This Ronald Reagan-era T&A flick contains more insight about our modern times and the Trump presidency than you realize.
This post expands on an earlier post of mine, America is under siege from the guys in Porky’s.
TL;DR: I wrote about being a white male who got to travel through my late boyhood/early teen times during the Reagan years and how those times fucked up so many of us white dudes.
If you don’t click through and read, this thought from the old post that applies to this new post as well.
“That’s a key message of Porky’s: if everyone else tried harder to understand white guy hatred, the world would be a better place.”
That’s the moral of the movie, in a nutshell. It also seems to be the message of Trump voters, who complain about being left behind when the numbers prove that they are America’s most prosperous group. The “America” in “Make America Great Again” is this fabled place where these white people can be their worst selves while others must remain on their best behavior.
MAGA likes to reference the 1950s when they talk about this “America” that should be resurrected. But they don’t seem to be thinking of the 1950s America where the rich and corporations paid higher tax rates. Or the 1950s America in which a Republican Party counted Martin Luther King as one of their members because their platform offered more racial inclusiveness. Or even the 1950s America that supported a strong middle class who had relatively easy access to education and healthcare—one bread-winner could work forty hours a week and provide for the whole family…you have heard stories about that America, right? Well, MAGA doesn’t want that America. Nope.
When MAGA talks about earlier times, they talk about Porky’s. The movie takes place in a soda-cracker-white, 1950s Florida town with manicured lawns and swampy outskirts where the cross-burnings take place. The story is packed with willful racial ignorance and cornball rape humor. The mayonnaise-main characters…all that’s missing is red #MAGA ball caps manufactured in China.
A president like Donald Trump belongs in a mythical America like the one in Porky’s. His authoritarianism and the movie’s authoritarianism align. At the start of the movie, the main character bros drive across the county line to connive their way into the strip club owned by the character Porky. After they get caught, Porky summons his Sheriff, who proceeds to destroy one of the fella’s cars and threaten their lives while Porky and his gang of rednecks chortle and guffaw and snicker.
But the fellas get their revenge, in Trumpian ways. At the end of the movie, they provoke a fight with Porky’s gang, who chase the fellas across the county line…where the fellas’ own Sheriff awaits. He destroys Porky’s car and threatens his gang’s lives. And now it’s the boys’ turn to chortle and guffaw and snicker while Porky’s gang just stands there and puts up with law enforcement abusing their power.
The “America” in “Make America Great Again” is an America where the police exist not to enforce laws, but to subvert those laws on behalf of the right people—by “right people” I mean “Sean Hannity’s viewership.”
When it comes to the original Porky’s post, do you know what weirds me out the most? I wrote it in October of 2013.
Everything that inspired these thoughts—the guy who wrote them down had zero clue that Donald Trump would be elected president three years and one month after this piece posts. I wrote it thinking about the men who couldn’t handle a black man as their president. My 2013 self could not fathom that the guy from Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous would replace the black man as president.
Wait. It’s more like this: say you went back in time to the fall of 2013 and found me sitting somewhere, hanging out. Say you walked up and said, “Hey Chris, guess what? Donald Trump is going to be elected President of the United States of America.”
In the seconds after you said that, my growing laughter would be mixing in with the erupting laughter coming from the people around me who overheard you utter this crazy-talk. The group of us would have then given you sarcastic nods and made the puffing-on-the-joint gesture with our index fingers and thumbs before asking you to leave the premises and spout your nuthouse mumbo-jumbo somewhere else.
And here we are today. I won’t go into further detail because you are also here today and are also aware of the dumb, syphilitic details just like I am.
USA! USA! USA!
A weird thought exercise: imagine yourself at an earlier point in time—but not so far back that details get too muddled. Some moment that you remember…it doesn’t matter the reason…just because. What matters is that you can recall important physical details of this moment, enough to visualize it. Now that you see that vision of yourself, walk up to them and whisper in their ear, “Donald Trump will be President.”
Now, go get a glass of water and throw it in the face of your passed-out old self. If they don’t wake up, try CPR. If needed, bust out the imaginary heart-paddles.
I also post at Medium.
45 thoughts on “Understand the “America” in “Make America Great Again.” Watch the movie Porky’s.”