Trump decries selection of ‘Parasite’ as best picture

  • >>Michael Levenson, The New York Times
    Published: 2020-02-21 11:32:19 BdST

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President Donald Trump speaks during a campaign rally at The Broadmoor World Arena in Colorado Springs, Colo, Thursday, Feb 20, 2020. The New York Times

President Donald Trump delivered a nationalistic cultural rant at his rally in Colorado on Thursday night, veering off script to attack the Academy Awards for giving the Best Picture Oscar to a South Korean film, “Parasite.”

“How bad were the Academy Awards this year?” the president said, throwing up his hands as the crowd roared at his rally in Colorado Springs. “Did you see? And the winner is a movie from South Korea. What the hell was that all about?”

“Parasite,” the acclaimed thriller by Bong Joon Ho about class tensions boiling over in a wealthy family’s home, this month became the first film not in the English language to win the Academy Award for best picture in the 92-year history of the competition.

The film also won best director, original screenplay and international feature, marking a moment of pride for many Asian Americans and a turning point in the academy’s long history of embracing stories told by white filmmakers.

Trump, however, was clearly not impressed.

“We’ve got enough problems with South Korea, with trade,” he said. “On top of it, they give them the best movie of the year? Was it good? I don’t know.”

Trump expressed nostalgia for Hollywood films from a bygone era.

“Let’s get ‘Gone With the Wind.’ Can we get, like, ‘Gone With the Wind’ back, please?” he said, lauding the 1939 romantic saga set in the South around the Civil War, which won a host of Academy Awards, including best picture.

He also mentioned “Sunset Boulevard,” the 1950 Billy Wilder film noir, which was nominated for best picture but did not win. (It won in other categories.)

“So many great movies,” Trump said. “The winner is from South Korea. I thought it was best foreign film, right? Best foreign movie. No. Did this ever happen before?”

Hollywood and the Academy Awards have long been a favourite target for Republicans who decry the film industry as a bastion of liberalism. And the awards ceremony this year featured speeches by celebrities attacking Trump.

In his rally, Trump singled out for particular criticism Brad Pitt, who had referred to Trump’s impeachment trial in the Senate when accepting his award this year for best supporting actor for “Once Upon a Time … in Hollywood.”

“They told me I only have 45 seconds up here, which is 45 seconds more than the Senate gave John Bolton this week,” Pitt said in his speech.

Firing back at his rally, Trump said he was “never a fan” of Pitt and added that the actor “got up and said a little wise-guy statement.”

“He’s a little wise guy,” Trump said.

Trump’s attack on “Parasite” prompted a response from the Democratic National Committee.

“Parasite is a foreign movie about how oblivious the ultrarich are about the struggles of the working class, and it requires two hours of reading subtitles,” the committee wrote on Twitter. “Of course Trump hates it.”

Neon, the independent film distributor behind “Parasite,” also responded to Trump’s broadside with an acid reference to the movie’s English subtitles.

“Understandable,” the company wrote on Twitter. “He can’t read.”

© 2020 New York Times News Service