President Donald Trump's diplomatic strategy for a high-stakes summit with Kim Jong Un in Singapore on Tuesday included a "bonkers movie-trailer/reality-show video" produced by the White House that presents the pair as heroes and which Trump said he played for his North Korean counterpart and several members of his delegation on an iPad.
"We had it made up. I showed it to him today, actually during the meeting, toward the end of the meeting and I think he loved it," the president revealed at a news conference where the fake film trailer was also screened for reporters. "I showed it because I really want him to do something."
While many found the short video entertaining, it makes clear that the Trump administration believes that in terms of the prolonged conflict between the United States and North Korea, as the unidentified narrator explicitly states, "There can only be two results." Presenting Kim "with one chance that may never be repeated," the video depicts one future that involves war planes and artillery, then urges Kim to choose the second option.
"Be part of that world, where the doors of opportunity are ready to be opened—investment from around the world, where you can have medical breakthroughs, an abundance of resources, innovative technology, and new discoveries," the narrator says, as footage of assembly lines, hospital equipment, beach-side high-rises, and a person dunking a basketball flashes across the screen. "A new story, a new beginning. One of peace. Two men, two leaders, one destiny."
Peace advocates cautiously welcomed the joint agreement signed by Trump and Kim as a result of the talks, but the video—which is also available with a Korean voiceover—elicited widespread disbelief and amusement.
The Trump-Kim Jong Un fake movie trailer includes:
A studio vanity card
Shots of main characters looking hopeful and heroic
Black and white footage to suggest dark tidings
A literal countdownhttps://t.co/S3XejMOdYk
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— BuzzFeed News (@BuzzFeedNews) June 12, 2018
"Seriously, have you ever seen something this f'ing strange, let alone something produced by the White House?!" commented Win Without War director Stephen Miles.
In a world where everything is batshit crazy, can one thing be the batshit craziest of all? https://t.co/9OIK0kz9um
— Lisa Tozzi (@lisatozzi) June 12, 2018
"There are too many WTF moments in this to single out," tweeted New York Times television critic James Poniewozik.
There are too many WTF moments in this to single out, but the segue at ~2:44 from wild horses charging through water to Sly Stallone in the Oval Office is just *chef's kiss* https://t.co/Q30SgjdMlV
— James Poniewozik (@poniewozik) June 12, 2018
As the Associated Press pointed out, Kim is no stranger to propaganda: "Long an authoritarian state, North Korea has used propaganda films to shape public perception of its leaders, often portraying Kim and his family as gods. The current leader's father, Kim Jong Il, was a longtime movie buff who had thousands of titles in his film collection and once led North Korea's ministry of propaganda."