Room to Dream
by David Lynch and Kristine McKenna, Canongate, 592pp, £25
While promoting his new book, the American film director David Lynch told the Guardian that Donald Trump “could go down as one of the greatest presidents in history”. This wasn’t the first time Lynch had spoken positively about a Republican leader, and in the book he describes going to the White House to discuss movies and dance with Ronald and Nancy Reagan.
But because of the difference in the culture now – and perhaps Lynch’s greater cultural weight – the quotation had a more dramatic impact. It was commented on approvingly, albeit taken out of context, by Trump. Lynch then wrote an open letter to the president, telling him that in order to truly be one of the greatest presidents, he would need to change his behaviour.
In the brief period between the interview and the open letter, Lynch’s publishers went on Twitter to encourage people to see his words in context. And it was clear that Lynch wasn’t coming out in uncritical support of Trump. Even so, his comments were troubling for those dismayed by the president’s behaviour. Lynch was undecided about Trump’s presidency, but he was expressing straight-forward admiration that Trump had “disrupted” the political process.
Being able to “disrupt” things is a virtue in Lynch-land: he holds a Festival of Disruption in Los Angeles every year. He was also expressing disenchantment with the political process. Many share this, but there’s a danger that it can shade over into the distrust of experts that populists use to their advantage.
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