President Trump has long loathed the Academy Awards, viewing the ceremony as a teeming hive of the Hollywood elites who have categorically rejected him (except for Jon Voight).
But he has a predictable new gripe with this year’s Oscars, which he aired Thursday night during a rally in Colorado. Trump wasn’t happy that a foreign film, South Korean director Bong Joon-ho’s Parasite, won the top prize.
“How bad were the Academy Awards this year? Did you see?” Trump said. “And the winner is … a movie from South Korea. What the hell was that all about? We’ve got enough problems with South Korea, with trade. On top of it they give them the best movie of the year. Was it good? I don’t know.”
“Let’s get Gone with the Wind,” Trump continued. “Can we get Gone With the Wind back, please? Sunset Boulevard. So many great movies. The winner is … from South Korea! I thought it was best foreign film, right? Best foreign movie. No. Did this ever happen before? And then you have Brad Pitt. I was never a big fan of his. He got up and said some little wise-guy stuff. He’s a little wise guy. He’s a little wise guy.”
Pitt, who won Best Supporting Actor for his role in Once Upon a Time … in Hollywood, began his acceptance speech with a joke about how former national security adviser John Bolton should have been allowed to testify during the Senate impeachment trial, which wrapped up days before the Oscars.
The crowd in Colorado booed lustily at the mention of both Parasite and Pitt. This isn’t surprising. Trump’s anger at both is essentially what got him elected. America is not America (i.e. white) anymore, he’s brayed ad nauseam, and Hollywood, the media and everyone else who may disagree with him are the enemies.
Has Trump even seen Gone With the Wind? Have the people in the audience who cheered its mention seen it? It doesn’t matter. The film is a totem from the racially homogenized mid-century America the president and his supporters think they can reclaim. He could have just as easily said apple pie or station wagons in its place and it would have had the same effect.
Trump does seem to be a fan of classic movies, though. In 2016, Tim O’Brien recounted for Bloomberg Opinion the time he watched Sunset Boulevard on a plane with the future president. Following the iconic scene in which silent-film star Norma Desmond complains about being ignored after the advent of talkies, Trump leaned over to O’Brien. “Is this an incredible scene or what?” he whispered. “Just incredible.”
Gone With the Wind, a four-hour romance epic, may have been a little more difficult for Trump to enjoy. According to a 1997 feature in The New Yorker, he couldn’t even make it through Bloodsport, the Jean Claude Van Damme fighting classic, without fast-forwarding through all of the parts that did not include JCVD beating the face of a lesser-than fighter on his way to winning the Kumite.
Trump has claimed his favorite movie is Citizen Kane, Orson Welles’ 1941 opus about an egomaniacal, success-obsessed media mogul who decides to run for political office before ultimately ending up alone and unhappy in his Florida mansion. The film is a cautionary tale about how wealth corrupts and the empty promise of the American Dream. Trump has said it’s his favorite movie, but his response when Errol Morris asked him whether he would have given the titular character any advice indicates he may not have understood the point.
“Get yourself a different woman,” Trump said.
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