Parasite wins Best Picture in watershed moment for Hollywood

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Jay L. Clendenin/Los Angeles Times/TNS

The cast and crew of "Parasite," including Yang Jinmo, Han Jin Won, Kwak Sin Ae, Lee Ha Jun, Yang-kwon Moon, Song Kang Ho, Cho Yeo Jeong, Lee Sun Kyun and Bong Joon Ho arrive at the 92nd Academy Awards Feb. 9, at the Dolby Theatre at Hollywood & Highland Center in Hollywood.

If you’ve scrolled through Instagram, Twitter or virtually any social media platform this week, you’ve probably noticed that a film called “Parasite” won an Oscar for Best Picture. You probably have a few questions. First, who knew the Oscars just passed? I didn’t. More importantly, why is “Parasite” flooding headlines?

At the 92nd Academy Awards, “Parasite” became the first foreign language film to win Best Picture, the night’s top accolade, while also picking up awards for Best Director, Best Foreign Language Film and Best Original Screenplay. Considering the Oscars’ tumultuous past, the film is a much-needed breath of fresh air.

It is no secret that Hollywood has historically produced films made by white people for white people. Although the industry and awards season are slowly becoming more diverse, we shouldn’t be too quick to commend the Academy’s inclusion. Reflecting on female-directed films, specifically “Little Women” (Greta Gerwig) and “The Farewell” (Lulu Wang) not getting the recognition they deserve, it is clear that the Oscars still have work to do. 

However, “Parasite’s” success is a step in the right direction. South Korean director Bong Joon-ho’s masterpiece is a satirical thriller that interweaves commentary on social inequality, materialism and class aspirationalism. The film centers around the interaction between the penny-pinching Kim family and the ostentatious Park family. 

In addition to the film’s historical implications, it addresses South Korea having one of the largest wealth gaps in the developed world. Bong refers to the film as his “stairway movie,” exploring the upstairs life of the Parks who are shown routinely ascending the steps of their modern mansion and the downstairs life of the Kims who climb down stairs to their basement apartment. 

Bong, having worked as a tutor for an extremely wealthy family in Seoul in his 20s, drew inspiration from his experiences while tying in elements from the 1930’s case of the Papin sisters: French live-in maids who were convicted of brutally murdering their employers. 

While Bong’s dark and twisted tale is enough reason to drop your weekend plans and race to the theater, its awards season success has and will change Hollywood forever. Bong himself said it best during his Golden Globes acceptance speech in January. 

“Once you overcome the 1-inch-tall barrier of subtitles, you will be introduced to so many more amazing films,” Bong said through his translator. “Just being nominated along with fellow amazing international filmmakers was a huge honor. I think we use only one language: the cinema.”