American Chaos (2018)

Great personal travelogue about one irate Democrat’s journey to understand the 2016 election result. Essentially an extended video diary, this features Chicagoan James Stern criss-crossing the country to seek out the fabled ‘Trumpland’ of America, where the voters James cannot believe actually exist, live. It’s a fun road trip. Stern’s scathing contempt and utter confusion about what is happening in the country is entertaining and also instructive. Of course, his mission into red states ends with insights that he didn’t expect.

It’s also just a fabulous document of the atmosphere of the country outside of LA and the East Coast beltway in the run-up to the election. Stern is a winsome and articulate host and it is fun watching him engaging with what for many Americans is simply ‘reality’.

Stern has also collected some really wonderful interviews here that will last the test of time. They are pure Americana, and add up to an enjoyable and laid-back snapshot of the country in 2016. Putting all these highly distinctive, personal, divergent and colorful opinions about the two candidates together also makes up a profound meditation on the temperature of the country on the eve of the momentous election. Viewing this documentary now four years later above all it seems to offer a gentle invitation for all Americans finally to find some common ground and to make their peace with the democratic will of the American people as a whole, and maybe get on with life!

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