My Personal Theory About The Mooch’s Change Of Heart On Trump & Trump’s Second Term

Shelton Bumgarner

by Shelton Bumgarner

It seems to me that The Mooch’s defection to The Resistance (somewhat) has more to do with a cold hard political calculation than anything else. I still believe that Trump is going to coast to a second term. And The Mooch acting the way he is more of a signal about Trump’s second term than any strength of opposition of Trump in the Republican Party.

Trump’s second term is going to be hell. The passions against Trump will grow ever higher and The Mooch senses he can have a lot more power as a one of a few #NeverTrumpers than he can as just another FOX News talking head. So, in a sense, The Mooch is positioning himself for long term growth.

I think in the end Trump is going to be seen as a transitional character. It won’t be Trump that turns us into the dystopian nightmare we all fear, it will be a younger, more focused successor. I do think, however, that Trump has replaced Reagan in the pantheon of Republican demigods.

I still am of the opinion that we’re going to wait until the youngest of the Baby Boomers drop dead in about 20 years for any hope politically. By that point hopefully the browning of America will be strong enough on an electoral level that things will sort themselves out.

Of course, we could just have a civil war.

But anyone who is spooging their pants at the notion of a second Trump Administration needs to hold their horses a little bit. Second terms are notorious for being far worse than first terms. So there’s a real chance that Trump could do something so catastrophic politically that he may face a real impeachment threat.

Or put another way — around 2023 things are going to start to get lit.

The Plan

Shelton Bumgarner

By Shelton Bumgarner

Things are moving faster again with the novel. At the same time, however, I find lingering frustration. Something happened recently that left a bad taste in my mouth. I suddenly find myself interested in writing a screenplay. As such, I’m probably going to buy FinalDraft sometime in September. I also hope to buy a few screenwriting books as well.

In the past, my biggest problem has been thinking up plots. I have plenty — plenty — of great ideas for movies. But I’ve always struggled with plots. But using the skillset I’ve developed from working on the novel, I believe I have a better chance at writing a successful (relative to me) screenplay. Or two. Or three.

I’ve vowed to myself that whenever I finish a screenplay, I’ll give myself permission to head to LA for a few days to poke around. But I won’t do so without a least one screenplay I can show people. While I’m quite pleased writing a novel and that’s my main creative project right now, I want to at least attempt to write a screenplay as well.

The issue is I have numerous ideas for movies because they lend themselves to something visual, something seen on the big screen. Add to this that I natively have a very extroverted personality, I believe if I put in the hard work of writing a screenplay or two, I might have at least a slim chance of being able to find someone in LA willing to take a look at it.

But, of course, I realize this is being extremely naive. Given my age, where I’m from and pretty much everything else about me, the possibility I would actually manage to pull this dream of is, in real terms, slim to none. But, if nothing else, it gives me something productive to do with my spare time as I work on the novel.

‘Hobbs & Shaw,’ A Political Review

by Shelton Bumgarner

When I living in South Korea, I once found myself near the DMZ at a English Camp designed to give a young Korean the experience of living in an English speaking nation. While I was there, I saw in a waiting room a video of a kid’s show. What was notable about the cartoon was the name of the villain — Darwin.

This little bit of creatist propaganda has lingered with me over the years. That the show’s writer thought they could get young, impressionable minds to associate Darwin and by extension evolution with villany was both extremely annoying and impressive.

Before I begin, I would also like to note the “explanation” of Top Gun in the movie Sleep With Me.

Anyway, let’s get the point — the deeper political meaning in the otherwise summer popcorn movie Hobbs & Shaw. It has taken me a few days, but I feel as though there is a lot more going on with this movie than initially meets the eye. There’s a lot of sly politics in the movie that is so open to interpretation that it might leave one scratching their heads.

Let’s talk about the general plot. — spoilers ahead.

The plot, as much as there is one, is about a nebulous “deep state” type of company that wants to use its Snowflake programmable virus to kill off the weak and do a very Thanos-type restructuring of society. Two guys who ostensibly hate each other — The Rock (Hobbs) and Jason Statham (Shaw) join forces to defeat the bad guys and save the day. From what I saw of the movie, the only reason why I don’t think this movie’s politics is quite what you might this is comes from the people involved.

Given the fan service the movie does to The Rock’s WWE fandom, I’m led to believe the producers of this movie see its market as center-Right. At the same time, given how liberal-progressive Hollywood is, I am reluctant to believe that there aren’t air quotes around the movie’s superficial politics. I don’t know The Rock’s politics, but I struggle to believe he’s anything more than closer to center-Left than center-Right

Let’s break down some of the plot to see what’s going on.

The McGuffin is a woman — the sister of the Shaw character (22 years younger than he is, natch)– who has shot the virus into her bloodstream. If you REALLY wanted to get deep about the politics of this movie, you could say that it’s supposed to be, in a sense, about the “special relationship” between the United State in post-Brexit, post-Trump geopolitical world. I only say this because The Rock obviously represents America and Statham the UK. They are alone in the world and have to work together to save the day. (That a Russian helps save the day is an interesting twist to all of this.)

Anyway, there are some other things I noticed. That the programmable super virus is called “Snowflake” can be interpreted two ways. Either we’re meant to think of that obviously the Bad Guys are evil liberals (snowflakes) or we’re meant to laugh that the thing that could end the world is a bunch of snowflakes.

The reasoning that the villain gives for ending the world a very conservative-interpretation-of-the-liberal-worldview. Hollywood these days they find themselves having to square the circle. They want to appease a center-Right audience (to make money) but they also have to do so in a way that allows them not to hate themselves. That’s why, I feel, the politics of this movie are extremely muddled, but obviously there.

And, yet, I simply am not prepared to accept that this is Brad Bird Hollywood conservatism. For starters, Bird’s work is much more nuanced than this movie and has a stronger idology. This movie, meanwhile, seems to want it both ways. It wants to appease its center-Right audience, while at the same time looking slant eye at center-Left people in the audience in a way that suggests, “Can you believe what we have to do to appease the Right?”

I liked this movie because it did want it set out to do — entertain you in a cool theatre for a few hours on a hot summer day. I find it interesting, however, that the corrosive politics of the Trump Era has even seeped into what might otherwise be just a dumb summer movie.

Anyway, I probably will never know how close to the truth I am on this subject. I would like to believe I have dug up something interesting, however. There’s no way they would name the super virus “Snowflake” without there being an ulterior motive.

Shelton Bumgarner, a writer living in Virginia, is working on his first novel. He may be reached at migukin (at) gmail (dot) com.

I Have An Idea

by Shelton Bumgarner

While I’m deep into working on a novel, I have an idea, a notion, a conceit for a screenplay that’s interesting.

I have the general universe — and twist ending — down pat. What I don’t have is much of a plot. But I do have another plot lying around and I may use it to flesh out the plot of this idea.

But it really doesn’t matter right now. I have a novel to work on.

Well, At Least I Know This Novel’s Universe Really Well

by Shelton Bumgarner

The more I think about it, the more I really like the Hobbes & Shaw screenplay. I say this because it did was a screenplay is supposed to do — be invisible. Only the greats can write a screenplay that is conspicuous enough that the average person notices it. A screenplay, in my opinion, is simply the framework for the producer, director and actors to tell the story.

The more I write this novel, the more seriously I take structure, character and plot. Your job as a storyteller is to get out of the way. You lay out a universe with interesting characters and then smash them against each other in a way where you have increasing tension. If shit blows up and people have sex, all the better.

But the main point is that the audience cares about the characters. I cared about what was going on with the characters in Hobbes & Shaw, even though it was meant to be mindless summer fun. I thought there were some pretty big plot holes, but the overall effect was interesting and entertaining.

As I said, I liked the screenplay because I did not find myself thinking about it. Things moved along at a brisk pace. You meant interesting people with believable rationales. I did not want to walk out once, which is saying something for me.

Compare this to Booksmart. I walked out with the inciting incident occurred. Way too much screeching over things I did not want to sit through two hours worth of hero’s journey. I understand you’re supposed to give the Hero room to grow, but when all the screeching happened, I bounced. I had better things to do with my time.

But, again, I was not the audience. The audience seemed to be bi curious girls seniors in high school. Or something. Something I’m not. The thing about Once Upon A Time…In Hollywood was I really, really cared about the characters even though for much of the film they didn’t do all that much. That’s a testament to good writing, if ever there was one.

Anyway. I need to read more. And watch more movies. I need to hurry up and finish the first draft, if nothing else.

Struggling With The Romantic Aspect of The Novel

by Shelton Bumgarner

I am cruising towards having my Hero and Heroine hook up. I have a really cool way for this to happen. And, yet, I worry no one will believe it’s possible. I say this knowing that the scene I’m going to write is very possible because it happened to ME.

I have debated at length with myself as to when to have my two leads hook up. If I don’t do it right, women will be turned off. Since I want this at least _try_ to be a tentpole, I have to be careful of just that. I have already worked the plot some to tone down the male sex fantasy aspect of the introduction of the female lead.

But given that this is just a first draft, I’m going to just write it. If I don’t like it long-term, I’ll change it when I come around to the second draft. The key issue is to just keep writing.

As I have said before, you can’t edit a blank page.

Storytelling During Trump Time

by Shelton Bumgarner

As I’ve said repeatedly, the thing about trying to write the type of novel I’m writing is how up-in-the-air everything is. I have no idea what the mood of the nation will be whenever I try to sell it much less whenever it might be actually in bookshelves.

The story is meant to be timeless and yet timely, just like the movie Network. I want people to nod their head as they explore this fantastical world I’ve thought up. I want them to, in the back of their head, see the allegorical nature of the plot and universe.

Of course, there is a good chance this will piss MAGA people off. So much so, I continue to stress out about someone like Don Jr. telling his followers to hate read it. (Though that would be cool for the bottomline.)

But, really, I have to do the hard work. I have to flesh out the plot I have. I have to create a universe people will want to spend a few days in. It’s a lot of work. A whole lot of work.

And this novel is very autobiographical in a macro sense. I am using a lot of my personal life and personal history to tell this story. The better you know me personally, the more this will be obvious to you. I’m using a lot of my experiences in Seoul to tell this story. That is making telling this story a lot easier, believe you me.

I just have to keep writing. I just have to keep believing. I can’t get weighed down with insecurities. I do need to read more and watch more movies. I will admit that. I find myself studying popular movies to figure out what makes them a good tale and how I can improve my story from what I learn.

As I have mentioned, I found Hobbes & Shaw touched all the right bases of storytelling. And it doesn’t too much thought to see that through the use of subject, a lot of issues of the day were addressed. It was because of the complete lack of subtext that I absolutely hated Booksmart. That movie enraged me because I felt it was so eager to suck its own ideological dick that it miss the point of the whole endeavor: tell a great story.

Had Olivia Wilde leaned more into it being a homage of, say, Heathers, then I think it would have been a more popular film. And, yet, as I keep saying, I was obviously NOT the audience of that movie so I don’t really have much room to talk. But I felt it failed a story because of how ideological it was.

That’s a real risk for telling stories under Trump. Trump has made the political divide in America so taunt that it’s difficult to both tell a tentpole story AND use subtext to tell the audience what’s on your mind.

‘Hobbes & Shaw,’ ‘Network’ & The Novel I’m Writing

by Shelton Bumgarner

I saw Hobbes & Shaw today and I really liked it. It dealt with a lot of modern issues using subtext. I felt it had a deeper meaning if you gave it some thought, which is why I enjoyed it so much.

My novel is meant to be sort of “The Millennium Series” meets “Network.”

That, in a sense, is the high concept notion of it. I say that because this is a novel that really is meant to be a snapshot — in an allegorical sense — of American under Trump. The plot is just an excuse to explore the allegorical world. Hopefully, of course, I won’t come off as too preachy. That would really suck and hurt the chances of the novel being any form of a success.

I’m trying to write as fast as I can. I hope to finally, finally wrap up the first draft’s first act for real by the end of the month. I’m so desperate to move out of the first act, that if I can’t do it through rewriting, I’m going to do it be reusing much of what I’ve already written.

Once I get out of the first act and can successfully stay out of it, I think things should move a lot faster. I know the ins and outs of the novel’s plot like the back of my hand on a macro level. It’s the tactical stuff that is slowing me down at this point.

But, again, the point is to just keep going. I can’t choke or get discouraged by assuming someone is going to “steal” the idea or make it moot in some way. While both of those things are very possible, I have to keep writing until it’s actually proven to have happened.

Not before.

Sometimes, You Just Have To Believe

by Shelton Bumgarner

I find myself constantly assuming someone is going to steal a creative march on me. So much so, I feel myself just not wanting to continue with the novel. I’m that sure. I’m that absolutely sure that someone, somewhere will somehow “steal” my novel’s concept or otherwise make it moot.

And, yet, I keep going for a number of reasons. One is I’ve already invested a huge amount of time and energy into it. So why assume the worst until it actually happens? If something happens to negate my hard work, then we’ll roll with it.

But wait until it actually happens.

So, meanwhile, I’m going to keep going. I have a huge amount of work to do still. But I feel as though I’ve at least gotten out of the main part of development. I’m getting into actually writing the novel — or at least the first serious draft.

This is happening in large part to finally figuring out the basic structure of the plot and universe. The novel deals with “big ideals” in an entertaining fashion. I honestly can’t think of anything else I would rather be working on at this point.

Really, it’s a matter of not getting distracted by what “might” or “may” happen. The point is to keep writing, keep believing. Keep believing in myself that I can produce a quality product that will have mass appeal.

None of that can happen in the first place if I don’t believing myself enough to keep going.

Writing A Timeless Tale & Avoiding The Story Being Dismissed As A Liberal Screed

by Shelton Bumgarner

The thing I realized today is there’s no way to avoid my own personal rage at MAGA from coming out. My hatred of MAGA is so central to the conceit of the tale that I’m just going to have to accept that I can’t do what I really wanted to do, which was write a great tale that was on its surface just that.

As such, if there’s any chance this actually gets published and is a success, there’s a real chance that there will be a lot of hate-readers. The presence of Trump is felt in the very DNA of the story. I want this to come across as a political fairytale for woke Park Slope moms. A guilty pleasure, if you will.

While I may be able to get close to that, I can’t help that it’s pretty obvious who this story is directed towards. My only hope is that the characters are interesting enough that at least some of the center-Right might be willing to put aside my subtle ranting against MAGA long enough to enjoy the story.

The tale is supposed to be an indictment of extremism in general. That’s the goal. But I have to admit to myself that if this story actually gets any traction that a lot of conservatives will be so angry at how much rage I’m directed at MAGA (if in a fuzzy way) that they will bitch and moan about the story in general.

But I don’t know. I just don’t know. This is not meant to be high art. This is pop art. It’s meant to be a snapshot of the Trump Era via allegory. But the main point at this time is to simply finish the first draft.

One thing that’s really important to me is to try to make this sufficiently timeless — much like the movie Network — that it stands on its own terms and is not dated too quickly. We’ll see, I guess. I just have to believe in myself and keep writing.

You can’t edit a blank page.