I was urging Swamp Rabbit to go see the Academy Award-winning Parasite, a dark satire that should appeal to Bernie Sanders fans everywhere. He rolled his eyes and asked what a foreign-language movie directed by a guy named Bong Joon-ho has to do with Bernie.
That’s easy, I told him. Parasite acknowledges class warfare, just like Bernie’s campaign speeches. It’s about South Korea but it’s about America too, except that no American studio boss would have the balls to greenlight a movie that directly connects our social ills to government policies that help the rich get richer while forcing most other people to tread water until they drown.
“That’s crazy talk,” Swamp Rabbit said. “I ain’t drowning. I got a part-time job and four hundred dollars in the bank in case of emergencies.”
But Parasite isn’t just about income inequality, I explained, ignoring his sarcasm. It shows how the poor become invisible, and what happens to people of all classes in a society that measures success by how much money you make and how many shiny toys you flaunt. Bong makes this point in the scene where the Kims (the poor family) con themselves into the good graces of the Parks (the rich family) and proceed to…
“Don’t tell me how the movie ends,” Swamp Rabbit said. “I might watch it if it comes on TV for free. As long as it ain’t too preachy.”
It’s a high-tech fairytale, grim but absurdly funny. The Parks are rich as if by magic and live in a house that seems as big as a sports arena. The Kims are trying to eke out a living by folding pizza boxes in their tiny basement apartment before they latch onto the Parks. “They’re rich but still nice,” Daddy Kim says as the Kims guzzle the Parks’ expensive booze. “They’re nice because they’re rich,” Mama Kim replies.
The movie starts with a lot of laughs but grows more complex and violent as the plot thickens. There are no monsters but none of the characters, rich or poor, are nice. The Kims are parasites but so are the Parks in their own oblivious way. The Kims do what they think they must to get by in a dog-eat-dog world, and they go crazy in the process.
“Maybe I’ll just wait till an American does a remake of this movie,” Swamp Rabbit said. “Then I won’t have to wear myself out reading all them subtitles.”
“That’s like waiting for Donald Trump to say something thoughtful,” I replied. “It won’t happen in this lifetime.”