The Observer view on Donald Trump’s criticism of the film Parasite

Observer editorial
Photograph: Valérie Macon/AFP via Getty Images

It is easy to imagine why Donald Trump might not enjoy Parasite, a film in which members of a desperate underclass attempt to improve their lot, toppling the glossy, flash lives of their rich employers.

And last week, the 45th president indeed took two opportunities to pour scorn on the Bong Joon-ho hit, the first foreign language film to scoop the top prize at the Oscars.

Addressing his supporters in Colorado, Trump asked: “What the hell was that all about?” and then randomly called for a return to awards for “so many great movies” of the past, such as Gone With the Wind or Sunset Boulevard.

In Las Vegas on Friday, he took another run at the South Korean film, throwing in a fresh attack on Brad Pitt, who’s not in it, for good measure.

But it turns out it is not the content of Parasite that Trump objects to. He hasn’t actually seen it. “Was it good? I don’t know,” he said in Colorado.

If the US president simply wants a winner that sounds good to him, we can surely guess at his favourites. Certainly, Big, starring Tom Hanks, would be up there. Trump loves that word. Other eclectic nominees would include the 2000 teen comedy Loser, A Clockwork Orange, Pink Floyd’s The Wall, Orson Welles’s quixotic F for Fake and on a more positive note, reflecting his own self-esteem, the Russell Crowe film A Beautiful Mind.

These films make a fantastically strange line-up, but are perhaps no odder than Trump’s own choices. Gone With the Wind, powerful story though it was, glamorised the imperilled and racially divided south, while Sunset Boulevard is a dark and masterly study of the mental decline brought on by the corrosive effects of fame and money.

Of course, ideally the president would not want to see Pitt in the cast of any best film. But, given his new obsession with pushing for a total of a dozen years in the White House, breaking with constitutional convention, perhaps he might allow the actor to keep his 2014 producer’s Oscar for 12 Years a Slave.