The political earthquake caused by Donald Trump is off the Richter scale, a cataclysmic event that has shaken the very core of the Western world, and sent vibrations through the East. Attempting to break down every collapsed skyscraper of broken promises is a difficult challenge, requiring someone capable of delving carefully through the rubble.
The world is reeling. Each day brings a fresh, foreboding news story. But the question is, how did it happen? What is it about the man himself that has appealed to so many? When faced with such a force of nature, it'll take something special to penetrate the rusty, hazardous shield of sensationalist, toxic discourse. But if anyone can achieve that, it's Louis Theroux.
Fortunately, #LouisTheroux is ready for the challenge. In an interview with the Mirror, he revealed that he will attempt to break down the external factors that contributed to Trump's rise from mockable celebrity to political powerhouse in a new three-part series for the #BBC. He said:
"It feels like a whole cultural, almost sea change in how the world is part of the post- Brexit wave of populism. The story seems to change every day with Trump. There’s something new bubbling under. It’s hard to get your head around such a big subject."
What Is Post-Brexit Populism?
Trump is the toupee-covered head of a fire-breathing, contorted and puckered less-than-mythological beast that puts Stranger Things to shame. But within the belly of the beast lies the undigested remains of, as Theroux points out, complex economical and sociological issues — populism being one of them.
Populism is defined as the concern for ordinary people, but in reality, it is far from it. Brexit, as Theroux mentioned, played on a combination fear and disillusionment with the elite in the UK, with Boris "boys club" Johnson and Nigel "meet-me-at-the-pub-for-a-pint-I'm-a-lovely-bloke" Farage helping spearhead a campaign with the same guile and distraction as a pickpocket, furiously pointing at a map of immigration routes while swiping your wallet from your back pocket.
Trump, too, rode the tidal wave of populist discontent, getting millions of working class Americans on board by telling them he'd make America great again and plagiarising Bane's dystopian Dark Knight Rises (2012) speech by promising to give the US back to "the people." It worked. White working class Americans had a huge influence on Trump's election win. Trump's response? Flooding his cabinet with ultra-rich billionaires, with a combined wealth of up to $35 billion — the wealthiest administration in history.
In itself, populism is complex, and can place itself under many motivations across the political spectrum from far-left to far-right. Generally, there are two kinds — inclusive populism, and exclusive populism. The former aims to include stigmatised groups, the latter to shut them out. Have a guess which category Brexit and Trump fall under.
How Theroux Will Explore Trump's Psyche
Away from the grand scheme of all things status quo, though, Theroux will still do what he does best by humanizing Trump's larger-than-life persona. Although, it's safe to say we know where he stands on the man's character. He added:
"The challenge with Trump would be [with] something so abhorrent that walks on two legs and is a human being, you have to explore where his foibles come from."
Theroux has, ironically, built a fearsome reputation by being coy and unassuming. His likeable and non-threatening demeanour, contrasted to his blunt forwardness in questioning, has made him one of the world's most intriguing #documentary makers since rising to fame in the late '90s on the BBC series Weird Weekends, where he tackled subjects ranging from the pornography industry to white supremacy groups.
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When Louis Met... Trump
Despite all of his admirable work, one of Theroux's most defining moments surfaced around his When Louis Met episode focusing on British entertainer, Jimmy Savile. The show was produced in 2000, and contained a segment where Theroux questioned Savile on claims of pedophilia.
Savile was later posthumously exposed as a sadistic serial sexual predator, and Theroux was criticised for not pushing his line of questioning. He later admitted he was "gullible" and in 2016 he produced a further documentary on the subject, Louis Theroux: Savile, where he also put himself under scrutiny.
It's unlikely Theroux will get as much access to Trump as he did with Savile — he admits the two later became friends — but that won't stop him from working tirelessly to go beyond the caricature of Trump, in a manner the subject himself would find difficult to diffuse.
If Theroux was able to ask Trump one question, what should it be?
(Source: The Mirror)