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Hair Force One: which films best describe the Trump era?

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Presidents obsessed with television, entangled in love affairs, and buddying up to Russia: heres how Hollywood predicted Trump

The coincidence of a scandal-engulfed White House and the prospect of military action abroad has led some commentators to refer to a “Wag the Dog moment”, in reference to the 1997 movie. But which Hollywood films have the closest parallels to the Trump presidency?

Wag the Dog (1997)

Dustin
Dustin Hoffman in Wag the Dog. Photograph: HO/Reuters

The US president is beset by a sex scandal and decides to start a foreign war to distract voters’ attention. In the film a Hollywood big shot (Dustin Hoffman) is hired to entirely fabricate a war with Albania on green screen. In Trump’s case, this falls down on a couple of grounds. First, who in Hollywood would help Trump out: Scott Baio and Stacey Dash? Also, why fake a war when you can start a real one all by yourself? “Get ready Russia!

Verdict: American carnage

Air Force One (1997)

Harrison
Harrison Ford, Wendy Crewson and Liesel Matthews in Air Force One. Photograph: Buena Vista

The president’s plane is hijacked and the commander-in-chief (Harrison Ford) single-handedly overpowers the gunmen and saves his wife, child and pretty much the world. For the man who said of the Parkland school shooting “I really believe I’d run in there even if I didn’t have a weapon”, this sort of stuff is pretty small beer. There again, the film starts with the president taking out the head of a nuclear-armed rogue state – and it’s all made possible by his close rapport with the president of Russia.

Verdict: An attack on our country in a true sense

The American President (1995)

Annette
Annette Bening and Michael Douglas in The American President. Photograph: www.ronaldgrantarchive.com

The US president (Michael Douglas) has a love affair which his political opponents try to use against him. Hmm. First of all, the president in the film is a widower, while Trump’s wife, Melania, is alive and well and almost certainly not spending most nights away from the White House. And Trump having an affair in office? Who writes this stuff, Michael Wolff? The clincher: this president has a 63% approval rating.

Verdict: Fake news

Being There (1979)

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