The sordid tale of the Trump golf course

0 Posted by - May 5, 2011 - Blog, Reviews, Screen

Donald Trump is a profound source of inspiration to so many all over the world. He inspires in us a sense of right and wrong, a sense of justice, and of course a sense of success. As a megalomaniac bully with too much money and nary the wit to match, The Donald embodies the role of evil dictator and dim-witted jester simultaneously.

His recent media circus stunts proclaiming president Obama to be a fraud have made him, rightfully, the laughing stock of American liberal media and the internet, which has inspired in so many joy and laughter at his expense (character that is, not pecuniary expense). But laughing at Obama poking fun of one of the world’s richest individuals doesn’t get at those other qualities mentioned above, like right and wrong and justice. Thankfully, a new documentary by Anthony Baxter called You’ve Been Trumped and playing at this year’s Hot Docs, provides just the platform needed.

Crowd-funded You’ve Been Trumped focuses in on the controversy over a gigantic, hideous and unsustainable golf course Trump plans to build in a scientifically unique and picturesque part of Scotland. Trump, being the self-serving chap that he is, spends much of his life stepping on people, democracy and the environment in order to carve out special spaces for the elite to play. His golf course in the Aberdeen region of Scotland is intended to be such a place – a sprawling complex of hotels, luxury condos and golf course amenities. Trump not-so-subtly declares that the course—which is geared toward ultra-wealthy Americans who can zip across the Atlantic for 18 holes—will be the “greatest in the world” and sets about buying officials and bullying locals.

The locals, unsurprisingly, aren’t as delighted as Scottish government officials who only see dollar signs, not eco-destruction. No worries though, the Donald sets about belittling the protesting locals on his own television shows and in the media – letting the world know they “live like pigs” and that their homes are “disgusting eyesores that no one should have to look at.” For those that do not succumb to the combined pressure from the Donald, the bought politicians and the abhorrently pro-establishment press, well let’s just say his land “development” team has a special way with bulldozers.

If ever there was a film that presents an indirect argument for direct action, this is it. While the fight the locals undertake and the growing solidarity from non-locals is commendable and encouraging, one can’t help feel that some well-timed and placed monkey-wrenching would be much more effective – especially given how grossly uneven the sides are in this battle.

You’ve Been Trumped is a solid first film that constructs a dramatic narrative that intrigues and charms. The opening sequence is a little out of place, the editing is a little choppy, and there are some cliché-ridden moments of heavy-handed music-inspired sentimentality (but the soundtrack is excellent – from Jonsi and Sigur Ros), but these are too minor to fault the overall work. As a whole it is an excellently shot and stitched documentary that gives Donald Trump his own rope to hang himself with as well as an important testament to the determination of outgunned civilians fighting oppression and corruption.

Lastly and most importantly, this film is an intriguing essay on the ways in which capitalism functions. It deftly shows how the elite class leverage their resources to influence governments already softened by the deceptive promise of neoliberal economics, as the corporate media ensure the public remain ill-informed and/or sympathetic to those with the most power and the least to lose.

A fine entry into social justice documentary, You’ve Been Trumped will be enjoyed by activists, historians and yes, everyone in between. Hopefully it will inspire more tactics and strategies against the oppressive projects of the global capitalist system.

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