If they were still alive today, you might well ask – how would some of the great American movie directors like Robert Altman and Stanley Kubrick react to the recent Trump political rally in Tulsa, Oklahoma? If ever there were the ingredients for another cutting American satire, the Tulsa rally had it all – jingoism, xenophobia, old school patriotism, hysteria unintentional comedy (lots of it), name calling and of course lies. About the only thing it didn’t have were face masks!
The BOK Center housing the circus was said to hold around 19,000 although early TV coverage, when Mike Pence was spruiking indicated it was only three quarters full. When Trump appeared the cameras zoomed in, quickly removing any view of empty seats. Given that Oklahoma was one of many US states experiencing a substantial spike in COVID-19 cases, it was remarkable that so few of the Trump supporters were wearing face masks. Whether this was an act of defiance or just plain stupidity is open to debate. Masks and hand sanitizer were on offer to the crowd entering the stadium and all attendees were supposedly ask to sign a legal waiver promising not to sue if they contracted COVID-19 at the event.
With the recent spike of COVID-19 cases in Victoria, it’s clear that we are experiencing a degree of complacency in this country but nothing like the madness exhibited at the Tulsa Trump rally. Once public health issues become heavily politicised, as we are seeing in many US states, ignorance takes over – driven in many cases by a blind chauvinism.
So what then would an Altman or a Kubrick or a John Sayles come up with if you handed them the ‘germ’ of a screenplay culled from Trump’s BOK Center rave. It would surely have all the elements of a Nashville come Dr Strangelove come Silver City amalgam of paranoia, conspiracy and insanity. Let’s call it The Clockwork Orange Donald.
It’s the story of a ruthless American presidential candidate, facing annihilation at the polling booths, who devises a dastardly scheme to win over voters. A highly contagious virus is moving throughout the country, although health authorities are confident they will soon have it under control. The candidate, however, has other ideas and sees great political mileage in its continuing spread, especially if he can blame it on a consortium of his many enemies.
He quickly organises a series of mass rallies all across the country, aligning Christian conservatives and the Boogaloo Boys to stage massive evangelical events. His zealot like followers are encouraged to discard their masks, have faith in the Lord and take the free hydroxychloroquine like drug that he hands out with his blessing.
The drug actually works in combating the virus but has the rather unfortunate side effect of turning its recipients orange. Within weeks there are millions of orange Americans who quickly distance themselves, both physically and ideologically from the rest of the population.
The candidate loses at the election but his millions of supporters are forever tinted orange, soon becoming a racial minority in their own right. There’s no commune in Oregon for these ‘orange’ people and they vent their anger with a series of “Orange Lives Matter” protests. In the meantime the candidate has fled to North Korea to take up an offer as a real estate developer in Pyongyang with his old mate Kim Jong-un, reprising the role of Kim Jong-il in Team America.
The movie is a dark, disturbing satire on the state of American politics but nothing like the soon to be real life debacle when the 2020 presidential campaign reaches its full fury. In the meantime be grateful we have a widespread consensus, both public and political to deal with the pandemic in this country. I’d rather be in Toongabbie than Tulsa!