Perhaps it could be applied to striking a nuclear disarmament accord with a dictator? Again, ONLY TIME WILL TELL – but it seems like the leader of the free world thought it was worth a try. At the historic summit between Donald Trump and Kim Jong-un in Singapore, June 12th, Destiny Pictures (not, of course, Destiny Pictures – keep up, it’s a metaphor) presented A Story of Opportunity: one of the weirdest things to ever happen, ever. After all, it is not only like a movie trailer. It is a movie trailer, complete with references to a ‘sequel’ and billing its stars as President Trump and Chairman Kim Jong-un “in a meeting to remake history. To shine in the sun. One moment, one choice, what if? [sic] The future remains to be written.” For a president who already exists in a strange circular space of generating press coverage by watching it on Fox News, the format must have been a natural choice. In an era of wobbly facts and bald propaganda from the leader of the free world, perhaps making a film about something is as good as making it happen; the on-again, off-again scandals which preceded the summit were straight out of a TV producer’s handbook for amping up Just the Right Amount of tension.
If you want something to happen, make a trailer for it. A marriage proposal: “Two people. One weekend. Will she ask the question everyone’s waiting for? Starring [you] and [them] in a story of love, commitment – and one very special picnic.” How about a promotion? Basso profundo: “[You were] just an ordinary guy, working in a coffee shop. This summer, all that could change. The last manager left – and someone needs to step up. Will the owner choose right? Only time will tell.” Of course, the voiceover would have to accompany the right kind of footage: grainy images of you, maybe holding a broom as you look into the middle distance to the left of camera, tired after a long shift and dreaming of… more? Cut to coffee machine, smiling customers, perhaps a fast-forwarded clock to show the passing of time, implying both the hours put in and a future hurtling nearer. See, this is easy!
President Trump and Chairman Kim Jong-un “in a meeting to remake history. To shine in the sun. One moment, one choice, what if? [sic] The future remains to be written.”
Kim Jong-un, through his translator Jung Pak, said on meeting the president: “Many people will think of this as a scene from fantasy, from a science fiction movie”. Kim is the son of an actress and a father obsessed with cinema, Trump an ex- (or, arguably, current) reality TV star. Each wanted to act out Going to a Summit more than they wanted to go to a summit; in fact, there was probably more to be gained, mutually, by acting than enacting. Trump’s trailer for peace emerges from a scenario where rhetoric and spectacle mean more than action. It’s a bit like Wrestle Mania: choreographing smack downs, feuds and reconciliations for a public which sees the puppet master and doesn’t mind.
Each wanted to act out Going to a Summit more than they wanted to go to a summit; in fact, there was probably more to be gained, mutually, by acting than enacting.
It’s easy to make fun of A Story Of Opportunity. It’s hilarious. Clips literally include horses slo-mo galloping through water, someone slam-dunking a basketball, and footage of Machu Pichu(?). Trouble is, the best satire in the world couldn’t have done a better job – and so the conversation ends as soon as it begins. It’s badly edited, the voiceover is repetitive and vague, the motifs so cliched that they’d look too on-the-nose if SNL had drawn them together instead of the White House. Parodies have already flooded the internet, but none of them come close to the bemusing reality of the original.
Commentators have written since this administration’s inception that satire has been rendered limp and impossible by a state of affairs governed by the presenter of The Apprentice. While the president is an idiot, it can’t be said that he’s universally surrounded by other idiots, however venomous and conniving those advisors might be. Images of Speedy Trains and Little Girls in Fields are surely corny, but they cut across barriers of generation, language, culture and agenda to the broadest possible appeal: happiness and success. Go BIG, not subtle; as in Russia’s Strong Man images of shirtless Putin and North Korea’s own state-controlled media representations of their ruling family as gods, these heavy-handed tropes are not new. After last week’s G7 summit became G6+1, Trump looks to be moving America into isolation as he ostensibly urges Kim to free his country from the same. First comes the propaganda…
After last week’s G7 summit became G6+1, Trump looks to be moving America into isolation as he ostensibly urges Kim to free his country from the same. First comes the propaganda…
For all Trump’s bombast, there’s something pathetically reminiscent of magical thinking about A Story of Opportunity. Cross fingers, and largely will something into being by hurtling down the path which would open, should all go to plan. If it doesn’t, you can always fix that in the edit.
By Emily Watkins.