Radiohead’s moody rock ballad “Creep,” a song about a self-conscious man’s unrequited crush, takes on a new meaning when its lyrics are applied to US presidential candidate Donald Trump:
I don’t care if it hurts
I want to have control
I want a perfect body
I want a perfect soul
I want you to notice
When I’m not around
If you view Trump through the lens that he is a sociopath, as conservative writer and filmmaker Ben Howe does, the lyrics make sense. Trump becomes a man hell-bent on using authority, who wants to be perceived by all around him as “perfect.”
Howe, a “Never Trump” editor for the conservative political blog Red State, is making a documentary about Trump’s rise to the top of the Republican party, called The Sociopath. The trailer for the documentary imitates the trailer for The Social Network, which used the Radiohead song to great effect.
The trailer depicts Trump’s campaign as primarily fueled by social media. “His mastery of the platform seems to have been a major contributing influence [to his rise],” Howe told Quartz.
Trump has eschewed a traditional political ground game in favor of holding large rallies, appearing often on television, and tweeting. While it’s gotten him to a virtual tie in the polls with Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton, it remains to be seen whether or not it will be enough to win the general election.
Howe said that his film is not pro-Clinton. Instead, he intends to document how Trump came to be in this position, and why his temperament and character make him unfit to serve as the president of the United States. In an email, Howe told Quartz that he believes Trump is a sociopath.
While Howe is not a psychiatrist, it’s a diagnosis that others have made from afar. Tony Schwartz, the ghostwriter of Trump’s popular 1987 book “The Art of the Deal,” said if he were to write a book about Trump today, it too would be called “The Sociopath.” In a psychological profile of Trump for The Atlantic, Dan P. McAdams, a professor of psychology at Northwestern University, mentioned that some in his profession agree that Trump is, at least, a narcissist:
Asked to sum up Trump’s personality for an article in Vanity Fair, Howard Gardner, a psychologist at Harvard, responded, “Remarkably narcissistic.” George Simon, a clinical psychologist who conducts seminars on manipulative behavior, says Trump is “so classic that I’m archiving video clips of him to use in workshops because there’s no better example” of narcissism. “Otherwise I would have had to hire actors and write vignettes. He’s like a dream come true.”
The ethics of diagnosing a man without treating him directly are murky. But the effort raises the very valid question of whether Trump is capable to serve as the “leader of the free world.” And the idea of evaluating a president on his character has been around at least since the 1972 publication of The Presidential Character by Duke University political science professor James David Barber, who died in 2004.
Filming for The Sociopath is underway. Howe said he plans to release his film in October, roughly three weeks before Election Day (Nov. 8). It will no doubt be just one of countless movies and documentaries that attempt to commit this insane, historic 2016 presidential election to film.