The Oscars Winner Parasite: About the “Parasites” in Society & the Solutions
Parasites don’t die — till the world stops spinning, they always thrive.
With the 92nd Academy Awards lowers its drapes, audiences around the world rekindle their craziness and enthusiasm about the films presented.
Parasite, the Korean film that takes home with 4 Oscars awards is definitely the biggest winner of the night. In addition to the amazing performance of the film and how Oscars finally entitles a foreign language movie as the “Best Picture”, the article would like to take you back to the core of the film — the existence of parasites.
Why “parasites” and not other creatures, for instance, cockroaches or ants?
After watching it, I figured that the image of parasite is extremely important: it has the spirit combining all the other intolerable creatures that people hate and further sucks up things which doesn’t belong to it; parasites are greedy, cunning, hard-to-catch, craving and always grasp a bit more.
…and the story was born.
“It was already in my brain.”
Director Bong Joon-Ho, in the interview held by IMDb, talked about how the story of Parasite was initiated.
He explaines that just like parasites, the story exists in his head for a long time and he never notices it. “I don’t know how it came to me, but the idea was already there around 2017.” Director Bong then begins to approach some actors he had worked with in the past, like Song Kang-Ho and Woo-sik Choi, especially for Song, they have long known each other and built trust for over 20 years.
“I think we all have a very sensitive antennae to class, in general.” Director Bong told GQ magazine about the story, “I wanted to sort of delve deeper into the reality that surrounds me, as if I’m looking at it through a microscope — something smaller but also deeper.”
For director Bong, Parasite is the story he witnesses everyday and a story resulted under capitalism. “These (class-conscious) films sort of exploded out in the past couple of years. It’s not as if we all gathered together for a big meeting on how we(the actors and directors) should talk about class, it just happened very naturally.”
Who creates the parasites?
Some say, “they just exist and they are disgusting,” however, figuring out where and why they exist are rather crucial questions.
Capitalism can be one answer.
Living in a world where capitalism dominates all the values, people celebrate freedom of trading, freedom of speech and the freedom of choice 24/7 whereas the polarization of people’s wealthiness and life quality goes extreme.
“[South] Korea has achieved a lot of development, and now it’s a fairly wealthy country, but the richer a country gets, the more relative this gap becomes,” Director Bong told the Atlantic magazine in an interview.
Because there is the very rich family, the poor ones becomes the parasites — this is the causal-chain that leads the storyline. The thing is, parasites themselves don’t realize their potential and identities as they turn into some bloodsucker sugarcoated by butterflies’ image.
In the beginning of Parasite, people can see how the family are four jobless adults wrapping hundreds of pizza boxes a day. When the pizza shop comes and tells them how terrible they are folding the boxes, the family gets mad but seeks for chances to a part-time job as well.
That’s the first glimpse of how they are as parasites — they tend to infiltrate others without being noticed.
Then the rich, handsome friend of Ki-woo occurs as the first comparison of class in the movie; he is also a nice guy, who gives the family a rock symbolizing fortune and offers Ki-woo the tutor job to the wealthy Park family. The privileged friend demonstrates the fusion and the polarization of a capitalism society — rich people can befriend the poor, but the gap between stays and widens by time.
Human nature can be another answer — it takes two to tango.
Like the smell that follows the family wherever they go and whatever they wear, the greedy and affiliated traits deeply root in their minds. The Kim family all seem like smart and nice-looking people on the outside, but they slip into the mansion like mist and maneuver the wealthy family easily like their puppies.
Some say, if they are so clever and eloquent, why don’t they find jobs but use tricks to become someone they aren’t? Well, as simple as the answer could be, family education, laziness, blindness and overestimation of selves all explain.
Not only the Kim family, but also the rich Park family make the penetration and tragedy possible. As the traditional saying goes — “it takes two to tango” — if Madam Park doesn’t trust Ki-woo in the first place, how will the rest of the story happen? Audiences may think of the Park family as innocent and pitiful for encountering this, but the indication of how the upper class people lack of life experiences and seldom face difficulties makes the deception more reasonable.
Parasites would not disappear, mutual understanding is the key.
Parasites might be the red signal of modern society, the sirens of capitalism, however, it is a phenomenon that could only be improved instead of fixed.
As mentioned previously, the value of capitalism, neoliberalism and post-modernism is all about freedom, especially the freedom of choice. Therefore, one decision leads to another, the chain almost equals the idea of “fatalism.”
We see both capitalism and communism lead to serious issues around the world: there are always the 1% of people holding more than 50% of the money, hence, no matter how the system works, the goal of “all men can live equally and wealthily” is hardly reachable.
However, it is important that people reach out to each other; it does not have to be money, “mutual understanding” could be more appropriate at the moment.
The Noodle Dish
If you remember the scene which the Park family return from the camping event and ask the housekeeper (aka. Mrs. Kim) to cook instant noodles for Da-song, that is the timing when Director Bong tries to reveal the strange gap as well as the overlapping of differences between the rich and the poor.
“Usually rich people eat expensive, organic food, so they wouldn’t eat something like this…The mom adds sirloin on top of this cheap, instant dish, just to leave the signature of being rich. No one really eats it that way, it was my creation,” said Director Bong in the GQ interview.
Furthermore, not only the mutual understanding is required, the miscommunication within the class should be improved. “And you could say Parasite is closer to Mother, where the weak and have nots are fighting one another. And that’s sad, but it’s also realistic. And from those moments, you get this element of sadness, but also the comedy, as well.” Director Bong pointed out that sometimes people of the same class fight against each other too, so the gulfs exist not only between people of different classes, but also alienate people of similar situations.
The Invisible Line
Division is commonplace in modern society, with the tremendous amount of information flows, people become distant and self-centered even more.
“Mr. Park says in the film, is they [draw] a line over their sophisticated world and they don’t let anyone cross it.They’re not interested in the outside world, the subway and people who might perhaps smell. They want to push everyone outside of that line and they want to remain safe behind it.” According to Director Bong, people pretend to be nice, like Mr. Park making small conversations with Mr. Kim in the car, but he does not want to make connection at bottom.
This is the point which I believe all human beings should work on — truly understand the need of one another instead of staying inside the comfort zones. For a lot of times people don’t feel like knowing more, but the pain is the path to healing and no matter how hard it is, be sincere but realistic is the key and the beacon.
Chaos, possibility an hopes.
“I think we all have a very sensitive antennae to class, in general.” — Director Bong
The movie is dark, complicated, sad, but also a black comedy. No matter you feel stuck after watching it or feel powerless for any moves, it is important that the thought — the world is unfair — lies in your head.
And because we feel it, the changes are possible.
While the world keeps spinning and operating, evils persist, so do hopes — by taking one step at a time: try to understand others, try to reach out a bit, try to be realistic, try to fight against the fake masks on manipulators’ faces — changes can happen, so don’t give up.
2020/02/12, Evelyn Yang