Douglas James Troxell
Donald Trump Ruined My Writing Career
Donald Trump ruined my writing career. That's not just a catchy tagline. That's the honest truth. For all the things people blame Trump for, I may be the only one that blames him for ruining his literary endeavors.
Let me explain.
I am a writer of absurdist fiction. I write ridiculous and silly things for humorous purposes or for social commentary. Kurt Vonnegut was the king of this type of writing. He may be best known for Slaughterhouse-Five, but, to me, Cat's Cradle, an absurdist look at the arms race following World War II, is the best of his work. My favorite novel of all time is Catch-22, the greatest work of absurdist comedy in the history of literature about the most ridiculous event in human history (It's World War II in case you need me to hit you over the head with the answer).
In 2011, I started my own absurdist masterpiece (or at least that's how the world would describe it when it was finished). I've always been a big fan of dystopian literature so I wanted to create an absurdist dystopian novel that used several famous works of dystopian literature (1984, Fahrenheit 451, Brave New World, etc.) to satirize the ridiculousness of the modern world. I wanted one of the main themes to be the integration of politics and entertainment (politainment) and how we, as a society, could no longer tell the difference between the two and why that was so dangerous.
So I came up with this ridiculous scenario where an average nobody travels into the future where America is controlled by an evil tyrant who rose to power as a former reality television star and people let him do whatever the hell he wants because he was famous and celebrities are basically worshiped as gods.
Then Donald Trump was elected in 2016 and made my ridiculous premise a reality.
Take note that this is not a criticism of Donald Trump's presidency. Donald Trump is 100% the president American deserves right now. But the fact that Donald Trump is President of the United States is absolutely, without-a-doubt, totally and absolutely ridiculous. Hell, it was a joke on The Simpsons!
Before being elected to the most powerful office in the world, Donald Trump's only experience in politics was trying to prove Barack Obama was born on Neptune (or something). He was proven wrong and should have been viewed as pathetic and made to apologize but, instead, like most Donald Trump shenanigans, he claimed victory despite failing miserably and actually gained respect from his supporters for yelling ridiculous and borderline racist things louder than anybody else. Trump was barely viewed as a businessman before becoming president. He was the host of mildly popular reality show and had strange hair and a zippy catchphrase, but he was one thing that would prove to be more important than anything else: he was a celebrity.
Perhaps the most ridiculous thing about Trump's presidency is how people don't view it as ridiculous at all. They quietly discuss the pros and cons of the ridiculous things he says and does around the water cooler as if it's perfectly normal to have a president who had an affair with a porn star and a Playboy bunny and defrauded students at a fake college. Educated and intelligent people discuss the economic policies of a man who used a magic marker to adjust the path of a hurricane, who has said multiple times he would have sex with his own daughter if she wasn't related to him, and a man who ran on a super villain platform of building a giant wall around our country that another country was going to pay for. These are silly, silly things.
What chance does an absurdist writer have in a world where the ridiculous is now the law of the land? Where people don't bat an eye at ludicrous statements about supporting women from a man who was caught on camera bragging about sexually assaulting women? Where people say things like, "He says such stupid stuff and I don't think he's a very good person...but I'm probably going to vote for him anyway"? What hope is there for absurdists?
I could have given up on my novel. I could have given up on absurdist literature in general and started writing paint-by-numbers thrillers via James Patterson (my mother would have enjoyed this). But I said NO! I would adapt. I would evolve. I would see you a Donald Trump and raise you a Giuliani! Since the character in my book was basically Donald Trump, I dumped Trump into my novel and doubled down on the absurdist aspects. I allowed Donald Trump to be my baseline for absurdity. Donald Trump would make my writing great again!
I'm proud to say, eight years later, Trumptopia: The United States of Walmart, is the absurdist masterpiece I always envisioned. It is silly and it is ridiculous and America is five steps away from it becoming a reality. Donald Trump ruined my writing career, but he also resurrected it. He forced me to become better. So thanks, Donald J. Trump (We share the same initials!). Keep being your ridiculous, loony self!