TV Review – You’ve Been Trumped



A Pig-Like Atmosphere

Seasoned US politics watchers like myself know all about Donald Trump. He’s the equivalent of Nick Griffin or Nigel Farage, a far-right ideologue outside of mainstream politics who occasionally turns up in the general conversation having said something so boneheadedly outrageous that everybody can’t help having an opinion about it.

He’s spent most of the last four years banging on about how Barack Obama shouldn’t be president because he wasn’t born in the USA. This borderline-racist codswallop reached its nadir when Trump demanded that Obama release his birth certificate, and declared that he had private eyes working in Hawaii (Obama’s actual birthplace) who were turning up some incriminating stuff.

When Obama, clearly fed up with the likes of Trump, released his birth certificate it didn’t stop Trump one iota, although we’re still waiting for the incriminating stuff to come out of Hawaii. With a week to go until the US presidential election he might be leaving it a bit late. When Trump briefly put forward the idea of running for president himself, even the Tea Party Republicans thought he was too absurd. The only people who thought he should run were US satirists, who saw a potential goldmine of yuks.

So why do people listen to Donald Trump? There are rather a lot of Americans who have views and opinions just as extreme as he, but no-one gets a much notice as he does. The quick answer is that he’s rich. Very rich, and Americans respect people of wealth more than just about any other country in the world.

The problem is, Trump is nowhere near as rich as he’s portrayed. His occupation is Property Developer and, as the 2008 crash proved, no other financial area is as distorted as property. The whole thing is predicated on smoke and mirrors, of projecting wealth and borrowing as much as you can get away with. There’s been plenty of investigations by the sort of private eyes who are not in Hawaii to prove that Trump is nowhere near as wealthy as he says he is. His whole life is a projected falsehood, designed to convince people he can make them money.

You may think Donald Trump hasn’t really impinged over here in Britain, yet he has. As You’ve Been Trumped (BBC2) documented, Trump has been bringing his supreme arrogance and fairy tales to the people of Scotland. In particular the peoples of Aberdeenshire, who once hosted the filming of Local Hero, a film about an American corporation aiming to buy an entire Scottish village in order to turn it into an oil refinery, to the delight of the village who aim to make a packet. Local Hero is invoked throughout You’ve Been Trumped, despite the people in the way of Trump’s development of a ‘high class’ golf course being very much against it.

Molly Forbes, a local resident whose small farm butts against Trump’s development, keeps chickens. When she’s not worrying about foxes, she collects eggs every day. “There’s sometimes two. There’s sometimes one. Sometimes none.” She shrugs about the days she’s eggless as just one of those things.

Here’s how someone like Donald Trump would approach Molly’s business model. On average, she gets one egg a day. That’s a source of revenue. So he would go to a bank and borrow 100 eggs on that one egg a day – saying to the bank I’ve got a steady income so you know I can repay you. Then he would go to a gullible rich person with those 100 eggs and ask for 1,000 eggs to fund a high risk omelette that he says will generate 10,000 eggs, or whichever number he plucks out of the air.

Meanwhile, the bank have taken Trump’s 100 egg debt and hedged it to an insurance firm in order to borrow 100,000 eggs. In turn the insurance firm have put the 100 egg debt together with similar debts and somehow managed to borrow 1,000,000 eggs on the back of it.

Then, one day Molly’s chickens don’t produce any eggs. Molly has prepared for this. She’s got the shrug. Donald Trump and all the masters of the universe haven’t, and suddenly the people they’ve borrowed a huge amount of eggs from want them back. And they don’t have them. In Molly’s world, they would be screwed. In Donald Trump’s world, they conjure up pretend eggs and call it ‘market confidence’. And then they borrow more eggs.

Molly Forbes’ world and Donald Trump’s world don’t usually mix, but Trump has pledged he will build a golf course in Scotland, and because he’s Donald Trump it’s not just any golf course but the biggest in the world. Trump is the sort of person who doesn’t do reasonable. It has to be excessive in every regard. Excessively big, excessively classy, excessively domineering to every other golf course that dares to call itself a golf course.

Scotland already has plenty of golf courses. They invented the fucking game, and golf-mad Americans regularly have golfing holidays there to check out the notorious links courses, which is golf played in the teeth of biting wind off the sea. But Trump wants to essentially re-locate the more sedate US courses to a place vastly unsuited for it. Some Americans playing in Scotland were interviewed. “He’s gaudy… I’m not fond of Donald Trump… I’m not sure it’s gonna be a very successful operation… I’m not sure it’ll fit in with the traditions.”

See, Americans know all about Donald Trump. They know about his gauche lack of taste and propensity to put his name in 20 feet letters on buildings he purportedly ‘owns’. Scottish people were put off too, at first. Aberdeenshire council blocked the project for environmental reasons – not just because it would ruin rather a lot of Scotland’s wild and beautiful coastline, but building something aimed squarely at the US market would burn up a lot of aviation fuel.

However, the SNP leader Alex Salmond, who just happens to be MP for the area, wanted it to go ahead. Seeing as he was unashamedly courting Rupert Murdoch at the height of the hacking affair, Salmond finds it hard to resist the imprecations of money, however illusory. He heard a billion dollars and didn’t question it further. Clearly, he’s not a Manchester United fan.

And we haven’t even got to the meat of the documentary yet. The director, Anthony Baxter, smelled something was afoot so befriended some local residents and recorded their experiences as Salmond got his way and compulsory purchase orders were issued. The locals rebelled. Trump stuck his nose in the air and sent in the trucks, heavily outnumbered by security.

Aside from the aforementioned Molly, who couldn’t be sweeter, there’s also Susan Munro, who may look like a chain-smoking cat lady but knows how land works. She boggles at the sheer amount of sand that’s being moved. “I’ve never seen anything like this, anywhere. The mess he’s making.” Susan is aghast when a prediction that other moving work will cause flooding comes true.

The source of the water soon becomes apparent, as the workers have cut off a spring that supplies water to the locals. They’re in no hurry to restore it. When Anthony goes up to the site to complain on the residents’ behalf, a foreman enquires, “is that an expensive camera?” Anthony is followed to Susan’s place by police and roughly arrested on Susan’s land. Because, according to the powers-that-be, it isn’t her land anymore. She just hasn’t accepted it yet.

But the biggest target of Trump’s ire is a local farmer called Michael Forbes, who has been at the forefront of opposition to the golf course. Trump can barely hold in his contempt. “Mr. Forbes is not respected. He lives in a pig-like atmosphere.” Mr. Forbes looks exactly like what he is: a farmer. However, cutting off his water will probably not improve the atmosphere.

“I voted for the SNP for 35 years,” says Michael, bitterly looking at a road created for security patrols on his land. “Never again.” We see Trump on David Letterman, and the wily chat-show host knows his guest well, actually showing a picture of Michael Forbes because he knows it will annoy him. Trump bristles. “I don’t need it [his farm]. Nothing I need.” Such a shame that he invaded Michael’s land for no reason.

David Letterman is not the only one not liking the way things are going. Lawyers are starting to get involved (“this is unprecedented”) and respected academics are handing in their honorary degrees. A man from the LSE has looked over the figures and concluded, “think of Mr. Trump as a poker player, and he’s bluffing.” There’s going to be a point when the bellicose but wily Alex Salmond, seeking votes for Scottish independence, will realise that handing over parts of his country to blustering liars was perhaps a bad idea.

But will even that stop Donald Trump? Will anything? Certainly not honour or empathy, if his absurd haircut is anything to go by. He’s someone who simply never hears the word ‘no’. Last week, Trump announced that he had something that would blow the US elections apart. Some people speculated about it, although the vast majority thought it would be something utterly irrelevant and dickish. It was: Trump challenged Obama to reveal his college records, in return for which he would donate $5 million to charity.

Americans are fascinated by Trump because he’s a supreme dick. And they listen to him, not because he’s a brilliant businessman or wily operator. It’s because he’s on the telly. He’s the star of the original US production of The Apprentice, telling people they’re fired on a weekly basis. He’s about as respected as Snooki and as grimly fascinating. He’s also a bully.

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About klausjoynson
I'm a writer, editor, musician, DJ and cartoonist. Contact me at: klausjoynson(at)gmail.com or follow me on Twitter: @KlausJoynson

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