bushwood Country Club and immediately begins getting under the skin of Judge Smails, the uberwaspy establishmentarian whose sole joy in life is derived from controlling everything and everyone around him. Rodney, meanwhile, says he’s thinking of buying Bushwood and turning Smails and the rest of his uppercrust coterie out on their keisters. Looking at Caddyshack now, one can easily see Trump as Rodney, taunting Barack Obama on the golf course and yelling, “A hundred bucks says you slice into the woods!” Anybody want to take bets on where Obama’s ball is going? And let’s face it, Uncle Joe Biden makes for a perfect Spaulding:
“But I wanna run for president, Barack!”
“You’ll get a medal of freedom and like it!”
Then there’s Back to School. In that one, Rodney plays a clothing tycoon with a chain of Tall and Fat stores who shows up at his son’s college to talk him out of quitting, then decides to stick around and get a degree himself. Of course, some of the faculty are dead-set against an old rich guy with no academic record stepping in and disrupting their elite institution—which Rodney immediately sets out to do by remaking said institution to his own liking. Of course, resistance manifests itself in the stuffy persona of Professor Barbay, who thinks that economics is an entirely theoretical exercise in which running deficits for infrastructure can be either good or bad depending on who is occupying the White House at the time. Paxton Whitehead plays the role to perfection, but Paul Krugman would work just as well tussling with Donald Trump: theory vs. practice, in a rumble for the ages. Plus a spiffy Oingo Boingo soundtrack. That’s pure money, honey.
Point is, Rodney came into both of those movies and just bulldozed everyone. Sure, he’s a flawed guy and faces a lot of problems–but ultimately he prevails because that’s what the audience came to see him do. Similarly, Donald Trump took on a bunch of stiffs from both parties and prevailed—not so much in spite of his rude and crude behavior, but because of it. Throughout the campaign, even if you didn’t like the guy, you couldn’t wait to see what he would do next. Part of it was the sheer force of Trump’s personality, but another part was the utter lameness of the opposition thrown at him. Alicia Machado? Please. I’ve seen better performances in straight-to-video sequels to horror films I never knew even existed (that, and her load of baggage made Trump’s look like a carry-on). Billy Bush and the Access Hollywood tapes? Hell, Barack Obama had more risqué selections in the playlists on his iPod. Maybe the media cared about it—or at least pretended to—but almost nobody else did.
Trump, meanwhile, just kept on being Rodney.
And everybody wants to see Rodney win—especially when his opposition is Judge Smails. And Professor Barbay. And Dean Wormer, and Walter Peck, and every last one of the Alpha Betas from Revenge of the Nerds, all rolled up into one great big ineffectual Democrat/Media/GOP Establishment blob. Even for me, a Ted Cruz supporter, it was hard not to root for the guy when everyone was out to get him. After all, it was the stuff of all the movies I grew up on. You’d think that since all that stuff came out of Hollywood, they’d understand it too–but I guess that’s why we have explanatory journalism, right?
Now if I could only find a way to shoehorn a Meatballs reference in here…