Print this post Print this post

Why Mainstream Critics Love Parasite

1,204 words

Bong Joon-ho’s Parasite swept the Oscars ceremony this year, winning the awards for Best Picture (the first foreign-language film to earn the award), Best Director, Best Original Screenplay, and Best International Feature Film. It has been hailed as the best film of 2019 and currently enjoys a 99% approval rating on Rotten Tomatoes. Like the similarly over-hyped Knives Out, Parasite is a technically competent but underwhelming film whose vapid social commentary has secured its popularity with liberal critics.

Parasite follows the destitute, basement-dwelling Kim family — mother and father Chung-sook and Ki-taek, son Ki-woo, and daughter Ki-jung — as they gradually wheedle their way into the lavish home of the affluent yet gullible Park family. Their scheme is set in motion when the recommendation of a friend earns Ki-woo a job as the tutor of the Parks’ daughter. Ki-Jung then becomes the art teacher of the Parks’ son after posing as an American-educated art student specializing in art therapy. Still unsatisfied, the Kims devise a plot to get the Parks’ chauffeur and housekeeper fired so Ki-taek and Chung-sook can replace them.

You can buy Return of the Son of Trevor Lynch’s CENSORED Guide to the Movies here

When the Parks go on a camping trip, the Kims spend the weekend in the Park home. They get drunk and laugh at the Parks’ obliviousness. But things do not go according to plan, and the sudden arrival of the former housekeeper interrupts the Kims’ bacchanalian celebration. She is reluctantly admitted by Chung-sook, to whom she reveals the existence of a hidden bunker, where her aging husband has lived (unbeknownst to the Parks) for several years. As the Parks’ housekeeper, she fed and cared for him regularly. The other Kims, eavesdropping on the exchange, betray themselves by toppling down the stairs and calling each other terms of familial endearment.

The Kims receive news of the Parks’ impending arrival and hastily tie up the old housekeeper and her husband. The husband enacts his revenge the following day by unleashing violence upon the Kims during the Parks’ son’s birthday party. Blood is spilled on all sides.

The clueless Park family are hardly the villains in this tale, but Bong’s sympathies lie mainly with the Kims. The film lingers upon their squalid living conditions and hammers home the point that financial desperation, and not innate immorality, led them to commit their crimes. They are the innocent victims of an oppressive system.

At first glance, it seems odd that the establishment should salivate over a film that parodies the lifestyle of the upper class and critiques income inequality.

You can buy Son of Trevor Lynch’s White Nationalist Guide to the Movies here

But it makes sense. Parasite allows elites to congratulate themselves on being “woke” while simultaneously validating their superiority complex. Furthermore, the film ultimately reneges upon its radical pretensions. Finally, it is foreign, which has endeared it to liberal critics who pride themselves on being worldly and sophisticated.

Upper-class liberals are sympathetic to the poor insofar as they are helpless and do not threaten their cultural and political dominance. They want to be able to signal their support for the less fortunate while retaining their elite status. Parasite plays right into this. The Kims are indeed vulgar, petty, and unscrupulous, but this makes them more sympathetic, if anything. Liberals prefer to conceive of the poor as helpless children, and the Kims’ behavior befits children. And their behavior is supposed to be evidence of their helplessness and desperation, since it is attributed to their environment.

Parasite never really poses a genuine challenge to neoliberal capitalism. It never strays beyond merely sympathizing with the Kims’ adroit attempt to accommodate the system, itself an inherently moderate sentiment. Bong despairs over the inequality that plagues modern Korean society, but he fails to offer a potential solution. Hence Parasite’s popularity among the champagne socialist crowd.

Ki-taek articulates Bong’s amoral, nihilistic worldview toward the end of the film: “Whether you kill someone or betray your country, none of it fucking matters.”

Bong almost looks favorably on the parasitic relationship between the two families. To him, their interactions are mutually beneficial, even “beautiful”: “The word ‘parasite’ is a negative word that conveys contempt, but saying ‘coexistence’ gives rise to a beautiful, positive expression. I’ve created a peculiar setting in which the rich and poor, who normally don’t come in contact with each other, interact closely.”

You can buy Trevor Lynch’s White Nationalist Guide to the Movies here

This line of reasoning is apt to appeal to wealthy liberal viewers who employ Mexicans. The relationship between white Americans and Mexicans is mutually exploitative: White people depend on Mexicans and exploit their willingness to work for low pay, while Mexicans exploit our resources and trusting nature. But liberals would prefer to think of this relationship as an example of the beauty of diversity.

To Bong, the titular “parasite” is probably the housekeeper’s husband, who lives rent-free in the Parks’ home and survives thanks to his wife’s labor. He is the only character who exists outside the system, and it is his fault that the otherwise harmonious relationship between the Parks and the Kims disintegrates.

The bloody conflict that breaks out at the end has an air of arbitrariness to it. It is an accident, the result of the unwanted intrusion of the “parasite.” Organized forms of violence, by contrast, are absent from the film. This, too, is surely reassuring to upper-class liberal audiences.

It is interesting that the same critics who fawned over Parasite were wary of Joker and claimed that it would provoke violence. Both films explore the themes of inequality and class conflict, but no one expressed such concerns about Parasite.

You can buy Dark Right: Batman Viewed from the Right here

This is partly due to the disparity between their respective target audiences. Joker’s comic-book style is straightforward and down-to-earth, while Parasite boasts sleek, art-house production values and a veneer of sophistication. Joker unfolds from a lower-class perspective in a lower-class world, while Parasite depicts the poor in a patronizing, caricaturish manner and takes place mostly in the Parks’ stylish postmodern abode.

But this still doesn’t answer the question of why liberals, who ostensibly care about the downtrodden, were afraid that Joker would resonate with people in the first place and why they sounded the alarm about the film long before they had even had the chance to watch it. The obvious explanation is they care much more about issues pertaining to race and gender than class, and they saw the Joker simply as a white man. His station in life was irrelevant.

This goes a long way toward explaining why liberals have dubbed Parasite the best film of 2019 yet continue to be indifferent to the suffering of ordinary Americans — particularly working-class white men, who are more likely than any other demographic to die “deaths of despair.”

Parasite is a thoroughly banal and shallow film. Other films have tackled the themes of poverty and inequality with much more subtlety and humanity (my favorite being Vittorio De Sica’s Bicycle Thieves, a neorealist masterpiece). Parasite fails to inspire any emotion beyond mere pity, if that. The Best Picture award should have gone to Once Upon a Time in Hollywood.

 

This entry was posted in North American New Right and tagged , , , , , . Post a comment or leave a trackback: Trackback URL.

10 Comments

  1. Orcish
    Posted March 2, 2020 at 5:13 am | Permalink

    I thought Parasite had interesting points, but turned excessively dark in tone at some point. The film is pro Nork basically. I doubt the Hollywood elite or most film critics “got it.” The question of the film is who is the parasite. At first glance the kims. Or is it the couple hiding in the basement? The question is answered when Kim stabs the wealthy owner of the house. The capitalist is the real Parasite who created the evil system that caused everyones grief. Another clue is when the woman gives the Kim Jung un parody speech.

    I liked the theme of hypocrisy though. Each criticizes the other when they have the upper hand and yet behave precisely the same way when the tables are turned! And the wealthy couple Fire their driver for sexual mores, yet are revealed to engage in exactly the same activity.

    I also liked the cultural aspects of the movie. Korean society is depicted as extremely sewn up, with even lowly service positions requiring good college records and being very competitive. I wonder if it’s really like that. When I was in grad school I recall students from Seoul National were like ice. Just perfect scores on everything.

    • bobbybobbob
      Posted March 2, 2020 at 5:41 pm | Permalink

      Are you sure there was much to get? I mostly felt it was affectatiously “odd” and the dialog and characters were dumb and boring.

      “Arsenic and Old Lace” is a relevant comparison. Black comedy. Actually funny. Secrets in the basement. Getting at some social and class themes of the day in a thoughtful way.

  2. Orcish
    Posted March 2, 2020 at 5:33 am | Permalink

    Basically, interesting Asian films get accolades at times because America’s cultural elite view everything in terms of identity politics and thats seldom a factor in East Asian society, or if it is, it’ll be too esoteric to be noticed. I realized this when I was writing something about Kurosawa the other day. The fundamental root problems of American society—diversity and identity—are solved in oriental society. Any confrontation of the themes in these movies in Hollywood cinema would devolve into accusations of anti thisim and racism.

  3. Patrick Mahomes
    Posted March 2, 2020 at 8:14 am | Permalink

    Once Upon was hideously boring and way too long. Surprised to see anti-white hater Tarantino shilled for on this board of all places, but……

    • HamburgerToday
      Posted March 2, 2020 at 11:07 am | Permalink

      Whether Once Upon A Time …In Hollywood was ‘too long’ really depends upon whether you like the film. I did, so I didn’t find the length of the film to be a problem. Saying that a Hollywood filmmaker is ‘anti-White’ is mostly redundant. However, I don’t find Once Upon A Time …In Hollywood overtly anti-White. If anything, it’s pretty pro-White and masculine. I don’t know any other director who would have presented the whole Bruce Lee incident at all, let alone letting the White man win.

  4. Comtaose
    Posted March 2, 2020 at 3:49 pm | Permalink

    This South Korean movie, besides playing into liberal drivels and sanctimony, is allegedly a pirated, copycat product of an Indian film. A simple search by key words on Youtube reveals many videos making that claim. Besides, it has been heavily bashed by President Trump. These two facts speak volumes for me and are sufficient reasons for me to shun the movie.

  5. nineofclubs
    Posted March 2, 2020 at 6:43 pm | Permalink

    ..while Mexicans exploit our resources and trusting nature

    Not to mention the employment prospects of the white working class.

    .

  6. Nanara
    Posted March 2, 2020 at 7:42 pm | Permalink

    Robin Hanson had an interesting article about this:

    http://www.overcomingbias.com/2020/01/parasite-versus-joker.html

  7. Mark
    Posted March 4, 2020 at 3:17 pm | Permalink

    “Parasite never really poses a genuine challenge to neoliberal capitalism. It never strays beyond merely sympathizing with the Kims’ adroit attempt to accommodate the system, itself an inherently moderate sentiment. Bong despairs over the inequality that plagues modern Korean society, but he fails to offer a potential solution. Hence Parasite’s popularity among the champagne socialist crowd.”
    [Spoilers ahead]
    The argument above seems legitimate given the interesting fact that the “parasite” does not attempt to kill the owners (the Parks) or the true exploiters in terms of classical class dynamics but is interested only in the Kims who had harmed him and killed his wife. Hence, there is no manifestation of true class consciousness and class solidarity which are presupposed in any Marxist revolutionary change. The parasite seems devout towards the owner even if the latter would have kicked him out if not reported him to the police had he known about him. The parasite lacks a true understanding of the nature of his exploitation, who his real enemies are.

  8. Captain obvious
    Posted March 4, 2020 at 8:07 pm | Permalink

    Because it’s a good movie

Post a Comment

Your email is never published nor shared.
 
Comments are moderated. If you don't see your comment, please be patient. If approved, it will appear here soon. Do not post your comment a second time.
 
Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>

*
*

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

  • Our Titles

    White Identity Politics

    The World in Flames

    The White Nationalist Manifesto

    From Plato to Postmodernism

    The Gizmo

    Return of the Son of Trevor Lynch's CENSORED Guide to the Movies

    Toward a New Nationalism

    The Smut Book

    The Alternative Right

    My Nationalist Pony

    Dark Right: Batman Viewed From the Right

    The Philatelist

    Novel Folklore

    Confessions of an Anti-Feminist

    East and West

    Though We Be Dead, Yet Our Day Will Come

    White Like You

    The Homo and the Negro, Second Edition

    Numinous Machines

    Venus and Her Thugs

    Cynosura

    North American New Right, vol. 2

    You Asked For It

    More Artists of the Right

    Extremists: Studies in Metapolitics

    Rising

    The Importance of James Bond

    In Defense of Prejudice

    Confessions of a Reluctant Hater (2nd ed.)

    The Hypocrisies of Heaven

    Waking Up from the American Dream

    Green Nazis in Space!

    Truth, Justice, and a Nice White Country

    Heidegger in Chicago

    The End of an Era

    Sexual Utopia in Power

    What is a Rune? & Other Essays

    Son of Trevor Lynch's White Nationalist Guide to the Movies

    The Lightning & the Sun

    The Eldritch Evola

    Western Civilization Bites Back

    New Right vs. Old Right

    Lost Violent Souls

    Journey Late at Night: Poems and Translations

    The Non-Hindu Indians & Indian Unity

    Baader Meinhof ceramic pistol, Charles Kraaft 2013

    Jonathan Bowden as Dirty Harry

    The Lost Philosopher, Second Expanded Edition

    Trevor Lynch's A White Nationalist Guide to the Movies

    And Time Rolls On

    The Homo & the Negro

    Artists of the Right

    North American New Right, Vol. 1

    Some Thoughts on Hitler

    Tikkun Olam and Other Poems

    Under the Nihil

    Summoning the Gods

    Hold Back This Day

    The Columbine Pilgrim

    Confessions of a Reluctant Hater

    Taking Our Own Side

    Toward the White Republic

    Distributed Titles

    Reuben

    The Node

    The New Austerities

    Morning Crafts

    The Passing of a Profit & Other Forgotten Stories

    Gold in the Furnace

    Defiance