Blade Runner, 1982. The original version with Harrison Ford was set in 2019, just next year! At the time, it seemed visionary, edgy, and the theme, of course, was and is still current: the domination of corporations over every facet of our lives. Thank you, Philip K. Dick, who wrote the book on which the movie was based: Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?
Blade Runner 2049, the sequel, was too long and meandering. The optics were vastly improved, the idea was still intact, but the message, I think, was lost.
So let’s take USA, summer 2018, and call it Blade Runner: Now. Even though we aren’t chasing replicants, we’re pursuing answers about whether the trump campaign was colluding with foreign governments to win the 2016 election and obstructing justice. If Philip K. Dick were still alive, he probably would be writing for The Atlantic or The New York Times and trump would take to Twitter to try to discredit and humiliate him. But his attempts would backfire, this reporting would win Pulitzers, the movie would be watched by hundreds of millions. Philip would keep writing and exploring the secrets of the most corrupt administration in history.
From Salon: “Donald Trump’s White House is on pace to becoming the most corrupt and scandal-ridden administration since at least Richard Nixon’s — and perhaps in the entire history of the country. Rather than “draining the swamp,” Trump has ushered in a new age of corruption in Washington that reminds one of the brazen and widespread corruption of the gilded age.”
At some point about a year into trump’s presidency, the press attitude toward him shifted from Oh, what a silly buffoon to He’s a threat to democracy. He’s the guy whose morning tweets set the scandal and big distraction for the day – how it’s all a witch hunt, fake news, a disgrace, there was an FBI spy in the campaign…and on and on. And it’s not just the press who are finally calling out trump for the despot he is. James Comey does it in his book A Higher Loyalty. James Clapper, former Director of National Intelligence and of the Defense Intelligence Agency, a career intelligence officer, also defines trump in the same way in his book, Facts and Fears: Hard Truths from a Life in Intelligence.
When Clapper was on Rachel Maddow’s show, he talked openly about how the Russians influenced the election for a trump win and wrote about it in his book. “Surprising even themselves, they (the Russians) swung the election to a Trump win. To conclude otherwise stretches logic, common sense, and credulity to the breaking point. Less than eighty thousand votes in three key states swung the election. I have no doubt that more votes than that were influenced by this massive effort by the Russians.”
As a country, we’re headed into perilous territory, where this experiment called democracy is being tested at every twist and turn. Every day, someone on trump’s team is spinning, redefining laws and protcols. Rudy Gulliani, the newest addition to trump’s legal team, claims a sitting president can’t be indicted. Really? That would mean that if a sitting president committed murder, he would get a pass? That’s not democracy; it’s the world of dictators and authoritarian governments.
Every day, trump’s press secretary, Sarah Huckabee Sanders, daughter of self-righteous religious nut Mike Huckabee, stands before the White House press corp and TV cameras and lies through her pretty white teeth. Every day, the republican congress sits on their collective hands and turns their collective head away from facts and truth and do nothing to stop this slow erosion of the very institutions that exposed Richard Nixon and Watergate. Pundits talk about the infamous Saturday Night Massacre during the Nixon administration and how we’re approaching a constitutional crisis now.
But the truth is uglier: I think we’re already at that crisis point. As the protagonist of the Handmaid’s Tale remarks, “How did we get here?”
We got here because most of us have never lived under an authoritarian government. We’ve enjoyed the 1st amendment, the freedom to speak our minds. We’ve lived freely with the bill of rights. The 4 in 10 Americans who still support trump don’t care about shady and possibly illegal payoffs to porn stars or how he and his admin may have colluded with a foreign government or obstructed justice. They don’t understand how his policies hurt them in terms of health care, tax cuts, trade, wages, employee rights. They don’t understand because they don’t pay attention.
Instead, they blame Obama, Clinton, the “liberal agenda.”
But trump is the ultimate trickster and unless something shifts dramatically – and soon – then the joke is on us. We become a third world, autocratic country ruled by a cruel clown who bows to dictators like Putin and empowers corporations just as Philip K. Dick envisioned in the original Blade Runner.
But now I wonder if even Dick could have imagined Blade Runner: Now, starring the likes of trump and his gang.