By now, everyone has heard about Parasite, the South Korean subtitled dark satire that swept across the Academy Awards board this year. It not only won ‘Best Picture’, but also picked up multiple other accolades including ‘Best Director,’ ‘Best Original Screenplay,’ and ‘Best International Feature Film’. Even the President of the United States got in on the Parasite action although in Trump xenophobic fashion criticized a movie that he, in fact, didn’t even watch.
Well, I actually did watch Parasite. I was hardly going to pass up a South Korean directed and produced movie given my obsession with K-dramas and everything Korean, but let me tell you, Parasite is NOT a K-drama. I repeat . . . SO NOT.
Not that I didn’t know that going in. I did. I love quirky and dark. I thought I was prepared.
I WAS SO NOT.
A quick overview for those who haven’t seen it – Parasite is a movie about a Korean family barely existing in the slums of Seoul who scam a rich family by taking up servant roles in their household. It’s got hints of The Riches at this point, but from there on out, it goes weird then twisted and then, well, disturbed.
I was disturbed. I walked out of the movie with the husbot who immediately asked me what I thought and my hollow answer was, “I don’t know.” I was confounded, uncomfortable, disconcerted, all of that plus physically itchy. Then it was my husband’s turn to be bewildered as we sat over an Indian meal after the movie (the second time we’d eaten out that day in fact) and I looked up at him in tears.
“What’s wrong?” he asked.
“I’m a horrible person,” I replied.
“Awww, J*&y, you’re not. Why would you say that?”
“Because we’re those people.” I let out an uncomfortable laugh. “We live in our bubble and I created that bubble. We are two white privileged people and there are people out there suffering. We’re not doing enough. We just . . . aren’t.”
I was sensitive and raw and about 30 seconds away from insisting we sell our house and live more simply because it was disgusting to have so much when so many have so little.
A movie did that. A movie made me feel unworthy yet privileged at the same time.
Because the fact is a lot of us don’t see our privilege. We take lots of things for granted: clean water, sanitation, food, our roof over our heads, a job, a spouse, our children, our friends . . . our lives here in the U.S. are filled with privilege, but we don’t want to pay additional taxes to ensure universal healthcare or to ensure that children get a hot meal every day. Because we Americans think that everyone should pay their own way and if they don’t then that’s their problem, not our problem.
And that’s the most disturbing part of this whole thing.
I could be more clever and talk about all the double entendres, the metaphors, and the nuances of what is a brilliant film, talk about what it means to be a parasite and who the actual parasite is, but there will be plenty of blog posts out there already doing that. That’s not what this is.
This is a call for everyone to go watch Parasite and grasp what out Western privilege has cost us . . . our humanity.
Yet, I have to believe we can change. I have to believe that there is still hope for us yet, that we can do more . . . we can act more. We can search out the desolate and befriend them, we can work to alleviate those suffering among us, we can dig deep into our own communities and make a difference . . . hell, we can even put a compassionate humanitarian in the Oval office if we want it bad enough.
We don’t have to live in a movie like Parasite. We can be so much more.
Go see the movie and judge for yourself. You’ve been warned.