Tuesday, August 25, 2020

Movie with Abe: #Unfit: The Psychology of Donald Trump

#Unfit: The Psychology of Donald Trump
Directed by Dan Partland
Released August 28, 2020 (Virtual Cinema)

Every politician has detractors, and some have more than others. Policies are critiqued and past actions are examined in painstaking detail by opponents to make the case for why someone shouldn’t be elected or reelected to a particular office. A public figure with a history of making inflammatory or controversial statements has understandably put more out into the world that can be dissected, and society has unfortunately evolved past a point where saying even just a few problematic things can end a career, due in part to a larger failure of those with the potential to effect change to speak up and push back against what they see and hear.

Since he announced his candidacy and was elected in 2016, Donald Trump has transformed the American presidency, lashing out at critics on Twitter and giving anyone he doesn’t like derogatory nicknames. He takes every opportunity to divide the American people rather than finding ways to unify them, something that the Duty to Warn Coalition, a group led by mental health professionals, believes is just one reason that he is psychologically unfit to serve. An array of experts and high-profile figures who have interacted closely with Trump break down the many behaviors he exhibits that they see as proof that he is a malignant narcissist with an incredibly concerning amount of unchecked power.

This film isn’t merely a hit job on a man who will surely decry and dismiss it as such. The doctors interviewed discuss the Goldwater rule, established after a series of attacks on a 1964 presidential candidate, and how its passage has been used to ensure that mental health professionals cannot make diagnoses without actually seeing and evaluating a patient in person. They argue that someone can lie when asked directly, and observing their behavior, particularly as it’s so widely documented and recorded, is infinitely more informative and critical.

It can be argued that there are those with an axe to grind against Trump who eagerly participated in this film, but it’s precisely the discord between the range of subjects interviewed that makes its analysis so effective. George Conway, husband to one of Trump’s top advisors who has made no secret of his disdain for the president, is the first person to speak, detailing what he initially thought of Trump and how he no longer identifies as a Republican. Anthony Scaramucci, whose tenure as communicators director lasted a whopping eleven days, explains how Trump sees the world and emphasizes that he doesn’t think he is a racist. Conflicting points of view about what Trump truly believes and what he adopts to further his agendas enhance the depth and value of this documentary, which always takes care to back up claims – like comparisons to authoritarian leaders – with video clips of something Trump actually did or said and pointed analysis by experts with substantial qualifications.

It’s certainly difficult, and likely impossible, to separate preexisting personal perspectives from a film like this. For this unabashedly liberal reviewer, this film appeals because it serves, in part, as confirmation bias. Yet it’s equally hard to imagine that, if those who would never even consider watching a film titled “Unfit” with Trump’s name in it actually sat through the thorough eighty-three minutes of carefully-prepared arguments and evidence, they wouldn’t come out of the experience at least minimally convinced that, politics aside, having a man like Trump in the Oval Office is a serious concern. If that can’t be accomplished, this film at least serves as a fully engaging, entertainingly-assembled thesis that always stops short of overreaching or making grand statements with nothing to support them. Its primary interviewees have pledged not to stay silent, and for those willing to hear it, this documentary is both alarming and essential.


No comments: