Watch (?): Donald Trump’s “Action-Movie Style Trailer,” Shown to Kim Jong-un, Ostensibly For Diplomatic Purposes
I have written before about the remarkably shoddy aesthetics of the videos put out by Team Trump, and I’m not the only one to have noticed: last year, over at The Outline, Tolulope Edionwe wrote a sharp post about “the iMovie president.” The whole post is worth reading, but this assessment rings particularly true: “This has become a pattern for Trump: poorly-edited digital content in which serious and significant subjects are given bad color treatments, low resolution, and carelessly incorrect accoutrements.”
In the Ernest Goes to Pyongyang reality which we are on course to enter shortly, our lawfully elected president (or whatever) Donald John Trump arrived in Singapore (after Dennis Rodman, no less) to meet with Kim Jong-un, with the ultimate goal of producing a completely meaningless statement about de-nuclearization which is not verifiable or significant in any way. He tweeted, with the enthusiasm of a misguided middle manager, about how Meetings will change the world, which he does a lot. “The fact that I am having a meeting is a major loss for the U.S., say the haters & losers.” Napoleon conquered the continent, but not before a conference call.
We know that Kim Jong-un’s father, the late Kin Jong-li, was a cinephile of sorts: he had 20,000 VHSs but his favorite movies apparently included Friday the 13th, so I guess wide viewing doesn’t automatically lead to refinement of personal preference. (And let’s not even get started on Kim Jong-li’s classic treatise on Juche ideology in the medium of motion pictures, as expressed in 1973’s On the Art of the Cinema. I wonder how he would have felt about the importance of graphics in documentaries.) So I suppose it makes sense that the Trump media team assumed his son would respond well to some kind of cinematic prodding. I suppose.
What Kim Jong-un was shown is a nightmare primarily composed of lo-res library footage. 11 seconds in, the voice actor doing the narration informs us that “only the very few will make decisions or take actions that renew their homeland,” which a) if that doesn’t sound like a DPRK press release, I don’t know what does b) is shown over footage that cuts from a presumably North Korean orchestra to a young lady wearing a VR headset. The path forward for diplomacy is future-facing, the empathy machine will de-nuclearize us. At another point, the narrator speaks of opening “the doors of opportunity” over a stock shot of, yes, doors being opened. There is a title card crediting this to “Destiny Films” and an insert shot of a basketball player dunking, as well as an oddly anachronistic emphasis on celluloid: the film, like historical destiny, gets caught and burns in the gate before a countdown opens up the next reel. Maybe it’s a Bruce Conner homage?
If there is a future, and the archivists arrive to unpack the visual baggage of this administration, perhaps they will find a hard drive. Perhaps nobody’s booted it in a while, so the disk tries to whirr and then gives up, and these graduate students—looking to understand the Trump Era through found objects and archival footage—will be denied a crucial text. But if they boot it up, they’ll discover something that looks like a Siemens commercial which curdles into a parody of Koyaanisqatsi, only less plausible.