At the finish of almost each film with a villain, the villain goes all the way down to defeat. That, in fact, is what villains deserve. But as an viewers, what we wish — what we crave — is greater than easy defeat, and even destruction. We need to see the villain get his simply desserts, a style of his personal drugs, a comeuppance. Which means seeing him confront the penalties of the injury he’s prompted and why that injury, in a karma-is-a-bitch manner, is now coming again to hang-out him.
Donald Trump is a person who, in 40 years of public life, has by no means had a comeuppance. As he himself would say, he’s simply gotten larger and larger. Certain, he suffered some severe setbacks, like the bankruptcies (which he later denied) that at sure factors left him begging for international capital when no American financial institution would contact him. However he has all the time discovered a solution to bounce again, by ricocheting off the rubber wall of his personal celeb. Even when his empire wasn’t value that a lot, he was cash — that’s the hall-of-mirrors premise on which his model is predicated. (He acquired well-known for being wealthy, and is wealthy as a result of he’s well-known, in a perpetual cycle of celebrity-lifestyle-whore glory.) When he entered politics, Trump suffered one seeming setback after the subsequent — however every one, like the “Entry Hollywood” tape, had the uncanny impact of setting him ahead. Every time he was presupposed to obtain his comeuppance, he failed upward once more. A few of us feared he was going to fail his manner into changing into president for all times.
However on Saturday morning, when Joe Biden crossed the 270 Electoral School threshold (on high of 75 million votes), Trump lastly acquired handed the defeat he deserved. In real-world political phrases, a person who regarded like a really harmful and unhinged autocrat misplaced his bid for re-election to the presidency, and many people will sleep quite a bit simpler realizing that.
But to place it one other manner: In the showbiz mirage of latest picture politics (hey, it’s America in 2020! If we will’t discuss this by way of leisure, what good are we?), the villain of a unprecedented drama has, in the end, gotten his comeuppance. For the first time ever, Donald Trump has no selection: He’s acquired to stand up in the morning, look in the mirror, and say to himself, “I’m a loser.” That’s the assertion the complete world is now forcing him to say (effectively, okay, not Lindsey Graham or that talking-dead TV quibbler Rick Santorum). And, in fact, it’s the one assertion he can’t permit himself to say, and even assume, as a result of it might make his shaggy orange head explode.
I don’t imply to make mild of Trump’s scary mockery of the election course of. Proper now, he’s doing what he all the time threatened to do: not settle for the outcomes of the election. And to the extent that as president for the subsequent 72 days he nonetheless has the energy to trigger chaos, we must always take that menace severely. But Trump’s disturbing speech from the White Home briefing room late Tuesday evening, by which he declared the outcomes of the election a fraud, and his continued statements on Twitter in that vein (Who wants proof? If I say so it should be true!), more and more have the impact of seeming like a third-act bully meltdown.
Certain, the Trump supporters who imagine in QAnon, or imagine that Hunter Biden’s laptop computer is the coronary heart of darkness, could purchase into the notion that states from Pennsylvania to Arizona had been “stolen” from Trump. However in the mainstream American political institution, and in the area that has all the time mattered most, not less than to Donald Trump (specifically, tv), the powers that be are having none of it. The TV information media, notably the stalwart voices of CNN, used the four-day countdown to Joe Biden’s victory to perform one thing main. In specializing in the meticulous, at occasions tedious drumbeat roll name of incremental vote totals, and what these numbers all imply, they normalized actuality once more.
Trump should attempt to stage some type of legal-electoral “coup,” however to anybody tethered to the actual world, his protests will more and more sound like the face-saving whine of somebody who can’t admit, and even compute, the prospect of his personal defeat. On the deepest degree, “The mail-in votes in Pennsylvania don’t depend!” is a fascist model of “The canine ate my homework!” It’s Trump clinging to the presidency, and trashing the rule of regulation, however principally it’s Trump doing all he can to refuse his comeuppance, to disclaim that he’s now the loser he has spent his complete life working from being.
“Citizen Kane,” a film so timeless it has now acquired Trumpian overtones, options an egomaniacal media tycoon who runs for workplace and will get rejected by the voters. When that occurs, it triggers him in a primal manner, as a result of he thinks it signifies that they don’t love him, and he wanted the individuals’s love so they might substitute the love he by no means acquired as a boy (“Rosebud”). In phrases that Charles Foster Kane would recognize, the 2020 presidential election is Trump having to confront that his daddy didn’t love him.
If the films educate us something, it’s that villains, in the finish, don’t have the choice to refuse their comeuppance. They should face their destiny and eat crow. That’s what occurs in “Again to the Future,” when the glowering bully Biff Tannen will get a style of the ache he prompted. That’s what occurs in “One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest,” when Nurse Ratched’s sadistic piety comes again to hang-out her. And it’s what occurs, most spectacularly, in “The Wizard of Oz,” when the Depraved Witch of the West is destroyed earlier than our eyes in a catharsis of long-finger-nailed rage. “Look what you’ve performed!” she screams. “I’m melting, melting!” After which, with a contact of despair that may nearly be referred to as tragic, she says, “Oh, what a world, what a world”! She’s speaking a few world that has taken away her energy. She then crumples like a melted crayon, a humiliated mass of thwarted ambition.
That’s what simply occurred to Donald Trump. He wasn’t merely defeated, given the boot by the American individuals. He acquired melted down. And that’s why he’ll by no means admit it. He’s holding the total American democratic course of hostage to prop up what’s left of his damaged ego. There’s quite a lot of discuss how regardless that Trump misplaced, “Trumpism” is right here to say. It will likely be standing on the sidelines, ready in the wings, warming up for a comeback. However what does Donald Trump stand for, as a political determine, as soon as you are taking away his energy? He’ll be simply one other fulminating talk-radio host. And, in fact, the cornerstone of his model will now develop into the very notion that the presidency was stolen from him. He’ll make that the centerpiece of each rally, each Fox Information look, each talk-radio hour he presides over. However it’s going to all be Trump spinning his brokenness, licking his wounds. The Trump devoted, the true believers — the cult — will tune in. However I think that for many of America, Trump will merely sound like the sore loser he’s. So let him spin away. It’s time to say goodnight to the dangerous man.