— Parasite (@ParasiteMovie) February 12, 2020
Last week, the South Korean film “Parasite” became the first non-English language film to win a Best Picture Oscar, among three other wins. While the film deserved this on its own merits, the significance goes way beyond this first.
Bong Joon-ho’s film is a truly masterful meditation on the gap between the rich and poor in capitalist nations. Both satirical and horrifying, the film is undoubtedly a masterpiece. In fact, it is so brilliant, I may have to edit my past statements about “The Irishman” being the best film of 2019. Aside from the truly expert acting and filmmaking, the film is daring in its rightful critique of capitalism, something that is not frequent in America. Yet this is not new for Bong. Check out “Snowpiercer” on Netflix for another example of his capitalist critique.
The film’s wins are not just important for the film’s content; they are important for another major reason. The film’s win is not just important for Koreans or Asians, but for all of us. For too long the Oscars have been a way for Hollywood to stroke its own ego and promote its own greatness. The Best Foreign Film category has basically been used as a place to put films from other countries so they would not be in contention with films more Americans know. This has meant that the vast majority of films released have not been considered for the mortal sin that Americans will have to read subtitles during the movie. This has meant some of the greatest films and filmmakers never received the recognition they deserved. Filmmakers like Akira Kurosawa, Ingmar Bergman, Federico Fellini, Yasujiro Ozu, Kenji Mizoguchi, Andrei Tarkovsky, and many others were never honored by the Academy alongside American films. These artists shaped the medium whether Americans know it or not. It would be like ignoring the great paintings, sculptures and music of the Renaissance because these works were not produced by and for Americans. Even though too many masterpieces and expert directors, actors and cinematographers have gone unrecognized, they were all on that stage in spirit.
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Thumbnail photo courtesy of @neonrated on Twitter.
Ben Sagal-Morris is a campus correspondent for The Daily Campus and can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.