South Korean film Parasite made history after it won Best Picture at the 2020 Oscars, becoming the first foreign-language film ever to do so. While the win was welcomed by most, one man who is not impressed is the President himself, Donald Trump, who addressed the issue in his typically blunt manner at a re-election rally in Colorado Springs.
"And the winner is a movie from South Korea! What the hell was that all about? We 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. And I'm looking for, like... Let's get Gone With the Wind? Can we get, like, 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, it was the- this never happened before."
Trump's feelings are in line with his past mantra of 'America first', and the importance of placing home-grown products above foreign imports. It seems the president would have been okay if Parasite had won the best foreign film award. It was the fact that the movie won an award that has gone almost exclusively to American films in the past that he finds particularly galling. The studio behind Parasite didn't wait long to respond, Tweeting out a response that straight out says why Trump didn't like the movie.
While the reception to Parasite in the west has been overwhelmingly positive among critics, the general public is less familiar with the feature, in keeping with earlier trends when American audiences have shown little interest in watching movies which require subtitles. But Parasite's best picture Oscar also boosted its profile among general audiences, with online sites reporting greater interest among western netizens in streaming or downloading the movie following its win.
Apart from winning Best picture, Parasite also netted its director Bong Joon-ho the Oscar for best direction. During a moving acceptance speech, Bong Joon-ho thanked American filmmakers like Martin Scorsese and Quentin Tarantino for inspiring him to become a filmmaker.
Parasite's win might rub those the wrong way who wish to have the Oscars be a strictly American affair, but it comes at a critical time for Hollywood in general, which is battling greater criticisms than ever for ignoring the works of people of color. Aside from Parasite, no other film that was nominated for an Oscar in 2020 was by a woman or a person of color, a problem that was acknowledged by the people behind the ceremony.
Moving forward, most top production companies in Hollywood have expressed their desire to make a conscious effort to represent movies made by and featuring more diverse casts and crew, in addition to working with international filmmaking powerhouses like the Korean film industry to tell more universal stories.
As much as Donald Trump wants things in Hollywood to return to the days of Gone with the Wind, that is simply not the direction that the American film industry wants to go in from now on. Claudie Koerner offers this insight from Twitter.