“Parasite” Transcends Cultural Film Barriers

It’s hard to believe we’re already nearing a month since this year’s historic Academy Awards. I remember the anticipation and adrenaline of watching it all go down like it only happened last night. If you’re not a film person and don’t really keep up with it all, you may be wondering, “What was so special about this one?” Well let me give you a run down from the perspective of a bunch of film nerds huddled around a TV in Cascade Hall.

You know when you’re watching the Super Bowl and your team is about to make a game winning touchdown? That was how it felt, and we were all rooting for Team Parasite, the genre-bending masterpiece from South Korea directed by the inimitable Bong Joon-Ho. 

As Jane Fonda stepped up to the mic and opened the envelope with the Best Picture winner inside, we all leaned into the TV in a moment of quiet calm before the storm. If you were in Cascade at this time, you may have heard a ruptuous cheer explode from the fourth floor. That would have been us. Parasite won Best Picture.

So why is this important? Well, the film is amazing, for one. But more importantly, in that moment, it became the first ever foreign film to win Best Picture in the 92 year history of the Academy Awards. This is an historic achievement. For us, it sparked a hope that we were moving in a more inclusive direction, transcending cultural boundaries and leading the way for more international features to shine in Hollywood.

Unfortunately, not everyone saw it that way.

A couple weeks following Parasite’s historic win, President Donald Trump took to the mic at a rally to offer his two cents.

“How bad were the Academy Awards this year? Did you see it?” he asked the crowd. “The winner is… a movie from South Korea! What the hell was that all about?”

Nobody watching this reaction online was surprised. It’s obvious President Trump would hate Parasite. After all, its main message criticizes class and wealth inequality. Plus… it’s not American.

But the Academy Awards have never been solely American, nor should they be. Film transcends culture and country, and the messages that Bong Joon-Ho delivered in his film ring especially true in the United States. 

Parasite won, I like to believe, for this reason. Bong Joon-Ho delivered a powerful message that transcended cultural barriers, and no matter the origin of the story—no matter what our President maye feel—people who saw this movie saw something important in it, something that needed to be addressed. Perhaps they even felt seen by it.

I hope that Parasite’s underdog win encourages many more filmmakers to create art that speaks to the masses, and encourages the masses to listen.

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