The new stars of the Netflix era, to baptize with a name that plague of increasingly squalid and omnipresent productions, are people of flesh and bone, crudely real, vampirized so that anyone can consume them immediately and remotely, by streaming, and quench your hunger for reality.
Now it is the turn of Roger Ailes, former CEO of Fox News, and an evangelical group that calls itself, generically for its best invisibility, "The Family." Both series feed on American politics. And they also share an eccentric counter-figure, Donald Trump and his television presence. But before arriving at Trump, what is this series of series made of? Secrets, falls, conspiracies, paranoias, pseudo sects, grandiloquence. And power. Above all power, that invaluable capital, that magnetic force, always difficult to measure, to quantify, but that leaves no doubt of its presence when it erupts on the scene.
The parable of Roger Ailes can be seen in The Loudest Voice, a fiction based on his latest big project and his fall, just as big, by allegations of sexual harassment. He founded and directed Fox News, a channel that already anticipates a good part of the communication analysis of the 21st century, noting that it is not about informing the audience but about feeling informed. In that minimal but key difference Fox News operates to speak to half of a country to which the news networks did not speak to him: the old conservatives and the orphan Republicans.RELATED
The documentary series "The Family" is based on the investigations of journalist Jeff Sharlet.
Roger Ailes, under the performance of an impeccable Russel Crowe, is a dirty, contradictory character, an unpleasant old man, but also charismatic in his own way. Obese, authoritarian, always in a suit, with blood clotting problems, histrionic and with a sense of humor. A mercenary of the American right, a brutal paranoid and a narcissist. The power reached by Ailes is so great that he founded a kind of mutual relief society with the White House and the Republican party.
Crowe's characterization, so criticized by the press (The Guardian published "Crowe's bald head is just one step above a beige bathing cap with wire wool attached to the edges"), generates a reinforcement of collateral effect his performance, as if that artificiality made fake Ailes more "real".
The jumps in time between chapters gives The Loudest Voice an electric speed, goes straight to the important facts, where you can see the fire power (conservative, sensationalist) of Ailes: the creation of the canal, the fall of the twin towers , the arrival of Barak Obama. In this way, the series reinforces its chapters with a certain degree of autonomy beyond the narrative arc that traces the rise and collapse of its protagonist. But, above all, it shows that these types of productions become more captivating the more they concentrate in their core. Roger Ailes is not Don Draper or Walter White, he is not a magnetic character, he is not a hero. Nobody wants to see him for seven seasons with his nasty ways and his daily harassment, a couple of extra chapters and even the most faithful of the spectators would have gotten fed up with Ailes.
On the contrary, the documentary series The Family seems inflated by narrative anabolic force. The material they have is little, insubstantial, and their result could have been better if they had opted for less than their five chapters. Something erratic and confusing, with an incredibly bad first chapter (they show some fictionalized reconstructions that seem like the disapproved practical work of an American film school), unmasks the hidden and evangelical power of a group of men over the domestic and external politics of the States United.
Species of cabinet in the shadows, La Familia has made invisibility its main intervention strategy. There is no better power than the unspoken. Its members name Jesus every two words as if they were weaving a subliminal message by force of an incessant repetition. But Jesus is also the key, open sesame to reach the most unthinkable, or contradictory places with Christianity itself, and end up meeting with the most reactionary and retrograde leaders in the world, counting in their records dictators and governments that sentence the penalty of Death to homosexuals. The networks of power of the Family do not know of enemies, all are potential allies with Jesus as a way of liquefying any difference.
Everywhere they carry their little book that, how could it be otherwise, is titled "Jesus" and is a summary of the key gospels, the only thing that matters is knowing. But, in addition, they surprise the inverted readings that make, for example, the story of King David, whom they turn into a moral model of righteousness, an example of how to proceed. Jesus is the unanimous cause to justify any destiny and prevent someone from taking over the right to twist it. So a governor who belongs to La Familia rejects the money from the national state to fight poverty or does not allow an official to resign for more problems.
And then Donald Trump appears with his blond cartoon hair and articulated gestures, with the assurance of who knows that time, which is money, is all his and that is why he can do whatever he wants in front of a camera and a microphone.
La Familia and Trump meet during the 2017 National Prayer Breakfast organized by the same Family, an event in which each president participates since 1953 and which consists of a series of meetings with political leaders from around the world, the great demonstration of power of this invisible group. Trump, like his predecessors, gives a speech at the central event and, to everyone's surprise, instead of talking about Jesus, religion, Christianity, traditional values, he talks about Arnold Scharzenegger and practices a couple of jokes megalomaniac. Both shows merge, says Jeff Sharlet (author of the two books on which the series is based and today a repentant who integrated The Family).
These days, Trump is accused of interfering with the internal politics of Ukraine (in an episode worthy of the Cold War) and The Family also shows the ways in which the United States intervenes in the politics of other countries although in much more ways subtle and always with the slogan "Jesus Superstar". Meanwhile, in The Loudest Voice, Trump is an off-field figure. The calls with Ailes and the conservative crusade that unites them are common. But, above all, they seem to have discovered that the contemporary password is to do politics without talking about politics. Ailes has false news and resorts to sensationalist Chicanas, the perfect combination for Trump's reactionary, television and apolitical discourse.
Antagonistic in their approaches and procedures, The Family and The Loudest Voice end up sharing the same decline in politics in favor of the show.