Storytelling in a Post-Truth World

Recently Eric Trump extolled words of Marcus Aurelius in the film ‘The Gladiator’ (sic). He appeared to be unaware of the existence of Aurelius in the early ADs and basically thought the depiction in Gladiator (he couldn’t even get the name of the film right) was pure fiction and not based on a figure on history.  His moronic ignorance though, sums up the world we live in where fiction and fact have merged into a ball of insipid mess. 

It’s almost a caricature of satire where satirists are not needing to make any effort to write their material because the current political stage is more absurd than anything they could write. In fact, writing some of the shite that has been said and done in recent times by the likes of Trump and Johnson would have been deemed far-fetched a decade ago.  

Remember when George W. Bush mispronouncing things was seen as the height of comedy and stupidity for a world leader? 

Remember “Iraqistan”?

Oh. How. We. Laughed. 

Bush’s inability to say the name of a country correctly wouldn’t even be picked up nowadays when we have a current US President who uses Twitter to ‘covfefe’ out of his imbecilic pea brain. Or a British PM who relies on his accent that sounds like he’s sucked off a thousand Etonians to cover up the fact he is thick as shit. 

So we are in a world where we live in absurdity and to tell a story is dangerous because people have forgotten facts and truth and opinion is now truth, so fiction is seen as truth because, well, it’s the creator’s opinion.  

Film, for me, is a place of comfort.  I have watched Casablanca dozens of times because it transports me to a wonderful world of sharp wit, love and what ifs.  I don’t watch Casablanca and think it is a historical account of World War 2. I don’t watch Casablanca for political insight.  I watch it because Bogart is cool as fuck and the script is epic.  Yes, fiction films can and do comment on socio-political issues and question humanity’s actions but they are never  meant to be regarded as factual commentaries on society. They can be viewed as intriguing insights into society but always remembered that story-telling and entertainment will always take precedence.  

Unfortunately we are in a world where to tell a story is subjected to vitriol as it somehow is no longer fiction but a line drawn in whether you are a Brexiteer or a Remainer, a patriot or a traitor.  To be a creative seems to be a declaration of your allegiance to whatever that bullshit allegiance might be.  

I miss the days of sniggering at a dumb President who couldn’t remember a simple saying about being fooled once or twice. 

It feels like to be a story-teller is a loaded enterprise – Marvel and Disney being criticised for pushing a PC, feminist agenda that highlights male oppression; even rumours of Bond being black as somehow proof of white racism in modern society.  Ironically, two recent films about Churchill have been great examples of rose-tinted history as they avoided even questioning his genocidal actions. 

World leaders have become post-truth advocates too – retweeting far right nonsense that has been debunked time after time.  I don’t believe they believe it, but want to muddy the waters so fiction and reality are the insipid ball of slime we can no longer differentiate. 

I find film a refuge and hope people don’t get to a point where they forget the line between fiction and reality as some of my greatest escapes have been when watching a man drink some whisky and say, “Of all the gin joints…” 

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