President Trump's nuclear summit with North Korean dictator Kim Jong-un was nothing if not surreal. So how could it not have included a fake movie trailer in the style of "totalitarian kitsch," which Trump showed Kim in an attempt to convince him to trade his nuclear capabilities for a future North Korea that is open and prosperous? With over-the-top corny imagery and an In a World... narration, Trump's schlocky cinematic olive branch was a product of our times:
To season the subplot, it appears the Trump administration made up a production company for the video just to drive home the Hollywood shtick. Except there already is a "Destiny Pictures" out in L.A., whose founder was forced to explain to reporters that his firm had nothing to do with its production. Instead, Trump's National Security Council reportedly produced the video, though some speculate it could have had at least some input from our allies in South Korea.
That production has enjoyed mixed reviews from critics, who in this case are experts in political communication, North Korea, propaganda, totalitarianism, and international diplomacy. The New York Times tallied up some reactions, which ranged from "this might actually work" to "this is a joke that Kim might even find insulting." Ultimately, though, you get the feeling there's only ever been one critic who matters.
"The trailer was the Trump administration trying to speak to Kim Jong-un the way the administration speaks to Donald Trump," said James Poniewozik, the Times’ chief television critic. The film certainly seemed to speak to Trump:
Mr. Trump said Mr. Kim “loved it” when it was shown to him. “That was a version of what could happen, what could take place,” the president told reporters. “As an example, they have great beaches. You see that whenever they’re exploding their cannons into the ocean, right? I said, ‘Boy, look at the view. Wouldn’t that make a great condo behind?’”
There's not much indication that the trailer got things over the line at the summit, which produced an agreement in which no party really commits to anything-but which our president is feting as an unadulterated diplomatic coup:
Just landed - a long trip, but everybody can now feel much safer than the day I took office. There is no longer a Nuclear Threat from North Korea. Meeting with Kim Jong Un was an interesting and very positive experience. North Korea has great potential for the future!- Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) June 13, 2018
That there is "no longer a nuclear threat" will be news to North Korea, which hasn't agreed to give up its capabilities. Perhaps we'll need another trailer to explain that one.
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