Every time I see a Femme Fatale on the movie screen I can’t take my eyes off her. Remember in Double Indemnity when Fred MacMurray kept walking into the alluring arms of Barbara Stanwick, risking his career and position in the community because Barbara knew just what to say to wrap him around her finger. I need you, I get you, I love you for supporting me. Fred must have had a big hole in his heart that she was filling. The audience can see she doesn’t care about him. Fred even has evidence of her manipulative and unsavoury heart, but he just keeps defending her like it makes him a better man.
It is the same experience when I watch the Trump rise to power and Presidency. He is such a Femme Fatale! Many American voters became the Fred McMurray to Trump’s Femme Fatale power and now the whole country is governed by him. Somehow he knew all his voters’ emotional pain and capitalised on it for his own benefit. Now they are losing their healthcare to fund tax cuts for Trump’s real friend. Who would have thought this would become the story of the land of the Hero?
Is Trump the first male Femme Fatale that we can think of? What other male character knew how to make the protagonist, in this case, the voters, feel loved because he understood their pain and convinced them that together they could be great again? There has got to be at least one more.
“Just imagine the great time it is going to be when we are in power – because I really get you”, says the Femme Fatale. “Finally you have someone who sees you, and cares about you.”
This is a story as old as time but I for one did not see it coming. When Trump came to town, all the rules changed. In this new world, the danger is not outside of us, it is within. All the voters’ insecurities and feelings of lack of belonging become the weapons used against them under the spell of the Femme Fatale. Emotions are what matters now. Trump is not burdened by a need to be consistent or even factual. He morphs into whatever his supporters need to hear to keep them supporting him. Actually, attacking what Trump says often galvanises his supporters’ resolve to be loyal. Or worse, it reads like we are picking at details when we really should be caring about the voters’ pain. Then he pleads for help because journalists and Democrats are attacking him with fake news and witch hunts – mostly journalists.
Here’s the thing, Toto. We aren’t in Kansas anymore. Everything is different here. We don’t look for who to blame and insist on the factual truth in this world. That’s the old world. We can’t fight a Femme Fatale like we do a Villain. It just makes the protagonist want to come to the rescue. That’s part of the Femme Fatale’s power.
Now that he is President, and exposing his true colours to everyone, Trump’s power is crumbling because the Femme Fatale only knows how to manipulate the feelings. When you’re is in charge you can’t just whine about how everyone is against you. You have to look forward and do the job.
But here’s the thing. Even if this Femme Fatale falls, and it is pretty clear that eventually this one will, there will be other Femme Fatales who set out to manipulate voters with their charisma and ability to read other people’s pain. Trump has shown how effective this character is for winning elections.
The Femme Fatale gets into the heart of the protagonist (aka voters), and starts pulling at the strings. The solution is for voters to take control of their own heart. One by one we can take responsibility for our feelings, and notice where we feel disconnected, and heal it. The Femme Fatale has no power if people are not longing to be understood and feel like they matter. We can’t create laws or dispatch armies to fight the Femme Fatale. In today’s world of big data and fake news and facebook, the only way to overcome the Femme Fatale is to become a society where all our citizens feel like they belong.
Words by Kim Hudson