President Trump: for reel

Here's a chicken-and-egg question: Did pop culture predict Donald Trump's presidency, or did Mr Trump rise to power because he shows up so often on screen?

It is uncanny how many movies, TV shows, and even a music video suggested that he would succeed in running for president.

Many portray him as an aggressive, greedy business mogul, but also show him as having magnetism and charm.

The latest TV drama to be inspired by the US President-elect is Law & Order: SVU, which features a Trump-like presidential candidate facing accusations of sexual harassment from women in the episode Unstoppable.

Originally scheduled to air on Nov 16, it has been postponed to possibly next year.

Donald Trump wins US presidency in stunning upset

  • Donald Trump has stunned America and the world, riding a wave of populist resentment to defeat Hillary Clinton in the race to become the 45th president of the United States.
  • The Republican mogul defeated his Democratic rival, plunging global markets into turmoil and casting the long-standing global political order, which hinges on Washington's leadership, into doubt.
  • "Now it is time for America to bind the wounds of division," Trump told a crowd of jubilant supporters in the early hours of Wednesday in New York.
  • "I pledge to every citizen of our land that I will be president for all Americans." During a bitter two-year campaign that tugged at America's democratic fabric, the bombastic tycoon pledged to deport illegal immigrants, ban Muslims from the country and tear up free trade deals.
  • His message appears to have been embraced by much of America's white majority, disgruntled by the breath and scope of social change and economic change in the last eight years under their first black president, Barack Obama.
  • Trump openly courted Russian leader Vladimir Putin, called US support for NATO allies in Europe into question and suggested that South Korea and Japan should develop their own nuclear weapons.
  • The businessman turned TV star turned-politico - who has never before held elected office - will become commander-in-chief of the world's sole true superpower on January 20.
  • The results prompted a global market sell-off, with stocks plunging across Asia and Europe and billions being wiped off the value of investments.
  • Although he has no government experience and in recent years has spent as much time running beauty pageants and starring in reality television as he had building his property empire, Trump at 70 will be the oldest man to ever become president.
  • Yet, during his improbable rise, Trump has constantly proved the pundits and received political wisdom wrong.
  • Opposed by the entire senior hierarchy of his own Republican Party, he trounced more than a dozen better-funded and more experienced rivals in the party primary.
  • During the race, he was forced to ride out allegations of sexual assault and was embarrassed but apparently not shamed to have been caught on tape boasting about groping women.
  • And, unique in modern US political history, he refused to release his tax returns.
  • But the biggest upset came on Tuesday, as he swept to victory through a series of hard-fought wins in battleground states from Florida to Ohio.
  • Clinton had been widely assumed to be on course to enter the history books as the first woman to become president in America's 240-year existence.
  • Americans have repudiated her call for unity amid the United States' wide cultural and racial diversity, opting instead for a leader who insisted the country is broken and that "I alone can fix it."
  • If early results hold out, Trump's party will have full control of Congress and he will be able to appoint a ninth Supreme Court justice to a vacant seat on the bench, deciding the balance of the body.
  • So great was the shock that Clinton did not come out to her supporters' poll-watching party to concede defeat, but instead called Trump and sent her campaign chairman to insist in vain the result was too close to call.
  • "I want every person in this hall to know, and I want every person across the country who supported Hillary to know that your voices and your enthusiasm mean so much to her and to him and to all of us. We are so proud of you. And we are so proud of her," chairman John Podesta told shell-shocked supporters.
  • "She's done an amazing job, and she is not done yet," he insisted.
  • Musician Lagy Gaga stages a protest against Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump on a sanitation truck outside Trump Tower in New York City after midnight on election day November 9, 2016.
  • A street performer dressed as the Statue of Liberty hold photos of U.S. presidential candidates Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton at the financial Central district in Hong Kong, China November 9, 2016, after Trump won the presidency.
  • A "Naked Cowboy" performer supporting Donald Trump walks through Times Square in New York, November 9, 2016.
  • People react as they watch news on a screen to follow the results of the final day of the US presidential election at an event organised by the American consulate in Shanghai on November 9, 2016.
  • Protesters against president-elect Donald Trump march peacefully through Oakland, California.
  • A separate group earlier in the night set fire to garbage bins and smashed multiple windows.
  • Police officers chase a group of about 50 protesters.
  • University of California, Davis students protest on campus in Davis, California.
  • An invitee places a cookie depicting U.S. Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton on a table at the US presidential election results watch party at the residence of US Ambassador to Japan, Caroline Kennedy, in Tokyo.

Here are Mr Trump's top appearances in pop culture.


The reality show boosted Mr Trump's visibility and fame.

Its first season had nearly 21 million viewers a week and was the seventh most-watched show of 2004.

He starred as a business-minded "fairy godfather" who would grant contestants their wish to go not to the ball but the boardroom.

The Apprentice made "you're fired" a catchphrase and no one said it with more relish than Mr Trump.

He yelled at and humiliated under-performing contestants, occasionally made comments loaded with sexual innuendo about female contestants, and basically came off as an arrogant alpha male, but one who was also a financial genius.


Sixteen years ago, the animated comedy series aired an episode called Bart to the Future, picturing a future where Lisa Simpson becomes US President after Mr Trump, who had run the nation to ruin.

In an interview with The Hollywood Reporter in March, The Simpsons writer Dan Greaney said: "It was a warning to America. That just seemed like the logical last stop before hitting bottom. It was consistent with the vision of America going insane...

"The Donald Trump that we were writing about was kind of a lovable, over-the-top character and didn't have this darkness."

The Simpsons creator Matt Groening said last month: "Back in 2000, Trump was, of course, the most absurd placeholder joke name that we could think of at the time and that's still true. It's beyond satire."

Last year, the show aired the episode Trumptastic Voyage, after Mr Trump announced he was running for president, in which Homer Simpson posed as a Trump supporter and took a fantastical trip into Trump's "gravity-defying comb-over".


The 1989 film saw hero Marty McFly visit the future - 2015, to be exact - only to see his nemesis, Biff Tannen, as a successful business tycoon with a casino to his name and women in his hot tub.

The brash, villainous Biff also uses his money to become a corrupt Republican politician, leading California's Hill Valley to a crime-infested, post-apocaplyptic state.

Co-writer Bob Gale told The Daily Beast that the Biff character was loosely based on Mr Trump.

He said: "There's a scene where Marty confronts Biff in his office and there's a huge portrait of Biff on the wall behind Biff, and there's one moment where Biff kind of stands up and he takes exactly the same pose as the portrait."

Mr Trump is known for having a six-foot-tall portrait of himself, which he bought in 2007 at a fundraiser auction for US$20,000 (S$28,260) with money from his Donald J. Trump Foundation.


In the Sleep Now In The Fire music video in 1999, by US rock band Rage Against the Machine, the US is a dystopian society filled with the greedy and morally bankrupt and one man is seen holding up a sign that says "Donald J. Trump for President".

Mr Trump had thrown in his name to be the Reform Party nominee for president, but he withdrew in 2000.

Film-maker Michael Moore, who directed the video, made the documentary Michael Moore in TrumpLand this year, warning of the dangers of Mr Trump's possible election.

Moore posted an essay titled 5 Reasons Why Trump Will Win on his website in July and said that Mr Trump's reputation for nastiness and narcissism would not affect his popularity at the voting booth.

He wrote: "This wretched, ignorant, dangerous part-time clown and full-time sociopath is going to be our next president."

He was right - and so were the other Trump-inspired entertainment tidbits.

Read also:
In Singapore, many Americans just want to move on
Mexico moves to help migrants after Trump win

This article was first published on November 14, 2016.
Get The New Paper for more stories.