© Josh Sager – August 2016
Sometimes, real life politics becomes so surreal and unusual that it begins to resemble the hyperbole and parody of fiction. Donald Trump’s domination of the GOP primary is such an example of politics imitating art…specifically, it is emulating Mel Brooks’s 1968 comedy, The Producers.
The Producers follows two unscrupulous theater producers who work out a scam to embezzle large amounts of investor money by creating a musical that bombs in the box office so badly that nobody even comes looking for their investment. They find a neo-Nazi who has written a play that lionizes Hitler and the Nazi regime (titled “Springtime for Hitler: A Gay Romp with Adolf and Eva at Berchtesgaden”), while intentionally offending basically everybody with a normal sense of decency. Unfortunately for them, the actors who they cast to act in this play are so awful that the entire audience thinks that the play is satire making fun of the Nazis, leading it to be a box office hit. This leaves them holding the wrong end of a scam, with investors who they will never be able to pay back and they end up under investigation for fraud. Long story short, the entire scam collapses and the producers end up in jail.
Donald Trump’s campaign is a disturbingly accurate real-life analog for the plot of The Producers.
A number of Trump advisors have revealed that he originally entered the race thinking that he didn’t have a chance and that he was simply aiming to promote his name a little bit before dropping out—he was hoping to parlay his failed campaign into even greater personal profits and advertising opportunities in much the same way that the producers wanted to capitalize on their failed play.
Like in The Producers, Trump’s attempts at making a failed presidential run were unsuccessful in that they worked too well. He started to climb in the polls and no matter what he said—calling Mexicans rapists, insulting the disabled, mocking POWs, openly calling for anti-Muslim bigotry, etc.—his support refused to waiver within the right wing. In effect, Trump’s campaign has been exactly like “Springtime for Hitler” from the movie, only his supporters don’t think that the racism and offensive rhetoric is a joke.
Sadly, this divergence from the movie is very disturbing. Unlike in The Producers, where the audience are decent people who think that Hitler is being mocked, the crowds at Trump rallies are real extremists who are simply gravitating towards what they see as the political candidate who says what they are usually too afraid to.
Ironically, Trump’s candidacy may very well end in the same way that The Producers did—with Trump’s scam exposed, his name ruined, and under threat of legal trouble. His breakout success in the GOP primary has put a spotlight on his xenophobia and past scams (e.g. his “university”) and absolutely destroyed his name among decent human being across the world. In his pursuit of attention and advertising opportunities, he has rendered himself absolutely toxic across the planet and revealed his idiocy for all to see. If his presidential candidacy had failed in the first few months of the contest, he could have easily saved face and his brand almost certainly would have avoided the fallout that it currently is facing.