Rich People Love ‘Parasite’ But Refuse To Learn Anything From It
How do celebrities fall in love with a film about the problem with rich people?
Parasite is a film deserving of all the praise it’s received.
Yesterday, Bong Joon-Ho made history with Parasite becoming the first foreign-language film to win Best Picture at the Oscars. Beyond the Best Picture win, Bong Joon-Ho also won every other award he was nominated for including: Best Original Screenplay, Best International Feature Film and Best Director — and it’s no surprise to anyone who’s seen the masterpiece that is Parasite.
The Korean dark comedy-thriller follows the Kim family who manage to climb their way out of poverty by infiltrating the rich Park family. Once in the world of the wealthy, the Kim family do everything in their power to remain there — even if it means breaking the law.
The film, while funny at times, is a somber look into the stark difference of how the rich and poor live in Korea, and more widely, poverty dynamics around the world.
So it was surprising when some of Hollywood’s richest celebrities praised a film which paints the rich in such a bad light. The Park family throughout Parasite are seen as as clueless, selfish people with a lack of self-awareness and a very clear bias towards the poor — particularly in regards to their smell, a running theme throughout the film.
Despite Bong Joon-Ho claiming the film’s characters fall into the “grey zone” with Parasite having “no villains”, the Parks seem to naturally fall into that trope. Even with the Kim family’s deceit and violence, it’s still the Park family who are seen as the villains by the end of the film, with their treatment of the poor throughout somewhat justifying the murder of Mr Park. Yet, the super-rich like Elon Musk, Chrissy Teigen, Ryan Reynolds and even, Barack Obama, have publicly praised Parasite calling the movie their “favourite” of 2019.
yall make me SICK pic.twitter.com/3htvASs7iD
— the dialectic daughter (@priyavprabhakar) January 9, 2020
A Lack Of Self Awareness
While there’s no denying the movie is good, the rich fawning over a film that calls out their exact lifestyles and what they stand for raises some questions.
Mainly, how can a film focused on highlighting the issues with people with SO much money be well-liked by people with SO much money? Parasite leaves normal audiences hating the rich, as they should, but the rich have somehow left Parasite feeling unchanged about their position — which is everything wrong.
The unbelievably rich being unfazed by Bong Joon-Ho’s themes of class conflict, social inequality and wealth disparity is exactly what Parasite portrayed with the Park family. So, it feels strange for celebrities to see this exact thing on film and not making any parallels to their own lives.
This lack of self-awareness means the purpose of Bong Joon-Ho’s film fell flat to the very people he was trying to critique.
A perfect example of this is the way that Parasite explores the way natural disasters affect the poor and rich — something that can be likened to the California wildfires of the last few years.
In Parasite, the Kim family live in a semi-basement that ends up flooding when torrential rains hit their area. For the Kim’s these rains spell disaster and end up destroying the tiny amount of possessions they have. For the Park family, the flood-like waters are nothing but a small inconvenience to their camping plans and are seen as a positive as they clear the smog from the sky.
please use some of your money to buy a sense of self awareness
— Avery Edison (@aedison) January 5, 2020
During the 2018 California Wildfires, Kim Kardashian and Kanye West hired private firefighters to prevent their home from burning down while everything else around them crumbled. On Ellen, Kim defended the use of private services by claiming the firefighters saved her entire neighbourhood.
A seemingly giving act, Kim explained: “I had them make sure they controlled every house on the edge. So it wasn’t just my home that I said take care of. I said, ‘Take care of everything.’”
While Kim shared her firefighters to her equally rich community, the mere existence of private firefighters highlights the issues of being able to purchase things that should be equally accessible. Fire fighting services should not be something you have access to just because you’re rich. Fire fighting services should be equally accessible.
But when the Australian Bushfires started to rage, Kim’s sister, Kendall Jenner, simply tweeted out emojis in response to footage of red skies instead of donating much needed funds for similar fire fighting services.
This was made worse by Kendall, just a few month prior, uploading a photo of a Kylie Jenner’s private jet “picking” her up on her Instagram story. Totally oblivious of the direct correlation of continued private jet use and climate change causing these fires, Kendall lacked self-awareness because these issues will never affect her or her family.
If global warming did cause fires near their homes, they would simply just hire more private services to deal with them while the rest of the world, with less access to money, would simply burn — or wash away as the Kim family did in Parasite.
also you: pic.twitter.com/mNttPOHjai
— 𝘮𝘪𝘳𝘢𝘯𝘥𝘢 ❀ (@badinjapan) January 3, 2020
“Reduced To Decor”
Similarly, when Ryan Reynolds tweeted about loving Parasite, a confused internet goer responded with the fact that Ryan and Blake Lively got married on a plantation.
In 2012, the two tied the knot at Boone Hall Plantation in South Carolina, clear evidence that neither of them were conscious of the real world impacts of their decisions.
Plantations thrived on the slave labour of Africans who were imported to America in the 1700s. Therefore these properties understandably have a deep history for black Americans, something two white actors will never experience but still have the ability to understand.
By choosing to get married on such a traumatic site, Blake and Ryan essentially became complicit in what these plantations stood for. Likely a choice for aesthetic over meaning, the fact the pair could choose to ignore something so inexcusable is exactly how Bong Joon-Ho crafted the Kim family — not necessarily malicious, but unconcerned, oblivious and entirely wrapped up in their own world.
In Parasite, the Park’s use Native American culture frivolously throughout the film. Da-song’s obsession with “American Indians” is dotted throughout Parasite, from the native headdresses and teepees all the way to the bows and arrows. The appropriation of Native culture is even the entire theme for the climax of the film, Da-song’s birthday party.
Bong Joon-Ho explains that “to the son and the mother [Native American imagery] are just fancy decorations — very surface level decorations.” He continues: “They have no real understanding of the actual history and the complicated context that surrounds Native Americans. It’s just reduced to decor.”
And it’s this that’s exactly the problem with plantation weddings — people continue to use sites of trauma for the aesthetic, as a fancy decoration for their nuptials without an understanding of the history that surrounds such locations.
Ryan Reynolds applauding Parasite just highlights his total blindness to the messages of social inequality and class divide that the movie tried to convey.
You got married on a plantation https://t.co/7iPQoftPaN
— baudi moovan (@sebbyvelazquez) February 8, 2020
If the rich, who implored others to watch Parasite, truly understood what the movie was trying to say, then their praise would be justified. Parasite is not for the rich unless they have intention to change their ways.
But these celebrities celebrating the film fail to understand one giant, glaring point: they are the Park family — oblivious that they are the real world inspiration and too self-absorbed to realise.