Film Courage: I was reading that a high school journalism teacher was trying to help her students decipher Tweets and fake news and that’s something that five years ago, we wouldn’t even be having this conversation.
Dr. Ken Atchity, Author/Producer: I have a really strange theory about this whole thing about fake news is that…I don’t even know how to say this because…I think Trump is kind of a break through cultural character. I don’t have any fond feelings for him and I could go on and on about that. But he is an eccentric creative person. He is the most amazing producer I’ve ever seen in my life and I can’t even imagine one more powerful than he is.
A few years ago people around the world didn’t even know who he was. People in New York knew who he was but mostly in a negative way. But in today’s world whether you are in Thailand like I was a few weeks ago or whether you were in on island off the coast of Samoa or in Latvia or Estonia or Albania, you can’t pick up a paper that doesn’t have the word “Trump” in it.
And his ability to get the media to do what he wants them to do is almost infinite, it’s astonishing. People say “Well he is a liar.” But the more I hear that over the last few years the more I start thinking what is really going on (my wife would hurt me for saying this) is that he is changing or awakening us to our strange views of truth. Because I don’t think he knows this (I don’t think it’s conscious on his part) but he instinctively knows that truth is completely relative.
And if a society decides that it’s not relative, then that is a social decision. Just like the continent of reasoning saying “We are going to agree that this is true.” But he’s saying whatever is true…the only thing that is true is whatever I am saying at the moment and that’s the way I look at it (it’s true). And he’s got a lot of people that even though some of it sounds just plain crazy. But isn’t that the way creative people always sound at the beginning?
So I’m afraid and kind of excited that we may be going into a whole new era of post-truth era.
And no one ever quite answered Pilate’s question that he asked 2,000 years go “What is truth?” But I think the world of Trump is a world that is getting closer to answering that then we’ve ever been before because what if we decide to just dispense with the concept of truth, a lot of things would change. But they are already changing because of him and I think it’s a very strange and troubling situation. But it’s also kind of exhilarating because maybe it’s time that we do have a different view of what truth is and maybe we can learn something from the whole thing.
So I don’t know if this has anything to do with our interview but…
Film Courage: Well, if we look at writing and fake news, if we look at [William] Randolph Hearst, he would stage different events back in the day where a woman would faint on the street and they would write about it and it was part of just generating content. The thing is we didn’t have the Internet back then so news would spread as fast and it wouldn’t create chaos in other countries and our own and then it turns out it’s not even true.
Dr. Atchity: Well, when we look at what’s happened here, the American people decided with their votes one way or the other. I mean I know it was the electoral college not the popular vote. But a lot of Americans voted for a reality show over somebody who was just a little too truthful or whatever a little too logical, a little too much of the continent of reason. But they voted for the most entertaining of the two characters. They voted for entertainment basically. And that’s scary. I mean ultimately these other actors are talking about running and some of them already have run and actresses, etc.
The blurring of politics and entertainment is very dangerous but what if it changes the world? But what if it change the world for not only the worst but changes it for the better?
I mean what is an enlightened guy like George Clooney becomes president.
Film Courage: That would be nice.
Dr. Atchity: And he gets elected because he is George Clooney. He gets elected because he’s an entertainer. What is a guy like Ronald Reagan becomes president?
Film Courage: He was The Great Communicator though.
Dr. Atchity: Yes, well he was a great actor, great communicator. He didn’t need to write his lines, he knew how to deliver his lines. So I think all of that is very interesting and it’s about how the creative worlds intertwine with daily existence and you watch the broadcasters and I try to watch Fox news once and awhile and I find it very difficult to watch it.
But then when I come back to watch CNN and MSNBC I realize they must find…I understand how they feel that is hard to watch because both sides of the coin are manipulating views of reality to get messages across. And that’s what writing is about. Isn’t that what creativity is all about? A painter paints something like Rothenberg, who would have thought you could have painted a painting with no figures in it at all (just color)? And that’s the world we are going through. So it’s kind of like we’re on another frontier of the human’s mind’s evolution and we’ll see what happens from it.
I’m afraid that certain things are going to be gone for good after this presidency. We may not ever get any candidate who isn’t a visionary in one way or another. And Trump is a visionary even if you think his vision is dark, clearly he is a visionary. He doesn’t like the way things are and he’s trying to break them up. And only when things are broken up can they be put back together again. So he’s a spoiler and the world…history is filled with spoilers. And huge catastrophes and huge changes for the better have occurred because of spoilers and who knows where it’s going.
But I think it’s interesting that the entertainment world is being mixed with the world of reality, it’s going to make it much more challenging. And I think the Internet is largely responsible for that because the first thing if you have a certain medical condition you instantly Google. And the first thing you read you go “Oh my Gosh! I’m going to die.” or “I’m going to die in this really bizarre way.” And then you read something else that makes it look like everybody has this problem and that it’s not a big issue. And then you keep reading and you get more and more confused and you go “Wait a minute? This isn’t making sense.” Everything is out there and how do you organize it? And faced with that you are facing the issue of creativity because the creator is the guy or the girl who looks at things and goes “This whole thing is a mess. I’m going to make something spectacular out of it. I’m going to make SENSE out of it.” And I think that is why the world is getting more and more interesting. Where it’s going I don’t know? But it’s going to be interesting.
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