Watching the Donald Trump reality tour lead up to the election has brought to mind one of my all-time favorite sci-fi movies. It’s not difficult to see the drama being played out between Trump, the Republican Party, and the American public having a curious similarity to the movie plot.
Here’s a quick synopsis of Forbidden Planet, the classic from 1956: (Opening graphics look familiar?)
In the 23rd century an expedition from earth travels to a distant planet to learn what became of a previous expedition. They find a survivor, a scientist and who tells them about a highly evolved race (the Krell) which once inhabited the planet, but had mysteriously disappeared. They learn of an enormous atomic powered machine built by the Krell and capable of materializing anything imagined. Thus, it is possible to form and project matter with the power of thought.
But there’s a problem (no doubt). While projections could result from thoughts in the conscious mind, the same could be spawned by the unconscious mind. While the Krell built a culture which on the outside appeared orderly and beneficial, inwardly there was a massive amount of pent-up destructive desire which coalesced in the society’s collective unconscious to create an “Id Monster”, an indestructible energy force which inevitably turned on them and ultimately wiped them out.
Using the film as an analogy, the GOP then represents the Krell and Donald Trump is the Id Monster, the manifestation of the Party’s repressed dark side which cannot be contained or controlled. The harder the party has tried to hold it back, the bigger and more powerful it has become, until finally bursting forth with full defiant, unapologetic, narcissism. It first appeared diffusely as the Tea Party, and now in concentrated perfection as a supremely destructive force.
Just as the Id Monster was created from the Krell’s own repressed but powerful desires, Trump is a monster of the Republican Party’s own making, created from the energies of its entrenched destructive impulses, buried beneath the veneer of respectability. Publicly, the party uses words designed to convince Americans it really is about inclusiveness and concern for the wellbeing of all. But a leopard can’t change its spots, and the repressed side of the Republican psyche remains.
Behind closed doors, in the belly of the base, the same old GOP lurks, stubbornly unrepentant, hostile toward those who are different, afraid of change and anything that departs from the “way God intended”. It’s here, where the party’s collective unconscious has coalesced to bring forth its own version of the Id Monster. The Donald has become a force unto himself. He cannot be controlled and all attempts to eliminate him have failed. He has become a poison for which there is no known antidote.
This is reminiscent of another sci-fi classic – Alien. There’s a scene where it’s revealed that Ash, the ship’s science officer, is actually a machine which has been instrumental in bringing a murderous creature on board. Before being terminated by the crew, he informs them that the monster they’re dealing with is hostile in the extreme and also indestructible. His last bone-chilling words are, “You have my sympathy”.
Same goes for America.