trump presidency in 15 Blake Snyder Movie Beats

In Blake Snyder’s wonderful book on screenwriting, Save the Cat, there’s a break into act 2 that he describes as entering “the upside down world,” the antithesis of act 1. And since our lives, globally and personally, are stories, trump has brought us into that upside world, where the old world falls away.

None of the usual norms apply. Our president is a racist, misogynistic, homophobic idiot who breaks laws, protocol, alienates allies, doesn’t read or listen, and whose entire life seems to be about – well, himself and his adoration of autocrats. Act 2 challenges the hero (US, the people) to fix the problem.

At first, we go about it the wrong way. Snyder calls this the “fun and games section,” 30-55 minutes into a movie, TV show, script, the heart of the movie, the story. ” This section ideally answers the question: Why did I come to this movie?”

For the first years of his presidency, the media hoped trump would act more presidential, that he would shock everyone by becoming The President. They went soft on him, reporting on his antics like it was business as usual. Then we hit a lot of moments that led up to the midpoint of the trump movie. In Die Hard, it’s where Bruce Willis outwits the terrorist. In Bruce Almighty, it’s where Jim Carey gets to act like God. In the trump story it’s where he fired FBI director Jim Comey and the Mueller investigation was launched.

I would like to believe we have transitioned into Act 3, where the hero figures out the solution, the bad guys are done away with, and all the loose ends are tied up. But I think we’re still in the section of the story that Snyder calls All Is Lost. It occurs about 75 minutes into a movie – the rock bottom. In 1984, it’s where the totalitarian government arrests the hero. In The DaVinci Code, it’s where the hero is betrayed by someone he/she trusts. In our universe, it should be the point where trump supporters realize they’ve been conned.

Instead, we have the prez dude doing photo ops with an infant orphaned in the El Paso shootings because none of the survivors wanted to appear with him. Instead, we have a prez expressing an interest in buying Greenland, in weakening the endangered species list, in suing the supreme court to allow discrimination against transgenders. In our collective story we seem to be locked into the ALL IS LOST point.  It’s extending well beyond the 75 minutes of the movie.

Or maybe this is the dark night of the soul beat that happens between 75-85 minutes into a film. In a movie, Snyder says, it can last five seconds or five minutes. In real life, it may seem like forever. As Snyder puts it, it’s the “Oh Lord, why hast thou forsaken me? beat. It’s primal. We’ve all been there…And thank God, because by page 85, when the hero finally figures it out, we get to see him realize “the world of synthesis is at hand.”

And this is the break into Act 3.

We’re definitely not there yet with this trump story. Maybe we’ve made it to page 75, one minute past the All Is Lost beat, where the media  actively calls trump out on his lies, where some people are waking up to what is happening to democracy. I just hope our cut to Act 3 happens before the 2020  election.  That cut to the third act is supposed to be, according to Snyder:  “…the turning over of the old world and a creation of the new world order…” If he is re-elected, there may not be any Act 3 for the heroes.

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8 Responses to trump presidency in 15 Blake Snyder Movie Beats

  1. Laurence Zankowski says:

    Trish,
    Rob,

    Somewhat off target, but in the realm of your work life

    https://www.oregonlive.com/pacific-northwest-news/2019/08/mysterious-oregon-cattle-killings-mutilations-alarm-ranchers.html

    https://storyai.botsociety.io/

    It’s getting to be freaky again, btw, my belief is the mutilations are gov. We have a spike in radiation in rocky flats, and the nuclear disaster in Russia. Yes it is a nuclear disaster, no matter what the Russians say.

    Be well
    Laurence

    • Trish and Rob says:

      Thanks for the link! Things are already freaky. Yes, definitely a nuclear disaster.

      • Laurence Zankowski says:

        Make sure you look at the second link… forty words and the bot creates a story…

        Seriously, why write when AI can do it for you…

        As for poetry, that still takes a beating heart

  2. Nancy says:

    I am so worn out by this man. I simply cannot imagine a world where he has a second term. We simply will not survive it as a Republic.

  3. Sheila Joshi says:

    Very nice. I like learning this plotting stuff.

    If I’m understanding right, it seems to me like the “break into Act 3” of The Wizard of Oz movie doesn’t occur until just minutes from the end, when the wizard redeems himself by showing 3 of the 4 friends that they already have that which they seek, and then Glinda tells Dorothy that she had the power to go home all along (the ruby slippers).

    Almost the entire movie is “Act 2” in this model. A quest story. Maybe that’s the nature of quest stories — a very, very long Act 2. And maybe that’s what we Americans are living through. And I do believe that the answer to our troubles lies in discovering some sort of power each of us already possesses.

    • Trish and Rob says:

      I think you’re probably right. Act 2 is the longest part of any movie. It’s been so long since I’ve seen Wizard, I’ll have to go back and check. I love your take. To me, it really does seem to be all about the power of consciousness, both personal and collective.