Greetings and salutations, Dear Reader. It’s late morning here in Lithia, Florida on Thursday, January 20, 2022. It is a cool – but not freezing – day here in the Sunshine State; currently, the temperature is 70˚F (20˚C) under sunny skies. With the wind blowing from the southeast at 1 MPH (2 KM/H) and humidity at 77%, the wind-chill factor is 65˚F (18˚C). Today’s forecast suggests a warming trend. Skies will be partly sunny, and the high will be 79˚F (26˚C). Tonight, skies will be partly cloudy. The low will be 54˚F (12˚C).
Keeping My Eye on ‘Fiddler’
Last night I received an email from La-La Land Records. It informed me that a La-La Land Records employee had shipped my order of a 3-CD set of the Fiddler on the Roof – 50th Anniversary Remastered Limited Edition soundtrack album that I’d ordered last Saturday. It probably took the folks at the Burbank record label/store – which specializes in movie and TV soundtracks – to process the order because it was Martin Luther King, Jr.’s Birthday on Monday. Here in the U.S., this occasion is a federal holiday, and many people take the day off from work. There is also no mail delivery on federal holidays, and since that company seems to have a small staff, it probably took La-La Land Records some time to process my order.
According to the U.S. Postal Service, my Fiddler on the Roof album is not quite in transit. A shipping label was printed yesterday, yes. And the jewel box multi-disc package has been placed in a mailing envelope with first-class postage. But I suspect that my order is in La-La Land’s mailroom, waiting for a La-La Land staffer to take it to the Burbank USPS Origin facility later today.
If my recent experience with my earlier order of Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan: Original Motion Picture Soundtrack – Remastered Edition is any indication of how long it will take for my 50th Anniversary Fiddler on the Roof order to arrive, I think I will get my package by Wednesday or Thursday of next week. It took Khan six days to complete the 2,552.4-miles-long journey from Burbank to Lithia; barring a Third World War or a natural disaster of catastrophic proportions, I think this shipment will take a similar amount of time to get from there to here.
Trying to Understand the Conservative Mindset – A Fool’s Errand?
If you’re a regular reader of A Certain Point of View, Too, you probably remember that last year I started writing a screenplay for a follow-up to 2020’s Ronnie and the Pursuit of the Elusive Bliss. My original concept was – and it still “kind of, sort of” is – to tell a story with the same cast and characters (plus a few additional ones) that explore how a well-meaning Trump supporter – played by my friend from high school (and a professional actor), Juan Carlos Hernandez – faces reality during the 2020 election and the 1/6 “Stop the Steal” assault on the U.S. Capitol.
When I conceived this project – which has the working title Redemption, but it might get a better title later – I thought, Hey, this is going to be easy. I know the characters. I know the situation. All I need is a good beginning and I’m ready to go.
Ah. No. It has not been easy to write this script. Not at all.
As a screenwriter, I have to know what, exactly, drives a person to become a Trump supporter and see the world through the prism of a conservative mindset. This is especially tough because I tend to see things from a journalist/storyteller’s perspective. That means that not only do I have to know the Who, What, Where, When, Why, and How of current events (first thing that’s pounded into journalism students in Basic Reporting), but as a writer of fiction, I have to understand the emotional needs of a character. (First rule in dramatic storytelling: Your character has a need that drives the story, otherwise there’s no drama.)
Character A is a Trump supporter. In Ronnie, there are many hints as to why my “I-guy” is a Republican who fell down the rabbit hole of Trumpism. He’s a Cuban-American who migrated to New York City from South Florida long ago. His father – who is referred to once (or maybe twice?) in Ronnie – still lives in Miami and was probably a Bay of Pigs veteran or was friends with some of the Brigada de Asalto 2506 members when he was younger. Clearly, the guy is a die-hard Republican, but as depicted in the short we did a couple of years ago, he’s not as crazy as many of the Trump cult -and trust me, it is a cult – appear to be.
Well, because I don’t want to turn Juan’s character into a cliched clown who just spouts MAGA slogans and says he hates liberals, as a writer I have to at least understand where Trump supporters stand on things and – more important – why.
Hence, I have bought a handful of books about Donald J. Trump’s failed Presidency, as well as two satirical books MacTrump and The Last Trump Shall Sound. The journalistic books I bought for historical context, and the two satires I got for artistic inspiration.
I’m hoping that soon – and I do mean soon – I will be able to jump-start my scriptwriting. But first, I have to figure out how my characters got their hearts and minds where they are, and how I can get Juan’s character to “open his eyes” about how Trumpism is really fascism wrapped up In American red-white-and-blue bunting.
I mean, why do Trump supporters still hold on to the notion that the 2020 elections were rigged unfairly against their preferred candidate?
More prosaically, why are conservatives so willing to do anything, including lie blatantly about any topic under the sun – including Trump’s record as President, the casualty count in Afghanistan, the myth that whites are being denied care for COVID-19, and the even more pernicious lie that election fraud occurs with more frequency than it actually does, and that Democrats are Communists who want to destroy America?
I mean, seriously. When I was – briefly – a conservative in the early to late 1980s, I heard the usual extremist tropes that people on welfare are lazy and don’t want to work, that we could have won the war in Vietnam if the “leftist” media had not turned public opinion against the troops in Southeast Asia, and that blacks, Latinos, and poor whites should switch parties to the Republicans because the GOP stood for American values and economic freedom.
Such tropes offended me – they still do, in fact – and slowly but surely, as I learned more about U.S. history and politics, I came to understand that conservatism talks a good game about being all about “freedom” and “personal liberties,” but is in reality all about (A) keeping political and economic power in the hands of a few powerful (and mostly white and Protestant) minority, (B) inciting class, regional, and racial divides to weaken their political rivals, and (c) appeal to such base instincts as fear, hate, and anger.
As a writer, I have to delve deeply into things that the non-creative aspects of my personality do not like. And understanding American conservatism, in the time of Donald Trump and “Trumpism,” is one definitely unpleasant – if perhaps necessary – part of my job as a writer.
Well, I’ve prattled on and on, so I better close this post and publish it. Until next time, Dear Reader, stay safe, stay healthy, and I’ll catch you on the sunny side of things.
 Here is a typical statement from a Trump-supporting “Stop the Steal” activist, Leah Hoopes, who (not surprisingly) is one of the people profiled in Mark Bowden and Matthew Teague’s The Steal. On her public page on Facebook, Hoopes wrote: We can no longer afford the silence. Conservatives who decide to remain polite, quiet, reserved and on the sidelines you are enabling the Marxist movement to take over.
You must step outside the diplomatic World and into the arena where lions fight. You must be a Gladiator with your sword and shield and defend the Constitution and America. There is no place to hide, no place to run to, we are the last defense of the free World! Get in the arena and put on the armor of God!