Okay, it’s now months since I’ve done this. Months and practically a whole season since I last contemplated how one would write about Donald Trump in a horror story.
Part of the delay was me being appalled by all that’s been happening, and part of it – I confess – was embarrassment.
Since I last wrote, we’ve had events in Charlottesville and Donald looking at a group of neo-Nazis and seeing good people, we’ve had various provocations towards World War Three, and now him getting into a slanging match with a woman whose husband actually died in the service of America. There’s no doubt other stuff I’m forgetting. What an incredibly strange world we inhabit where I can’t even remember all the dreadful things the U.S. President has done over the last three months.
It’s easy to see why I was appalled, but embarrassed? Well, obviously the books about Donald Trump being the worst human being of all have started appearing, and there will be hundreds – if not thousands more – in the coming years. So, to distance myself from them, I posited writing a horror novel where Trump manages to redeem himself. Where this great existential threat appears and seems likely to wipe out human life, and he – despite his terrible nature – manages to perform his first selfless act and save everyone.
I now feel embarrassed even having contemplated that idea as clearly he is far beyond redemption. As Nathan Rabin wrote the other day, he’s not so much a character as a series of character flaws. There’s not going to be any selfless act, there’s going to be no moment which saves his soul. Simply put, he is a dreadful, terrible human being who does dreadful, terrible things.
So where does this leave this horror novel? Obviously, I need to re-frame it, but I’m not going to do it in a way that turns Donald into The Big Bad. No, his ego would like that too much. Instead if I’m going to write it, I have to do in such a way that makes him smaller rather than bigger.
As such I’m still going Lovecraftian. I’m still thinking of Cthulhu or one of The Old Ones as my main villain. But rather than save us, Donald is going to be responsible for dooming us. He won’t be the lead villain, he will be the bozo who lets the proper lead villain get a foothold. And not through malice even, but just because he’s incompetent and his small, nasty, bigoted little brain functions as a series of petty and wrong-headed impulses. He won’t plan to do it, maybe he’ll plan to do the exact opposite. But such is his lack of understanding of everything that isn’t him, he gets it wrong and that allows this unspeakable, ancient evil to thrive.
What happens to the character of Donald after that, I don’t know. Maybe he’ll realise how much real estate Cthulhu now controls and the TV ratings he’s getting, and fall into line behind our new pan-dimensional overlord. Or maybe I’ll just kill him off. But this theoretical story that I might one day write is going off in a whole other direction. One where I don’t give Donald any status beyond being a stepping stone for the real bad guy.
Intrigued? You can read a FRJ story which is already finished here.