“Parasite” Makes Oscar History

Robbie Timmler

“Parasite,” made Oscar history by being the first South Korean film and the first foreign language film to win best picture. “Parasite” beat out certain Oscar winners like “Joker”, “Once Upon a time in Hollywood”, “1917” or “Ford v. Ferrari”. So, what is “Parasite,” what qualities of “Parasite” made it the 2020 Best Picture winner, and how will “Parasite” Best Picture win impact the film industry and society moving forward?

To begin, “Parasite” is about a poor family, the Kims, who con their way into becoming the servants of a rich family, the Parks, which causes the Kims easy life to get complicated when their lie is at risk of being exposed. 

A main theme of “Parasite” is class warfare with a poor family lying and cheating their way into a luscious lifestyle through servitude of a rich family. The film’s intensity comes from how far the Kims will go to keep their con a secret and how it takes a toll on them mentally and physically. With this in mind, CNN writer Sandra Gonzalez determined in her article, “’Parasite’ dominated the Oscar on a historic night.” “The question on the minds of many in Hollywood had been whether the Academy would put its votes toward those films (“1917” and “Once Upon a time in Hollywood) – the likes of which have been recognized in the past… or honor a filmmaker and cast less familiar to the mainstream…. The Academy made a choice to honor a film unlike any of those honored in the past 91 ceremonies.” 

CNN writer Eung Hong stated in her article “’Parasite’s’ win is an awesome test of the one-inch barrier”, “The “Parasite” sweep has two possible implications. Either: 1. It will boast only Korean cinema as a specific genre …. 2. All quality foreign films with the one-inch barrier of subtitles will be given a chance.” “Parasite” winning Best Picture has now opened up the door for potential foreign films to be nominated for Best Picture, but whether or not they win is still to be determined. Gonzalez commented, “Nancy Wang Yuen, a sociologist and author of “Reel Inequality: Hollywood Actors and Racism,” previously told CNN that “Parasite” earning best picture could open up opportunities for Asian-American actors, who have a difficult time getting their work recognized on the awards circuit.” 

In addition, “Parasite” has potentially opened the door for more Asian American lead films, but there’s a chance it will fade away and the film industry will stay the same until a new trend comes around. Hong commented, “Hollywood has always been the most supply-driven of all the arts: They make the movies, no one else can afford to do, so they also create the tastes.” Hollywood is a business like any other that will follow trends and try to make sure that their product will make money. The meaning of this statement is that Hollywood will always stick to what they know works and will attract an audience large enough to make back their money. 

“Parasite” has opened the door for potentially new styles of films and even more foreign films to be Best Picture nominees. Another addition could be the clamoring for more Asian American lead films and a larger push to promote the Asian culture in American cinema. “Parasite” has started the ball rolling for Hollywood to take advantage of, but it’s still too early to determine whether or not foreign films will go beyond Best International Feature Film at the Oscars or will it just be a pasting trend.