PDA

View Full Version : Would seing the US president humiliated in a story generate a negative reaction?



bob88
05-29-2012, 10:22 AM
No special expertise needed, just a simple survey:

I'm writing about a futuristic world, where all the countries are united under one federal system. The world has a single leader, elected democratically, and the country's president is a merely symbolic position, much like many kings and queens in our times.

The question is: would it bother you seeing the US president humiliated by this international leader? It's not a vital part of the story, just something that adds a little flavor, so there's no big problem in cutting it out. The question is whether such scene would generate a negative reaction.

Thanks in advance :)

Mac H.
05-29-2012, 10:43 AM
There's a great scene in 'Love Actually' which does this exact thing.

The film had a box office take of around a quarter of a billion dollars - so it's fairly safe to say that it can work quite well as a plot device.

Mac

fireluxlou
05-29-2012, 10:49 AM
Well you should watch Charlie Brooker's TV series Black Mirror.

In the 1st episode:


The first programme is a 44 minute long political thriller in which fictional Prime Minister Michael Callow faces a huge and shocking dilemma when fictional Princess Susannah, a much-loved member of the Royal Family, is kidnapped. For her safe return, the Prime Minister must have sexual intercourse with a pig on national television.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Black_Mirror_(TV_series)

bob88
05-29-2012, 10:56 AM
For her safe return, the Prime Minister must have sexual intercourse with a pig on national television.

Wow. Just WOW :Jaw:

DancingMaenid
05-29-2012, 10:59 AM
I put that I don't care, but it's kind of hard to answer this because it depends a lot on context and what sort of negative reaction you're talking about. I don't have any sort of patriotic aversion to the thought of a president being humiliated, if that's what you're asking. I'm not automatically offended by seeing America or our leaders made fun of, as long as it doesn't come across as sanctimonious or prejudiced.

Presidents are people, and that's how I see them. If this was a fictional president, my reaction would depend on how I felt about him as a character and the situation in the story. Not his political role.

bob88
05-29-2012, 11:10 AM
If this was a fictional president, my reaction would depend on how I felt about him as a character and the situation in the story. Not his political role.

It's a fictional president, but this is his first and only appearance, so there's no much character to feel something for. He isn't even mentioned by name. It's just there to "show not tell" who's running the world.

fireluxlou
05-29-2012, 11:26 AM
Wow. Just WOW :Jaw:

It was a great episode and a great TV show on the commentary of modern media and culture. Second episode was the best.

Chasing the Horizon
05-29-2012, 12:13 PM
Unless I cared about the president as a character, it wouldn't really evoke much reaction in me.

Becky Black
05-29-2012, 03:13 PM
It would probably generate a more negative reaction (or in some cases a positive one!) if the President in the story was a thinly digused version of a real President. The people who liked that guy will be narked. Of course if you're going for satire and intend to mock a particular president in fictional form, then go for it. But if that's not your intention, make sure the character is distinctly not President Bush, or President Obama or whoever.

Some readers may still be annoyed anyway, feeling the disrespect to the office as well as the person, but that's a legitimate reaction, just as a positive one "Yeah! Stick it to the man!" would be.

You have limited control over how people react to things in your story. You can write it to try to evoke a particular reaction, but can't be sure all readers will all feel that way.

Snick
05-29-2012, 04:50 PM
Most American presidents make fools of themselves and embarrass the American people, so what would be new of different about a president being humiliated?

Alpha Echo
05-29-2012, 05:02 PM
I put that I don't care, but it's kind of hard to answer this because it depends a lot on context and what sort of negative reaction you're talking about. I don't have any sort of patriotic aversion to the thought of a president being humiliated, if that's what you're asking. I'm not automatically offended by seeing America or our leaders made fun of, as long as it doesn't come across as sanctimonious or prejudiced.

Presidents are people, and that's how I see them. If this was a fictional president, my reaction would depend on how I felt about him as a character and the situation in the story. Not his political role.

Kinda this. My initial reaction was "no." But it would really depend on how you portrayed the POTUS. If he or she is a total ass, well, then yes. I would love to see him or her humiliated.

But if the POTUS is a good person...

Regardless, if it's written well, I guess in the end I don't care. I may be upset to read it, I may be satisfied. It doesn't mean I didn't enjoy the story.

I guess, I should have voted "I don't care."

Orion11Bravo
05-29-2012, 05:07 PM
If anything I feel as though it would unify the American people against the Emperor. Imagine how well it would go over if the British Prime Minister humiliated the Queen.

lorna_w
05-29-2012, 05:17 PM
in the scenario you described, not a whit.

and in the real world, I've lived through Nixon's enemies tapes and his middle-school cursing and pouting on them, Gerald Ford tripping down airplane stairs, the first Bush puking on a Japanese leader, semen-stained dresses, the second Bush making grammatical mistakes and apparently thinking Mexico and Canada share a border...honey, I'm American. Humiliated President is pretty much a given.

RichardGarfinkle
05-29-2012, 05:20 PM
There have been rather a lot of books with fictional presidents humiliated. Some of them are considered classics. Some are even children's books.

Charlie and the Great Glass Elevator by Roald Dahl (sequel to Charlie and the Chocolate Factory) contains a nitwit president (who might be a parody of LBJ it's hard to say). The president is under the thumb of his Vice President who used to be his nanny and still treats him as a child.

This is not an extreme form of humiliation, but it shows the casual disrespect for the office of president that Americans often find in fiction.

Buffysquirrel
05-30-2012, 03:36 PM
Imagine how well it would go over if the British Prime Minister humiliated the Queen.

Happens regularly. It's called The Queen's Speech.

bearilou
05-30-2012, 03:51 PM
My initial reaction is yes, it would generate a negative reaction. But I also have an aversion to public humiliation in any form.

If the President/World Leader is a raging asshole and needs to be brought low for the good of all...well...hard to say. I'm still tripping over the public humiliation aversion reaction in me. It really bothers me, whether it's deserved or not.

Kenn
05-30-2012, 06:41 PM
I think it depends.

If the president is arrogant, then schadenfreude would be widespread (serves him right!). If, however, he is an inoffensive or fatherly figure and it's the elected leader who is the cocky one (and let's face it, this describes the vast majority of politicians!), then there would be outrage.

Fins Left
05-30-2012, 06:56 PM
I can tell you that, as a prior-military member who is fed up with the POTUS bashing, I had a strong visceral negative reaction to your thread title.

There are plenty of ways to show that the US President doesn't hold power on the global scene without having to introduce him/her just to "humiliate" them. This is what I can see:

White+him = Bush
Black+him = Obama
Her = Palin

So you won't be able to avoid those comparisons. Also, since when has humiliation equated to no holding power? If I recall, our Presidents have been caught boffing in the oval office, have puked on world leaders, have had shoes thrown in countries where that is a significant statement.... so, I don't see humiliation as a sign of no longer having power. Crap, look at the whole GOP field this time around. Clearly, public humiliation is not an issue for politicians.

fadeaccompli
05-30-2012, 07:33 PM
My initial reaction is yes, it would generate a negative reaction. But I also have an aversion to public humiliation in any form.

If the President/World Leader is a raging asshole and needs to be brought low for the good of all...well...hard to say. I'm still tripping over the public humiliation aversion reaction in me. It really bothers me, whether it's deserved or not.

This is pretty much my reaction. I loathe scenes of public humiliation, and I loathe them even more when as a reader I'm expected to enjoy them as some sort of come-uppance for misdeeds. About the only time public humiliation scenes don't make me cringe are when they're presented as something terrible happening to a sympathetic character, because at least then my deep discomfort is supported by the text.

Whether it's the president of the United States or the local Philologists Club has nothing to do with it.

Buffysquirrel
05-30-2012, 08:46 PM
I read the post title and clicked No. I think I should have clicked Yes. I'm with the loathing to see people humiliated camp. Apparently though I am not with the reading things carefully camp.

Cath
05-30-2012, 09:02 PM
I've amended the title to be closer to what you're actually asking.

ironmikezero
05-30-2012, 09:17 PM
Deliberately humiliating politicians of any stripe (in fiction, at any rate) tends to be rather boring, primarily because in the real world they seem to be rather adept at accomplishing the same thing of their own volition, often with the consummate skill of blind verve. Politics can be the entertainment equivalent of professional wrestling.

quicklime
05-30-2012, 10:16 PM
There's a great scene in 'Love Actually' which does this exact thing.

The film had a box office take of around a quarter of a billion dollars - so it's fairly safe to say that it can work quite well as a plot device.

Mac


was it "the Sum of All Fears" that was the Clancy book where the pres got smacked down for a covert bit of retribution, as well?

the prez getting humiliated, in pretty much any form of the word, is nothing new to fiction.

StephanieFox
05-31-2012, 09:12 PM
As long as your character isn't obviously a recent real president, I don't think anyone would care. We vote 'em in and we vote 'em out, make fun of them at every turn and then forget about them. I mean, who out there can tell us anything about Pres. Chester A. Arthur?

Dave Hardy
06-01-2012, 01:07 AM
Maybe the question is what do you, the author, WANT your readers to feel? That scenario could be played for a laugh, or it could be meant to sting national pride, or make you feel sorry for the pres as an individual, or even to make readers feel the pres got some just deserts. I'm pretty much willing to go along for the ride whichever direction you choose.

Stijn Hommes
06-02-2012, 01:00 AM
No. After the point where you mentioned a futuristic world, I stopped seeing any issues. It's clearly fiction, so it doesn't directly affect any real presidents.