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It’s not your imagination — Donald Trump is neither a whole nor a wholly unique, person. When he’s not paraphrasing and blushingly idolizing known dictators both living and dead, he blunders into the world of unintentional parody to seek out new material.
But a parody of whom? Himself, surely — but also a host of fictional, beastly men who feed on the hope of their staunchest followers, blow stale breath on the embers of old conflicts and treat the world beyond their imagination with contempt.
More than once since stepping into presidential politics in 2016, Donald Trump took on a startling resemblance to one of the most unnecessarily cruel characters in our post-apocalyptic fictions: Immortan Joe from 2015’s Mad Max: Fury Road.
Don’t believe us? Let’s count them off.
“Once more we send off my war rig.”
During his first public address to his followers in Fury Road, Immortan Joe says, “Once more we send off my war rig to bring back gasoline from Gas-town and bullets from the Bullet Farm!”
The degree to which Trump appears to fetishize naked exhibitions of military power is well-known by now. What tends to fly under the radar is that Trump, like Immortan Joe, robs his people blind so he can carry the biggest stick. Trump wants historically unprecedented military spending — in the name of “defense,” he says.
But the truth, like always, is that it’s the Head of State’s cronies at Boeing and Raytheon that stand to benefit from these exciting overseas adventures — just like Immortan Joe’s elite inner circle, who don’t have to mingle with the common rabble nor scrape together a living from whatever’s left after the dust settles on the cycles of war.
“Let me put my face on.”
It’s not all doom and gloom, so let’s have some fun with the president and his obsession with respect — down to the tiniest details of his appearance. His visible tan, his terrible wig and his Big Mac gut speak for themselves. No body shaming is intended here, but the president truly does have very unhealthy lifestyle habits that culminate to form an active threat to his lifespan. But not to worry — when he needs the public to believe he’s of healthy body and mind, he, himself, helps prepare the statements his doctors read.
Immortan Joe’s veneer of stateliness and physical strength are just as fragile. Before each address to his followers, who call themselves “The Wretched,” Immortan Joe’s harem of slaves anoints him with salves and powders, delicately position plastic sheets to keep his frail, blistered body intact, install his breathing apparatus and guide him carefully to his lectern. One doesn’t need to work hard to imagine a small room adjoining Trump’s master suite, full of human hair and tanning creams.
“It Is by my hand you will rise from the ashes of this world.”
The messiah complex is one of the most terrifying phenomenons in the realm of psychology. In 2018, Americans and foreigners alike are living with the consequences of a nation electing a villain who fancies himself the hero of his own story. Shortly after being inaugurated, Trump said this: “January 20th, 2017, will be remembered as the day the people became the rulers of this nation again. The forgotten men and women of our country will be forgotten no longer.”
Great swatches of this country — particularly those living in the Rust Belt — know by now that this was one of the earliest lies of what was then a freshly-minted president. And even today, you’ll hear crowds of folks screaming his name and the name of our country. People with genuine worries and dreams who’ve put their hopes in the hands of a liar with no idea how to go about — and no interest in — actually addressing their grievances.
Said Immortan Joe in “Mad Max,” “[You] will ride with me eternal on the highways of Valhalla. I am your redeemer — it is by my hand you will rise from the ashes of this world.”
“Open up the Water!”
Easily the most memorable moment from “Fury Road” is the one in which Immortan Joe punctuates his public address to open the floodgates and pour out — ever so briefly — a small portion of his stockpiled water. When he shuts it off again, the crowd of Wretched howl in fear and frustration.
Donald Trump, too, has made himself a steward of our planet’s resources, including its water supplies — and like Immortan Joe, he’s the worst possible man for the job. In response to the California droughts, Trump called for the state to “Open up the water” — apparently blissfully ignorant of the already incredibly fraught situation environmentalists and farmers there find themselves in.
Do we prioritize the needs of farmers over the needs of species that are going extinct before our eyes? Do we finally have a public reckoning with the companies, such as thrice-damned Nestlé, whose actions contributed to the draughts in the first place?
Said Immortan Joe after shutting off the flow of water: “Do not, my friends, become addicted to water. It will take hold of you and you will resent its absence.” Like the great Republican trick of convincing us, through sabotage, that we don’t need regulations, nor consumer and environmental protections, nor an equitable distribution of essential resources, nor a functional government at all, they’ve conditioned us not to miss it any of it once it’s gone.