Movies

Should We Worry About Donald Trump’s Favorite Films?

By  · Published on November 29th, 2016

Dear FSR

Citizen Kane in the streets, Bloodsport in the sheets.

At some point in your life, you’ve likely been faced with a question that has no solid answer. Some people may take such a puzzle to a trusted confidant, a friendly pastor, or the esteemed annals of Yahoo! Answers. But will they have the expertise needed to solve your most pressing film predicaments?

Think of Dear FSR as an impartial arbiter for all your film concerns. Boyfriend texting while you’re trying to show him your most precious Ozu? What’s the best way to confront the guy who snuck that pungent curry into your cramped theater? This is an advice column for film fans, by a film fan.

Dear FSR,

I’m concerned about Donald Trump. Surprising, right? But what about his favorite movies? Did they warn us in any way about what kind of crazy we were gonna get? Are there indicators that if someone likes a certain movie they’ll be a certain way? This is pure curiosity and also – maybe – to help me avoid certain personalities when online dating.

From,

Tennessee Taste Tester

Dear Taste Tester,

In a 1992 interview with The New York Times, Donald Trump said Citizen Kane is his all-time favorite movie. Shrugging off the similarities between his own life and that of the movie (and that of the movie’s real-life inspiration William Randolph Hearst) he said, “I see no analogy between the two.”

Trump then added something a bit less widely acclaimed to his top list in 1997. Riding along in the mogul’s private jet, Mark Singer profiled Donald Trump for The New Yorker, uncovering that one of Trump’s favorite movies is Jean-Claude Van Damme’s Bloodsport.

After pooh-poohing John Travolta’s angelic Michael, Trump popped in a well-worn VHS copy of, what he called, “an incredible, fantastic movie”: Bloodsport. He fast-forwarded through all the plot, the dialogue – you know, all the stuff that makes a movie a movie – to get right to the knuckle-busting, nose-crushing, nad-whacking fight scenes. His son Eric was on remote duty, zipping through all the boring parts to find the efficient brutality that was Trump’s goal. A feature film became half an hour of ball-kicking. Trump, realizing the journalist accompanying him was also laughing, preemptively struck with “You want to write that Donald Trump was loving this ridiculous Jean Claude Van Damme movie, but are you willing to put in there that you were loving it, too?”

The calculation that would come with his later picks for favorite film slips out here. He likes what he likes (namely, dudes bashing on dudes) but by God if he likes it, YOU better like it to. You’re no better than him. By skipping everything but the ’80s meat grind at the center of the film, it seems likely that Trump would watch some bootlegged snuff films just as enjoyably. They’d be shorter, too.

Maybe he likes the camp, but skipping choice dialogue like “I ain’t your pal, dickface” or “What’s the difference if Bruce Springsteen is his shidoshi?” argues against that. When his entertainment choices were on a national stage to be judged, Trump had a few different films to talk about.

Falling back on Citizen Kane in his May interview with Megyn Kelly, Trump’s narcissism makes the film a superficial celebration that he simply doesn’t have the insight to pierce. The film’s rich heir protagonist is a reflection of the shallow, slimy profiteer William Randolph Hearst and it seems the corrupting influence of vast wealth hasn’t changed much in the last century. Aimed as a fable against this sort of behavior and ambition, it’s hard to see Trump reading it as anything but a movie he heard was one of the best. I’d like to hear his opinion of The Wolf of Wall Street.

His other favorite films, taken from a BBC article, include The Good, the Bad and the Ugly, The Godfather, Goodfellas, and Gone with the Wind. It’s like he had his assistant look up the top movies on IMDb and picked the ones he thought would play well with his audience. Manly movies about things like strong families that commit crimes (but we’re still on their side) and a Confederate romance. You can almost hear him rejecting other possible films as they’re suggested for him down the IMDb Top 100 (“Shawshank?” “Co-stars a black guy.” “Pulp Fiction” “Same thing.” “Schindler’s List?” “Goes against policy”).

I’m not saying Trump’s film tastes are completely calculated to appeal to the lowest common denominator of his voting base, but I’m saying his publicly stated ones are. All but Bloodsport, which I definitely believe. To take it back to your question, if you meet someone that says they love reading and lists the Bible as their favorite book (which Trump did) and then actually reads nothing – or flips through novels to find the sex and violence – you should probably be wary.

Yours in praying for a recount,

FSR

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Jacob Oller writes everywhere (Vanity Fair, The Guardian, Playboy, FSR, Paste, etc.) about everything that matters (film, TV, video games, memes, life).