Bong Joon-ho’s 'Parasite' and the parasitic nature of privilege

Parasite dramatises the daily indignities to which the poor are subjected

parasite A scene from 'Parasite'

Filmmaker Bong Joon-ho’s Parasite, that scripted Academy Award history to become the first non-English film ever to win the best picture award, explores the complex nuances of a matured capitalist system.

In a capitalist system, it often seems the state's most important role is to ensure there are laws in place to cater to the parasitic nature of the privileged—the wealthy. So, the working-class is often put in positions in which they must either break the law, circumvent the law or starve. It implies that "crime" in a capitalist system is a by-product of these oppressive laws itself.

A cleverly-crafted Parasite dramatises the daily indignities to which the poor are subjected. It takes us to the alleys of the underprivileged and shows what life is in a shithole of poverty. The opening scenes establish the fact that anybody, even the entire system, can piss on the poor (literally). And the system wants them to stay in that abyss forever. There is no protection for them. They have no access to formal education or jobs, and no access to Wi-Fi (an allegory of all technological advancements humankind is making).

The director contrasts their lives with those of the rich, whose money buys privileges and whose attitudes lead directly to oppression of the poor. Ironically, most often they are oblivious to the effects of their actions, just like how they are unaware of the privileges the enjoy. The film, for instance, depicts a sudden rain that floods the home of a poor family. The same rain is treated as a blessing by the rich—a crisp and clear observation about the cocoon of privilege.

A capitalist system depends heavily on the concept of private property. Parasite makes some very interesting observations about the concept of family and transfer of property. The concept of family, in its bourgeois form, is based primarily on the management and transfer of property. The system enables the wealthy and privileged to create a new generation of incompetent beings to lord over a new generation of marginalised people.

The film’s high point is the way it shows the idea of class conflict. Parasite depicts how the capitalist system efficiently keeps the working-class in constant fight with each other. That the working class is not actually trying to change the system, but to grab their share of bread crumbs, even at the cost of a fellow working class man.

The system ensures that there is inequality and poverty to ensure cheap labour available for the wealthy. The high point is the film’s climax that portrays what it means when a class conflict finally becomes a revolution—the under-privileged working-class man realising the comradeship he shares with another working-class man.