From South Korea, 2020’s Oscar-Winning Best Film.
“Parasite,” an Oscar-winning film and a metaphor for our world
The Oscar-winning thriller directed by Bong Joon-Ho titled “Parasite” is a brutal satire about wealth disparity that depicts the lives of the Kim and Park family, two families on the opposite ends of the socioeconomic spectrum. The Kim family, unemployed, lives in the slums of South Korea, while the Park family lives in an architectural masterpiece in Seoul. But it accomplishes much more than introducing us to their contrasting lifestyles.
The image on the left is the home of the Kim family, while the one on the right is the home of the Park family. Image retrieved from Vogue.
Over the course of the film, the Kim family is able to mobilize themselves and seek employment from the Park family, giving the illusion of economic mobility-but the film is far more pessimistic. It’s talking about how economic immobility is the new normal, and not just in the cinematic universe in which the movie is set in, but in our world.
Economic mobility is the ability of an individual, family, or some other group to improve (or lower) their economic status. When this is not possible, economic immobility happens. It has a number of consequences, including creating tension for reinvesting a nation's sense of community. When members from different socioeconomic groups are unable to connect as peers and collaborators, connections become frail as there is less sense of shared connection when there are fewer common experiences. And without a national community, our joint efforts would be futile. Our collective identity and agency as a country begin to disintegrate without a collective identity. As the movie shows, there is one big factor to blame: corruption, whether it comes from big corporations or the government in itself.
I invite you to look at your own environment. Think about the person who made that shirt you got for really cheap at an online store, made by people who have not received a decent-if any-education at all. We benefit from their cheap skilled labor, right? But now I want you to think, what do they benefit from us? The movie certainly leaves us shocked with its dramatic ending, but we should be equally ready to criticize our own part in this global phenomenon.
Although this is a broad and global issue, the argument of immobility-not just economic-can be easily applied to any dynamic between us humans. Are we all just parasites leeching from others? And if so, what has made us this way? What can we do about it?
Official “Parasite” movie poster. Image retrieved from IMDb