Our political history reflected on the big screen
By Jerrison Oracion, Senior Columnist
Several films were released under Trump’s presidency, and all are part of what is called “Trump Cinema.”
In the first four years of the Donald Trump presidency, the businessman would improve the US economy and reduce unemployment in the country. At the same time, he would divide the country, cause controversy through his tweets on Twitter, not get along with some world leaders, and go hard at the people that do not agree with his policies. Several films were released under Trump’s presidency, and all are part of what is called “Trump Cinema.” This includes Coco, The Farewell, Jojo Rabbit, the Academy Award winning Parasite, and even The Avengers: Endgame.
There were a few unexpected films that were released this year during this election year though they are now available through streaming services. One of these surprises is the film version of the Talking Heads musical American Utopia which I reviewed last week. Half of it involved David Byrne talking about why voting in an election is important and encouraged the audience to increase the voter turnout in this year’s election. Because Spike Lee directed it, there were some powerful moments—especially on the issue of African Americans. An example would be when the entire cast sang the Janelle Monáe song, “Hell You Talmbout,” where they say the names of African Americans that were shot and cuts to a relative of the victim holding a picture of him or her. The song “Everybody’s Coming to My House” talks about the immigration situation and how new immigrants would not want to leave their new home.
Another musical that had a film version made recently is also likely the greatest musical of all time and is very relevant today: Hamilton. The movie was filmed a month after the musical version got Best Musical at the Tony Awards in June 2016—five months before Donald Trump surprisingly won the election that year. The songs in the musical are great and it has a similar structure to Lin-Manuel Miranda’s previous production In the Heights; the production shows that Alexander Hamilton is the father of the United States because he wrote most of the US Constitution. However, it also explains that government in the 1790s was just as bad as government today… except they had procedures that were barbaric (like shootouts).
Even Hamilton threw his reputation to the ground when he slept with another married woman and it is related to accusations that were made during the election. The man who shot him, Aaron Burr, wanted to be in the room where it happened where he would later find out about the affair. An interesting fact is that Hamilton’s wife, Eliza, opened the first orphanage in New York City.
Just before the election happened, Sacha Baron Cohen’s Kazakhstan reporter Borat Sagdiyev makes a surprise return in Borat: Subsequent Moviefilm which is only available on Amazon Prime Video. This time, Borat is on a mission to deliver Johnny the Monkey to Vice President Mike Pence until he finds out that his daughter, Tutar, is going along for the ride. It tackles issues like propaganda (similar to fake news), and feminism—especially through the relationship between Borat and Tutar.
There was also a reference to the Justin Trudeau blackface controversy and a lot of vulgar jokes like in the previous film. If Donald Trump is not the President of the United States, there will still always be a period in cinema that explores and reflects his historic presidency.