Just in case you haven’t heard it by now, filmmaker Stanley Kubrick had a trick for posing his actors in such a way as to create the illusion of evil or madness or both. It has come to be known as “the Kubrick stare.” He’d ask actors to tilt their heads slightly downward so their eyes looked as if they were staring up at you from just below the eyelids.
It was how he opened the movie “A Clockwork Orange.” The first shot after the opening credits is a hard cut to the antihero “Alex” (Malcolm McDowell) in just such a pose. Kubrick used the same pose with Jack Nicholson in “The Shining” and Vincent D’Onofrio in “Full Metal Jacket.” The Kubrick stare, even though Kubrick himself never called it that, became a sort of Stanley Kubrick trademark.
I doubt that when Donald Trump posed for his mugshot he’d ever heard of the Kubrick stare. But I guarantee that he and his thugs tried on various “tough guy” poses before they settled on that one. And a truly creepy and bizarre pose it is. But that wasn’t the principal reason Donald Trump posed for his mugshot the way he did. No, he did it that way because it’s a familiar trick used on Tick Tock by the overweight. He was hiding his double chin.
To be sure, the expression was also intended to communicate a kind of cool disdain or smug contempt for the process. He wanted to — desperately needed to — communicate to the world that he, Donald J Trump, does not recognise any authority above his own, that such shenanigans are beneath him. What he actually communicated instead was that he is out of his tiny mind with blind terror, and, again, that he doesn’t want you to know he has a buccula.
As Bill Palmer so aptly put it, we have turned a corner with the Fulton County booking. Donald Trump’s chickens have just arrived home and they are looking for a place to roost. And Donald Trump now truly knows it. And that is why he is truly frightened and utterly full of rage.
I was disappointed to learn that Fulton County trusted Trump (of all people) to tell the truth about his own height and weight. That gave him the opportunity to lie and he took that opportunity, of course. Trump substituted his previous claim of 6 foot 2 with 6 foot 3, and made the preposterous representation that he’s 215 pounds. If Donald Trump is 6 foot 3 and 215 pounds then I’m Mahatma Gandhi.
But because Trump is a narcissist he needs to hide how truly terrified he is behind bluff and bluster. He has gone to extraordinary lengths to convince us that he’s taller and thinner than he really is, that he is in fact just fine and he is going to prove it by selling mugshot murch. The murch includes cups and t-shirts with the slogan “NEVER SURRENDER” together with the world’s most famous mugshot taken when Trump was — literally — surrendering. I am not making this up.
On page one of his website, below the now notorious mugshot, Trump proclaims “The American people know what’s going on … I walked into the lion’s den with one simple message on behalf of our entire movement: I WILL NEVER SURRENDER OUR MISSION TO SAVE AMERICA.” Yes, we know what’s going on all right. Trump is whistling past the graveyard. And he’s truly frightened that, for the first time in his despicable life, he is going to have to answer for his crimes. And, as ever, ladies and gentlemen, brothers and sisters, comrades and friends, stay safe.
Robert Harrington is an American expat living in Britain. He is a portrait painter.