Sunday, February 23, 2020

Trump v Parasite

I was watching President Donald Trump’s speech last week when, as per Trump’s usual off the cuff rip-from-the-headlines remarks, he brought up the Academy Awards. Ah ha, I thought. And there it was, “And the winner is... a movie from South Korea! What the (expletive) was that all that about? We've got enough problems with South Korea, with trade. On top of that, they give them the best movie of the year. Was it good? I don't know. Let's get 'Gone with the Wind' back, please? 'Sunset Boulevard.' So many great movies.” The studio that made the film, Neon, predictably shot back, “Understandable, he can't read,” a supposed reference to the fact the movie had English subtitles and of course, as per stereotype, Trump is dumb. (Let me tell you how many people I know, even those who supposedly like films, who have trouble with subtitles. I don’t get it, I’ve never had any problem and sometimes think movies with subtitles are better.) But the studio's jokingly defensive response misses the mark. Trump wasn’t criticizing  Parasite (a movie I thought was unexceptional and hardly deserving of Best Picture) per se but a few things generally. Remember: Trump is an Everyman American. Fact is the vast majority of “regular” people (ie., non-cineastes) have never seen Parasite nor know anything about it; the same as Trump. The second is that, indeed, where are the current films made in the great classic American tradition? Trump critics lambasted him for picking Gone with the Wind, which they suggested was racist. Huh? Gone with the Wind is one of the greatest movies of all time and depicts the fall of the Antebellum South and its antiquated and oppressive system of slavery. And Trump also picked Sunset Boulevard - is that racist? If Trump made any slight it was towards the fact Parasite was from South Korea. In my books, I couldn’t care less if the Oscars Best Picture was from South Korea, Madagascar or the good ol' USA, so long as it’s worthy of the award. 


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