If you’re still wondering what all the hype around the Oscar-winning Korean film Parasite (기생충) is all about, the only way to find out is to actually watch it.
But to summarize the appeal, Parasite is a fun, exciting, thought-provoking roller coaster of an emotional ride through South Korea’s class divide.
With a few legitimately shocking twists and turns, an absolutely stellar cast and pitch perfect writing and directing, it’s really not hard to see how it scored the well-deserved Academy Award upset.
It’s hard not to understate the significance of the film gaining so much attention, even before the Oscar wins. A South Korean film getting all the buzz and taking home the win is a huge milestone of a moment. Not just for Koreans or Korean-Americans, but Asian Americans and people of Asian descent all over the world.
In a time when Asian representation in the media is usually relegated to tired stereotypes and tropes, having a film like Parasite breaking through barriers that seem to be set by Hollywood itself is profound.
Parasite‘s basic plot is universal and relatable. But its distinctly Korean voice and touches elevate the film above the typical Hollywood fare that increasingly looks like they’ve been churned out of a factory or even dusted off from the recycle bin.
Parasite delivered a refreshing and different point of view, one rarely seen or even attempted in western media. And even more astounding, the film doesn’t need gratutious sex and nudity (a seeming norm in buzzy Hollywood films these days) to appeal to audiences.
President Trump wasn’t the only person baffled by Parasite‘s Oscar win. Many in Hollywood and in the press, though expressing their appreciation for the film, were (for lack of better a word) uncomfortable with a Parasite Best Picture win. And for many different reasons. Some went as far as saying the film shouldn’t even be eligible for the Best Picture award.
Parasite was in a unique position. The Oscars are a popularity contest, no question. And it had a very talented and skilled team that got it the attention it deserved. Something many other international films (and even worthy local American films) don’t have the luxury of enjoying.
Of course, it helps that Bong Joon-ho and Co. delivered a film worth promoting in a big way to begin with.
But the hype surrounding Parasite and its Oscar win opens the door to future films that may not just get relegated to the shadows anymore. Many a film made outside of the United States and without English dialogue are just as worthy (of audiences and acclaim), if not more so, than the typical film churned out by Hollywood conglomerates. And hopefully, more films from Asian creatives will garner attention so much that such a film winning and making waves won’t be such an anomaly.
On its own, Parasite is a rare theatrical experience that makes you feel like you’re watching something new and different. Even when some parts are familiar, it is packaged in a refreshing and new way that is a welcome sight in today’s mainstream entertainment landscape. This more than 2-hour emotional roller coaster is one worth hitching a ride on.