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Frontline’s ‘Bannon’s War’ Explores His Fascination With Destruction

”There’s an almost fetishistic desire to see everything blow up,“ one critic says

On this season of “Saturday Night Life,” White House strategist Steve Bannon has appeared as the Grim Reaper. There’s a lot of comic license there, but one of the people interviewed for Frontline’s new film, “Bannon’s War,” says his interest in destruction is real.

Frontline notes that before Bannon worked in the White House, he made a film about a supposedly imminent apocalyptic war called “Generation Zero.”

“There’s an almost fetishistic desire to see everything blow up,” The Washington Post’s Ann Hornaday tells Frontline in the clip, above.

Bannon was inspired by “The Fourth Turning,” a book by William Strauss and Neil Howe. Their theory is that history plays out in cycles that can predict the next wave of disaster.

According to this theory, the world is due for a crisis. “History is seasonal, and winter is coming. The risk of catastrophe will be very high,” says the book. “The nation could erupt into insurrection or civil violence, crack up geographically, or succumb to authoritarian rule.”

Bannon’s film, which features explosions and crumbling buildings, is focused on the 2007-08 financial crisis. One newspaper described it as a “horror film” about the United States economy. Bannon told the Richmond Times-Dispatch that the film is meant to inspire fear.

“Fear is a good thing. Fear is going to lead you to take action,” he said in 2010.

Historian David Kaiser told Frontline about a phone call he once received from Bannon. “One part of the conversation that I vividly remember is about the possibility of a huge war comparable in scope to the second World War,” Kaiser says. “This was something that he clearly believed was likely to occur. He wanted me to say on camera that I thought it was likely to occur.”

Frontline’s “Bannon’s War” appears on PBS tonight at 10/9c.