Parasite's Social Commentary Is Brilliant But Its Portrayal Of Savvy Young People Is Even Better

It's no surprise that Parasite is arguably 2019's best film.


Parasite is a strange film, though that can be said about all of Bong Joon Ho’s filmography. Much like his previous works, Parasite doesn’t fit into any established genre. Instead, it blends a domestic thriller, socially conscious commentary, dark comedy, tense heist, and bloody horror into some odd mutant hybrid.

This isn’t a criticism in any way. In fact it’s the complete opposite as not only is Parasite arguably 2019’s greatest film, it is the latest example of how Bong Joon Ho is his own genre and he is able to convey so much with his unorthodox approach.

The film tells the story of a zero-income family – middle-aged parents Kim Ki-taek and Choong-sook, and their 20 something children Kim Ki-woo and Kim Ki-jung – who are so far below the poverty line that they need to scab Wi-fi from the cafe next door just to check their phone messages.

Things take a turn when Ki-woo’s college friend offers him a lucrative gig as a tutor for a rich high school student. As he takes up his new job at the mansion of the upper-class Park family – Mr Park, his wife Yeon-kyo, their teenage daughter Da-hye, and their hyper-energetic son Da-song – Ki-woo sees his employers as a way to elevate his family’s social standing (hence Parasite, geddit?).

Parasite offers up a biting critique on the broken social system but without sacrificing the sympathy of any of the characters, and Bong’s seemingly unusual creative choices remain utterly brilliant. Some peaceful scenes are shot like a thriller to impart a sense of dread while others are cleverly limited in its framing to really hammer home themes like hierarchy and class.

But perhaps the aspect that stood out most to me was how Bong characterised the younger main characters in Parasite as savvy, competent people rather than their parents.

At a time when younger voices are being stymied by older generations who stubbornly refuse to cede power or listen to legitimate concerns, it is refreshing to see the older characters in Parasite take on more reactive roles.

The plan to infiltrate the Park family is the brainchild of Ki-woo and Ki-jung, both of whom carefully figure out every step of the ruse. Their parents on the other hand are nothing more than pawns in the whole thing and willingly go along with the plan without any questions.

When Ki-woo’s plan goes sideways due to the interference of an unexpected third party, Ki-taek claims to have his own plan to fix everything only to later reveal his “plan” was to basically wing it. It’s almost like Bong is telling the older generation to make way for younger folk because they have the answers to the problems being faced today.

As great of a commentary Parasite offers on themes like class, greed, and twisted social hierarchies, it is the subtle exploration into young people and the amount of stuff they can accomplish if they be given the power to do so that really stands out.

Bong has no problem showing people the ugly sides of life in his work, all of which is tinged with drips of cynicism. But the emphasis on Parasite‘s younger characters seemingly tells us that while Bong views the present as being messed up right now, he has a surprising amount of hope that the next generation can fix it.

The Notebook's Noah Is A Manipulative Fuccboi And It's Time We Called Him Out

Just because he looks like Ryan Gosling doesn't mean he gets a pass.

Here’s a fact that’ll make you feel old: The Notebook was released in 2004 and that puts it worrying close to being able to legally drink.

For a decade and a half, the story of Noah and Allie’s relationship has caused many tears to be shed, unrealistic expectations of how romance should play out, and how Ryan Gosling’s portrayal of Noah set the bar when it comes to loving someone wholeheartedly.

But once you take off the rose-tinted glasses for a second and look at Noah with objective eyes, it’s quickly clear that he’s nothing but a manipulative fuccboi.

Creeper alert.

Let’s go back to when Noah first meets Allie at the county fair and asks her for a dance within 60 seconds of seeing her. Not only is that something incredibly weird to ask a complete stranger, he’s immediately giving off creeper vibes when he gets right up in Allie’s personal space, something that she mentions to her friend afterwards.

But things get cranked up to 11 when Noah then crashes Allie and her date’s Ferris wheel ride just to ask her out. When she repeatedly says no, he decides to hang off the Ferris wheel and basically implies that he’ll kill himself unless she goes out with him.

That’s not romantic, that’s just manipulative. Emotionally blackmailing a woman into a date is just twisted on so many levels, regardless of whether Noah looks like Ryan Gosling or how everyone laughs it all off as a joke afterwards.

In the real world, Allie would’ve needed some serious therapy for the emotional damage inflicted upon her by a stranger she just met. But since that wouldn’t make for a very romantic movie, Allie instead succumbs to Noah’s “charm” and the two have an unrealistically healthy relationship.

It’s perhaps for the best that The Notebook was released back in 2004 because if someone did what Noah did today, they would be locked up in a cell with the key thrown away instead of being put on a pedestal as a romantic heartthrob.

You should’ve stuck with Lon Hammond, Jr., Allie.

500 Days Of Summer Perfectly Showed The Problem With Nice Guys 10 Years Ago And We Still Haven't Learned A Thing

If anything it seems like men have regressed.

2009 was something of a banner year for cinema. We got an indulgent yet entertaining WWII flick from Quentin Tarantino and there was James Cameron’s awful blue people CGI-fest that remains the highest earning movie of all time (for now).

But the film that stood the test of time better than anything else that year is perhaps Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Zooey Deschanel’s subversive romcom, 500 Days of Summer.

That’s because the film perfectly showed the whole “nice guy” problem we see in the dating world and that depiction remains more relevant than ever today.

Here we have exhibit A: Textbook nice guy.

500 Days of Summer tells the story of Tom (Gordon-Levitt) and Summer’s (Deschanel) relationship from Tom’s perspective. What starts off as a pretty cute romcom soon unfolds itself as a critque on how guys get the wrong idea about relationships despite all the clear signs and how men can and need to be better.

Despite being told by Summer that she isn’t looking for a relationship, Tom still pursues her and gets obsessively attached to her. He projects all these fantasies onto her and basically thinks she’s the Manic Pixie Dream Girl who will give his life meaning. It’s pretty pathetic and at times creepy.

Once they break up, he sinks into a deep depression and the truly ugly parts begin to overflow. When he’s not being a sullen mess, he’s whinging about why Summer wouldn’t date him despite being such a “nice guy” and basically being all entitled about the whole thing.

Tom is basically the personification of the “nice guy” problem in a nutshell: He gets unhealthily attached to a woman he likes and then gets angry when she rejects him. The character certainly isn’t someone men should look up to in their pursuit of romance, something that Gordon-Levitt wholeheartedly agrees with.

If there’s anything to be learned from the film, it’s don’t be like Tom and fall in love with the idea of a person.

Focus on the stuff on the right hand side and ignore the left.

While Tom ultimately grows and learns from his “nice guy” phase with Autumn, the same can’t be said about real life. If anything, it seems like men have taken all the wrong lessons from 500 Days of Summer and regressed in the decade since the film’s release.

When women are feeling scared for their life while doing regular things like catching an Uber or walking home at night, we’re doing something incredibly wrong. Be better, men.

500 Days of Summer was and still is a perfect example of why the “nice guy” mentality is awful and the lessons taught by that film remain more relevant now than they were 10 years ago. Be the version of Tom who grows up in the end and not the version who obsessively pines over someone to the point where it goes all pear-shaped.

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