‘You’ve Been Trumped’: Stop the bullying

August 3, 2012


America’s love affair with the stars of big business should have come to an end with the greed-driven crash of our financial system in 2008. Yet, somehow, Donald Trump remains not just a celebrity but one who was actually considered seriously as a presidential candidate – for about a minute.

Mostly, his candidacy seemed to be about promoting the latest round of “Celebrity Apprentice,” a show whose willingness to indulge Trump’s colossal ego (and ridiculous hair) continues to astound (even more than the shameless spotlight-seeking of third-rate has-been stars).

But the star of the show is still Trump. Why this gigantic turd with legs remains the object of fascination to so many speaks unfortunate volumes about the plummeting IQ of the mass audience.

If you didn’t think Trump was a loudmouth bully before seeing the new documentary “You’ve Been Trumped,” you can’t help but come away from this film with that impression. As he runs roughshod over a pristine bit of Scottish environment in pursuit of putting his name on yet another piece of the planet, you’ll find yourself wishing for nothing so much as the chance to be in his proximity with a rotten tomato or, perhaps, a large whipped-cream pie.

“You’ve Been Trumped” isn’t particularly revelatory, nor is it an outstanding piece of film-making. Director Anthony Baxter does what he can with what he’s got, but he only has so much to work with. Still, it’s enough to lead you to the undeniable conclusion that Donald Trump is all hat and no saddle cattle, a rich guy who can buy influence and bullyboy security, while trampling the lives of anyone who gets in his way. He’s like old Mr. Potter of “It’s a Wonderful Life,” minus the comeuppance.

In this case, it’s the people of tiny Aberdeenshire, a small town near Aberdeen, Scotland, who suffer Trump’s ego. The location of the British Isles’ only natural formation of sand dunes (designated as a site of special scientific interest by the Scottish government), the land is purchased by Trump who, while shouting his commitment to environmental concerns, announces his plan to bulldoze the dunes to make way for not one but two golf courses, as well as a huge resort development.

The town council rejects his plan, only to have the Scottish government overrule them. Then Trump sets out to get the government to invoke its version of eminent domain, to rid him of the nuisance of locals who own long-held family farms in the area where the resort will go. When it won’t, he goes to the press, tarring the farms as “slums” and “disgusting pigsties,” then pouts and says he won’t build the resort if he can’t get his way.

But he still goes ahead with the first golf course, trampling the land rights of the property owners adjacent to his construction, even as he bulldozes the dunes. Despite grassroots protests, nothing seems able to stop the voracious Trumpster, who has the media in his pocket all the way.

Baxter films what he can of Trump’s local appearances, but is stonewalled by Trump’s people, once the protests start. He’s even arrested at one point, on a trumped-up charge of trespassing. His film consists of the facts he’s able to gather and the opinion of, unfortunately, tangential experts who, in their diffident Scottish way, allow that, yes, this fellow Trump doesn’t seem to be telling the truth about the amount of business the golf courses will generate for Scotland or the number of jobs it will bring to the area.

That’s the film’s weakness – that no one of any real weight is there to speak up on behalf of the small group of farmers, students and environmentalists who steadfastly protest each of Trump’s moves. You get the impression that the Trump minions and local authorities figure, hey, let them protest – then we’ll ignore them and get back to work.

There’s plenty of footage of Trump being Trump on American TV and in the Scottish media, which generally bends over for his blather. Baxter is the only one rude enough to ask Trump a probing question at a press conference, when he’s given an honorary degree by an Aberdeen College. Trump treats him dismissively, as though only an idiot would question his intentions. Or, in this case, someone with the guts to confront a blowhard bully.

Which, of course, is the same way Mitt Romney treats those requests for his tax returns or other information about his finances. Like all plutocrats, Trump seems to believe that his wealth makes him a superior human specimen, someone who stands above the rules of common society. “You’ve Been Trumped” provides ample proof of just what a colossal jerk he is – as though that were ever in question.

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