Oh, a political tipping point. Oh, a haiku:
There’s a lot to unpack here. So much so that I had to take a moment to reflect in my comfiest of clichés: a haiku.
What brings us to this place, you ask? Recently Nate Rackiewicz, Chairman of Content Analytics powerhouse MeteorNow released a set of psychographics chronicling President Trump’s November 6th rally in Louisiana. The first?: a stunning radar chart displaying in plain sight the top emotions elicited by the event:
“Could this BE any more accurate? ~Chandler Bing, sometime in the 90’s
The nearly equal parts love, zeal and hate make so much sense. Is it love for the man, hate of the ‘Other’? Love of one ‘type’, annihilation of another? Admiration – of what? This is a potent zero-sum representation, where some people think there will be a winner and a loser in our current political crisis – when really it’s potential all-around failure in a fistfight. No one wins, we cancel each other out.
Guilt’s there for sure, creeping up on hate. The nearly equal parts of terror and sadness? I’m just gonna go with that as a universal feeling. None of us, on any side of a political aisle, nor on any part of this earth, could look each other in the eye and say we all don’t feel this to some extent.
Then it gets interesting. A second chart, displays a list of movies likely to be chosen by these people, or chosen for them. A storyboard, if you please.
*Disclaimer: I despise Trump. But I am equal opportunity objective. Take that as you will.
In isolation, each movie is funny and apposite. Spud 2, shall we?: “The year is 1991, and Spud Milton’s long walk to manhood is still creeping along at an unnervingly slow pace. Approaching the ripe old age of fifteen and still no signs of the much anticipated ball-drop, Spud is coming to terms with the fact that he may well be a freak of nature.” To be really fair, this could be Don Jr. too.
But, what if this list was more than that? More than a disparate collection of media or emotional metrics. Like any story, each provides either a recount, an allegory, or a foreshadowing. Oh Content Analytics, you dark art, you.
No, what if they’re chapters in a broader story. One where we could rearrange the chapters to predict and foreshadow alternate endings. Add some color to our emotional edges.
Stories are all around us, and all stories can be analyzed with Meteor Now, built on the fundamentals of behavioral economics, applied in a new context of media and entertainment. They subscribe to the philosophy that consumers tend to consume content that is representative of their aspirational selves. And don’t we? Pearl Harbor was a love story. In 50 years, 9/11 will be too. Watching the Crown on Netflix provides the right emotional agita as you imagine Queen Elizabeth trying to save London while wondering if her husband might be cheating on her. The QUEEN.
Tell me who hasn’t been there once or twice?
The old cliché is that art imitates life. It’s a mistake to assume movies, art, stories are the icing. Or dismissed as folly, even if superficial in their rendering (see: The Politician, Netflix). The art is sometimes the only safe space for a person to put themselves in another’s shoes. It’s subliminal empathy. Or guilt. You decide.
Before we get into it, I want to shout out something you never asked for-
In this movie list, only 4 credit a female director – roughly 20%. So, women are not in control here. However all, naturally, have leading ladies, quite a few of them A-listers which highlights the ONE universal truth:
Although women are not in control, no state or condition in the world – positive or negative – is capable of coming to life without a woman.
Read: Recent removal of reproductive rights starting in Alabama, our current White House, Gilead in the Handmaid’s Tale, the loss of Ariel’s voice in the Little Mermaid, workplace politics, education equality, the Christmas lineup of Hallmark movies (win!). I digress. I could write a whole new article on this topic alone, but that’s not what we’re here for.
So let’s get into it! To kick off your creative juice fleúx,
the cheesy word cloud to you see is an amalgam of the taglines in our movie list (courtesy:IMDB) . Fittingly, Spud 2’s is…. “No tagline”.
In our movie, affectionately known as Untitled, until the ending is clear, what if we play a game of Scene Jenga?
Naturally, Spud 2 has to come first. Sorry. Synopsis: “Spud is coming to terms with the fact that he may well be a freak of nature. With a mother hell-bent on emigrating, a father making a killing out of selling homemade moonshine, and a demented grandmother called Wombat, the new year seems to offer little except extreme embarrassment and more mortifying Milton madness. Fitting, no?
Let’s fast forward to Power. After a close friend drops out of politics, a political consultant helping to find a replacement finds a web of corruption and deceit as well . Yes, because in real life this could have been the purported Breitbart/Putin crew. Also yes, because we all know you-know-who would love to have Richard Gere play him, nón?
Next, The Candidate. And here is where it gets tricky for me “Bill McKay is a candidate for the U.S. Senate from California. He has no hope of winning, so he is willing to tweak the establishment.
Bill McKay fights for the little man. His charisma and integrity get him noticed by the Democratic Party machine and he is persuaded to run for the Senate against an apparently unassailable incumbent. It’s agreed he can handle it his own way, on his own terms. But once he’s in the race and his prospects begin to improve, the deal starts to change”.
Though names, dates, and parties have been changed, it’s that first part that, in my heart of hearts, allows me to forgive SOME of my fellow citizens who voted for him the first time. What I can’t forgive is not realizing, that with the integrity missing from the get-go, there was never any hope. For any of us. Instead, we got the other Candidate.
Segue to One Nation Under Trump. Which we, perhaps, should leave on the cutting room floor.
Meanwhile, we’ll throw in a dash of Bridge of Spies “During the Cold War, an American lawyer is recruited to defend an arrested Soviet spy in court…
And a smidge of The Ugly American and Fair Game for some spice “Max Kirkpatrick is a cop who protects Kate McQuean, a civil law attorney, from a renegade KGB team out to terminate her.” Hmmmm.
The American President “A widowed U.S. President running for reelection and an environmental lobbyist fall in love. It’s all above-board, but “politics is perception,” and sparks fly anyway.” I don’t know. Nate’s gonna have to explain this one!
For every action, we find our equal and opposite reaction in Knock Down the House “A look at the people involved with various political campaigns during the 2018 U.S. congressional election…that tipped the balance of power ”
Things get tougher, dramatically. See: American Factory ”In post-industrial Ohio, a Chinese billionaire opens a new factory in the husk of an abandoned General Motors plant, hiring two thousand blue-collar Americans. Early days of hope and optimism give way to setbacks as high-tech China clashes with working-class America.” I mean.
Enter the slew of potential solutions: Iron Lady, beautifully played by Ms. Streep (Warren, anyone?)
And finally here, folks, is where it gets tricky. What comes next?
Do we get a redemptive arc a lá Path to War? A path to a more equal world, somewhat, akin to 1776 or LBJ?: “Lyndon B. Johnson aligns himself with John F. Kennedy, rises to the Presidency, and deals with the civil rights struggles of the 1960s.” A graceful admission of defeat and a reset?: Also LBJ
Or do we grant ourselves that earlier charming widower who understands both the politics (business) and the heart (civics) of the presidency?
It’s unwritten, but it’s up to us. The characters, the setting, the plot, the conflict, and the resolution. It’s up to us. We have the foreshadowing and fables. We have the analytics. We have the power. And now, it’s.up.to.us to write the ending.
My fellow Americans, what will it be?