‘The Brink’ fuels Bannon’s media machine

Several weeks have elapsed since I saw “The Brink,” enough time for me to catch my thoughts and think in terms of commenting on them. By now, you either know Steve Bannon, or you don’t. I recommend you get to know him — for the first time or not — by seeing this film. It should amaze you.
Frankly, I lost track of Bannon soon after he left the Trump White House, after his efforts at fundraising had been so hugely successful. He had other fields to plow. This one-time strategist, banker, news maven, etc., went on another kick, and was just as successful, at least for a while.
How could so many people of great wealth and influence in their own countries fall under Bannon’s spell? He’s not an orator; he’s an under-shaved, overweight man with a big mouth to match his waistline. But when he speaks, certain people like what he says. Those people — many of them here in America — like what he says about creating a populist movement, not “just” to make our country great again a la Trump, but to make it again what it was in its earliest days. These individuals forget they were immigrants themselves, a nation of snowy white Protestants. To them, everyone else, even the Pope, is in the wrong camp. The right one — the only right one — is Bannon’s.
It’s interesting to watch him in this film, as Bannon is being his own overbearing, insulting, abrasive self. You can see him in triumph and in defeat. In truth, both are the same, because he is a true believer in the old, much-debated axiom that any kind of publicity is good, as long as they spell your name correctly. Even the worst publicity is better than none. And, the film shows him getting plenty of both — but mostly of the best, as crowds cheer, raise signs and wear caps left over from the Trump campaign.
You may consider Bannon the hero or the villain of this film, which dares you to differentiate. To me, the real hero, the main figure, doesn’t show her face at all. Alison Klayman, a talented moviemaker, somehow managed to get her subject to agree to this. She had permission to follow him everywhere — on airplanes, to stage appearances, in private conferences with a few world bigwigs, and as his lone self on the telephone, berating others with words I dare not put into print here. At first, I wondered how she accomplished this feat, which I thought then was a miracle. Later, I realized this film is in total agreement with his love of publicity. As long as he is center stage — in the center of a real stage, or sitting by himself with a telephone resting on his saggy belly as he roars into its mouthpiece — he’s getting the publicity he craves, and loves. For a while, I actually wondered if Klayman sold her soul to the devil for this opportunity. How naïve I was.
I have a dear old friend who has always been a student of politics. “I think Bannon really believes the stuff that he spews out,” is his opinion. “He wants to be seen as the prophetic visionary of what he imagines is ahead: His dream, fully realized. He is the American John the Baptist.”
But it’s not his dream just for America, but for the whole world. In this film, you see him in action to sell the dream to the public, with many successes. He is brought down, in the end, but is off again. Not on screen, but in public, continuing to bring his message of “populism” —rule by people he thinks are fit to rule — to everyone who will listen. And who won’t? He’s compelling just because he is so much a figure you wouldn’t believe anyone would believe: An unshaved, overweight slob with a big mouth — who, for better or worse, knows how to use it.

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