Filmmaker Anthony Baxter on how elitist billionaires are destroying the environment in the name of golf
Here in the United States, Donald Trump gets a lot of flak for the many, many things you can hardly believe he said: claiming that a cold day disproves the reality of global warming, for example, or, more recently, declaring that most Mexican immigrants are “rapists.”
Trump’s no less loathed in Scotland. There, however, the problem is less about what Trump says, and more about what he’s actually done — run roughshod over protected dunes to build an elite golf course, attack an offshore wind energy project because it “ruined” his view, cajole politicians into supporting his every whim. He’s also run into trouble for the promises he’s failed to keep — when the deal ultimately went sour, he flew off in his private jet, leaving behind none of the economic prosperity he’d sworn the project would create. His fate as one of the country’s top villains was sealed with Anthony Baxter’s 2011 documentary, “You’ve Been Trumped,” which documented a saga so egregious it inspired a folk song, and made such waves that Trump finally agreed to sit down with Baxter on camera.
That interview could be read as the climax of Baxter’s newest documentary, “A Dangerous Game,” which picks up where the last left off. But Trump knows how to hold his own against angry activists — or, at least, he knows how to deflect their questions. With no evidence to back himself up, he explains at one point that he himself is a “great environmentalist.” The film’s more alarming revelation is that it’s not just Trump: elitist billionaires, in Baxter’s telling, have co-opted golf, creating vast artificial environments for play that strain local resources and shut out all but the wealthy, and which all too often subvert democracy. This plays out as tragedy in Dubrovnik, Croatia — a World Heritage Site — where residents’ efforts to keep out a golf resort result in the passing of a local referendum with an 84 percent majority, only to see the project green-lighted anyway.
Salon spoke with Baxter about the golf industry’s need to embrace a more sustainable model, and about his continued pursuit of America’s would-be 45th president. This interview has been lightly edited for clarity.