Snubbery is alive and well
The first thing that we should all know about Bong Joon-ho’s Parasite is that it was grossly under-served by both the Golden Globes and the Academy. I’ll say it: the fact that it was not nominated for any acting awards is pure garbage. You’re really going to tell me that Adam Driver in Marriage Story outperformed a single person in that cast? In the words of that one Irish mom from the famous Vine, “disgusting.” However, we know where that under-serving bias is coming from, I think it’s the same bias that didn’t nominate Us for a single Oscar, despite Lupita Nyong’o giving a showstopping performance in not one but two roles in the same film. I also have some choice words for everyone who passed over Midsommar and Hereditary – why exactly does the academy hate horror movies? – but that’s not the point.
The actors of Parasite were snubbed, but so was the film as a whole every time it was only acknowledged as an excellent “foreign film.” As Joon-ho himself said in his acceptance speech at the Globes, “if you overcome the 1-inch tall barrier of subtitles, you will be introduced to so many more amazing films.” We so often in do not take movies seriously when they don’t directly work from our cultural perspective, and until the Golden Globes proved how fantastic it was, Regina was not even playing Parasite in theatres besides at Studio 7 at the Rainbow Cinemas.
Despite being smothered under the weight of movies like Marriage Story and Bombshell that were…just okay, though, Parasite still managed to be one of the most beautifully written movies in my memory. It is a passionately delivered criticism of class war, and a message of validation to working-class people who, like in the film, literally keep the lights on for the rich who do not notice them and could care less if they lived or died. It sprinkles satire, humour and the excitement of a heist film on top of its deep and serious symbolism, which struck me with the kind of reaction that I had only gotten from horror films. Additionally, the point at which the movie goes from lighthearted to horrifying–and if you’ve seen it, you’ll know which I mean–was stark and visceral.
Parasite shows the brutality and tragedy of capitalism for what it is, and lights fires in the bellies of audiences who recognize the exploitation they see unfolding as it does in their own lives. If you haven’t seen it, see it, and then talk about it a lot. One thing I think should be discussed in particular is the use of appropriation of Indigenous peoples’ culture as a part of Parasite’s narrative, which Joon-ho said is meant to call attention to the colonial mindset of the rich. However, if the audience is not aware of history behind this appropriation, it is possible for such a decision can do more harm than good. Shea Vassar, a writer for the publication Zora on Medium, wrote a piece called “How The Movie ‘Parasite’ Confronts Native Stereotypes” that picks this apart very well. I recommend it.
In summary, Parasite slaps and the Academy has bad taste. Also, Rainbow Cinemas has really good peach juice.