WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump is apparently not a fan of Oscar winner “Parasite,” his biggest complaint being that the movie was made in South Korea.
Trump started talking about the Academy Awards during a campaign rally in Colorado Springs, Colorado, on Thursday. “Parasite” was named best picture, the first non-English-language film to get the top honor.
"What the hell was that all about?" Trump said. "We've got enough problems with South Korea with trade. On top of that, they give them best movie of the year. Was it good? I don't know."
Neon, the U.S. distributor for the subtitled film, shot back on Twitter: “Understandable. He can’t read.”
Meanwhile, Trump praised decades-old Hollywood movies, one of which took place at the time of U.S. slavery. The audience booed when Trump mentioned the Academy Awards and then cheered when he said: "Can we get like 'Gone with the Wind' back please? 'Sunset Boulevard,' so many great movies."
“Parasite” tells the story of how a family of four poor, unemployed people living in a slum basement apartment comically infiltrates a wealthy family residing at a luxurious mansion before things unravel violently and tragically.
The movie made history Feb. 9, the first South Korean film to win in the international film category, and the first foreign language film to win best picture. The wins put a diverse film front-and-center during a ceremony that had been criticized for its lack of diversity in several categories, with only one actor of color nominated and no women recognized in the directing category.
Those omissions came amid efforts by both the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, which hosts the Oscars, and the broader industry to have more diversity in its films and filmmakers. Known for liberal leanings, Hollywood is a regular target of Trump's conservative base.
Many have seen the best picture win as a sign that the film industry will become more global, a shift that's already playing out in box-office receipts. Before the coronavirus outbreak, it was expected that China would become the world's No. 1 film market, surpassing North America.
Trump has a record of criticizing Asian leaders, particularly South Korea's, going so far as to mock them with a fake Asian accent.
Meanwhile, "Gone with the Wind" shot to No. 1 among topics trending on Twitter Thursday night. The 1939 antebellum epic, based on Margaret Mitchell's novel, follows belle Scarlett O'Hara at her Georgia plantation home as the South braces for the Civil War. The movie went on to become a hit and snagged eight Academy Awards, including best picture.
But in the last few decades, the movie has been criticized for its romanticized portrayal of slavery, with its main characters oblivious to the horrors experienced by those kept in bondage.
The film has a complicated history in Hollywood — Hattie McDaniel became the first African American performer to win an Oscar. She won the supporting actress award for her portrayal of Mammy, an oft-criticized character. McDaniel was criticized by the NAACP for frequently playing maids onscreen. At the time, she defended herself and said she often was able to influence directors into toning down or omitting racist elements.
For the film's 75th anniversary in 2014, Warner Bros. included in a home video re-release a 30-minute documentary that candidly assessed the film's shortcomings and how Mammy's status as a slave is ignored.
The re-assessment of the film hasn't waned. Memphis' Orpheum Theatre in 2017 ended its annual screenings of it after 34 years, saying it could no longer "show a film that is insensitive to a large segment of its local population."
Associated Press writers Anthony McCartney in Los Angeles and Terry Tang in Phoenix contributed to this report.